Public anxiety has mounted in Russia following reports that the authorities in Moscow have ordered officials to bring relatives living and studying abroad back home. Concerns were further heightened following fresh claims that the Kremlin was considering plans to “impose serious limitations” on Russians traveling out of the country.
Many Russians have since taken to social media to express fears about the latest developments.
Although some news sources expressed doubts about the veracity of reports, which first appeared on Russian news site Znak.com, that the Kremlin had issued a directive to state officials and employees to bring their loved ones living abroad back home, Putin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov and several top Russian officials stopped short of denying the reports following inquiries by the media.
Officials responded diplomatically to media inquiries, saying they were not aware of the order but took care not to deny it categorically, according to the Daily Mail.
Although some sources claimed that the directive was not an order but only an advisory to high-ranking state officials, analysts pointed out that the threat by the Russian authorities that any official or state employee who failed to heed the directive will be overlooked for promotion suggested otherwise.
However, a Russian political analyst, Stanislav Belkovsky, confirmed that he was aware of the order and described it as “part of the package of measures to prepare the elites to ‘some big war.'”
Russian political analyst Valery Solovei also said that the Kremlin was considering plans to impose “serious limitations” on Russians traveling out of the country. According to Solovei, the government was planning to issue a directive or recommendation that “officials of all levels and their relatives [should not] to leave the country.”
Solovei went on to warn that once the limitations were imposed on officials, it would be extended to citizens.
“As soon as officials are limited in their freedom of travel, they will make sure the rest of society gets the same treatment,” he said. “As far as I know a tourist tax will be introduced for people wishing to go abroad.”
But Solovei expressed doubts about fears that the country could return to the old Soviet system of “exit visas” for citizens.
“First siloviki (security personnel) were prohibited from going abroad, then high-ranking officials were asked to sell foreign houses, close their companies and shut (overseas) bank accounts,” journalist Ostap Karmodi commented, according to the Daily Mail. “Now they are ordered to bring children back. The only strange thing is that it didn’t happen earlier. This is, of course, a preparation to war.”
“Not in a sense that Putin is getting ready to a nuclear strike at America and Europe. They believe that the war against Russia started a long time ago,” he continued. “By moving everything they can back into Russia they try to minimise their vulnerability and clean up their own ranks to get rid of unstable elements. Children are the most vulnerable. They mustn’t let the West to take hostages.”
“This is not yet an order to ‘bring everyone back within 24 hours to Russia’ but a firm request from the presidential administration which would be so hard to refuse,” blogger Ilya Viceman wrote. “This is not war, of course, but another small step towards it.”
The comments offered by various analysts elicited anxious speculation on Russian social media, with many expressing deep concern that it signals a preparation for war. But some Russian social media users attempted to ease growing fears by making light of the developments.
“I’d love to watch Peskov’s daughter — who doesn’t speak Russian and grew up in the States — being brought back to Russia. Guess they’d need to handcuff her first,” a Russian joked on social media
The directive from the Kremlin comes amid worsening relations between Russia, the U.S., and its key western allies, including France, over the crisis in Syria, the Inquisitr reported.
An indication of the growing tensions between the West and the Russia was the recent decision by the Russian authorities to move nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast on the Baltic Sea, close to the borders with Poland and Lithuania, the Inquisitr also reported.
Polish officials expressed concerns about the move.
More recently on Wednesday, Russia’s armed forces conducted a series of ICBM tests to signal readiness for a confrontation with the West. The Russians fired nuclear-capable missiles from vessels in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Barents Sea, according to RIA Novosti.
Tensions escalated further a few days after the Russians moved nuclear-capable missiles nearer to Lithuania and Poland when Putin canceled a planned visit to France scheduled for October 19. The sudden cancellation of Putin’s planned visit to Paris followed a diplomatic row that flared between the countries after President Francois Hollande of France criticized Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict.
The French government reportedly said it would request an investigation by prosecutors with the International Criminal Court into alleged war crimes by Russia and the Syrian government in rebel-held parts of Aleppo that have been subjected to intense bombardment as part of efforts to dislodge rebels.
A Russian analyst, Fyodor Lukyanov, described Putin’s sudden cancellation of his visit to Paris as “serious” and “reminiscent of the Cold War.”
“This is part of the broader escalation in the tensions between Russia and the West, and Russia and NATO,” he said.
Several political figures and analysts have also raised alarm about the growing tensions between Moscow and Washington. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world was at a “dangerous point” due to the rising tensions between Russia and the U.S.
[Featured Image by RussianLook/AP Images]