Foreign Office warns of possible 'anti-British sentiment' in Russia ahead of World Cup

Tuesday, 12th June 2018, 08:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th June 2018, 09:26 am

On Thursday the Fifa World Cup gets underway in Russia as the month-long festival of football begins, however English fans are being warned about possible "anti-British sentiment".

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel warning for parts of the country, including no-go areas.

Thousands of football fans are set to descend on Russia and its 11 hosts cities. but the FCO has warned that "terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Russia".

Areas to avoid

The areas of Russia which the FCO is most concerned about are in the south.

It warns against all travel to within 10km of the border with the Ukrainian Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts, plus Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan and the districts of Budyonnovsky, Levokumsky, Neftekumsky, Stepnovsky and Kursky in Stavropol Krai.

Travel within a 10km of the border with the Ukrainian Kharkiv Oblast and to North Ossetia, Karachai-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, including the Elbrus area, should only be undertaken if essential.

How does it affect the World Cup

None of the 12 stadiums are in the parts of the country which the FCO has pinpointed.

The two nearest cities to the no-go areas are Sochi, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, and Volgograd.

England play Tunisia in the latter city in their World Cup opener on Monday with fans being advised to look at the FCO's travel advice before travelling.

The World Cup starts on Thursday as the hosts play Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Anti-English sentiment

England fans are urged to stay vigilant in their travels around the country "due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia" and told to avoid protests and demonstrations.

The FCO said: "You should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time. If you’re currently in Russia or due to travel in the coming weeks, you’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.

"While the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice."

Terrorism

Terror attacks in Russia have largely been by Islamist and rebel groups in the North Caucasus, although the FCO can't rule out such incidents in other cities or regions.

It said: "Since December 2017, Russian security forces have disrupted several plots in major Russian cities, including Moscow, St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Stavropol. These plots are reported to have targeted public transport and crowded places.

"Although there’s no indication that British nationals or interests have been specific targets, attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

"You should be vigilant in all public places, including major transport hubs, tourist sites and crowded areas; and particularly where access isn’t controlled, for example at open-air events and markets. Previous attacks have targeted transport infrastructure."

Brits travelling to Russia

In 2016 around 177,000 visits to the country were made by British nationals according to the Federal Agency for Tourism.

The FCO said: "Most visits are trouble-free."

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London on 020 7008 1500 (24 hours).