by BERNAMA / pic by BLOOMBERG
All the 124 Malaysians from various categories who were identified to be stranded in Russia following the travel restrictions imposed to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic have expressed urgent desire to return home, said the Malaysian Embassy in Russia.
Deputy Chief of Mission of the Malaysian Embassy to the Russian Federation, Johan Ariff Abdul Razak said despite this, all of them are unable to leave the country due to the suspension of commercial flights into and out of Russia from March 28 to May 1.
“All 124 people, majority of whom are in Moscow, are in good health and spirits. They have reported as being able to sustain their continued stay in Russia, at least until early May when commercial flights are expected to resume,” he said in a reply statement to Bernama.
The 124 stranded Malaysians comprise three individuals who are from business background, three tourists, oil and gas professionals (10 people) and students (108).
Johan Ariff said one business individual had the opportunity to leave Russia before March 28 but decided to stay on for private and business considerations, whereas the 10 Oil and Gas professionals who were supposed to go on shore leave during March-end and early April couldn’t exit the country.
“The ‘tourists’ are, in fact, students who entered Russia on tourist visas before the lockdown to sort out some issues with their respective universities.
“As for the students, they only expressed the desire to return home after the decision by Russian authorities to ground flights.
“Their concern about remaining in Russia is mainly due to the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases recorded in Moscow over the past week or so,” he said.
There are currently 893 Malaysian students – scattered across Russia – registered with the embassy.
Commenting further, Johan Ariff appealed for Malaysians in Russia who have yet to register themselves with the embassy to do so at the earliest opportunity to enable the relaying of advice and assistance.
“(The) Russian authorities have indicated their openness to positively consider requests for special repatriation or chartered flights for the purpose of evacuating Malaysians,” he said.