Russians Form Long Queues at Turkish Airlines’ Moscow Office as Flight Restrictions Begin

Long lines of would-be tourists have formed outside Turkish Airlines’ Moscow office on Thursday as people seek refunds for canceled bookings, local media reported.

Russia suspended most flights with Turkey from April 15-June 1 earlier this week, shutting over 500,000 Russian tourists out of the popular holiday destination.

Videos posted to social media showed dozens of people standing in line to return or exchange their tickets on the day the restrictions came into force.

During the restriction period, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines will only operate two flights between Moscow and Istanbul per week.

Turkish Airlines on Thursday advised those wishing to exchange tickets to contact the airline’s call centers, sales offices or the travel agencies where they were purchased.

The Russian Association of Tour Operators (ATOR) said Tuesday that the tourism sector will lose more than $422,000 from 533,200 canceled flight bookings alone due to the Turkish flight restrictions.

Russia has also suspended flights to Tanzania over cases of Covid-19 and malaria in the African country, affecting slightly under 10,000 Russian tourists.

Resorts in southern Russia and annexed Crimea have seen a surge in demand since the restrictions were announced, causing industry officials to warn that an influx of tourists could severely deteriorate service quality.

While Russian health officials attributed the restrictions with Turkey to a surge in coronavirus cases in Turkey, some lawmakers linked the move to the Turkish president’s recent support for Ukraine.

Russians Increasingly Get Their News from Social Media, Internet – Poll

A growing number of Russians get their news from social media and the internet, according to a survey published by the independent Levada Center pollster on Tuesday.

Forty-two percent of Levada’s Russian respondents use social media to get their daily news, while 39% get it from the internet. While television remains the primary news source for Russians with 64% saying they watch television for news the figure represents a 21% drop from 2018. Previous Levada surveys have shown that Russians’ trust in television as a news source has fallen by 25% in the past decade.

Among all respondents, 57% said they use social media on a daily basis, a 20% increase compared to a similar 2017 survey. Russian VKontakte remains the most popular social network, followed by YouTube and Instagram, which were accessed by 35% and 31% of respondents respectively.

The study notes that the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok saw a surge in popularity, with 14% of Russian respondents saying they frequently use the platform.

Foreign-owned social media companies have come under increased pressure from the Kremlin in recent months as Russia’s opposition has been eager to use the increasingly popular platforms to call for anti-government demonstrations.

In January and February, several social media platforms took down Russians’ calls to protest in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny over the authorities’ claims that the posts illegally incited minors to attend unauthorized rallies. Soon after, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of state-funded news outlet RT, called on the Russian government to ban foreign social media platforms from operating in the country altogether.

Levada conducted the survey among 1,616 respondents from 50 regions between Jan. 29-Feb. 2.

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