Expats in Russia warned of anti British sentiment after nerve gas attack

Published:  16 Mar at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, England
The British expat community in Russia is fearing reprisals following increasing tensions between the two countries.

The viral news of the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning of a Russian defector and his daughter caused alarm amongst British expatriates in Moscow, but Theresa May’s reaction to the tragedy has turned alarm to fear. A terse statement from the Foreign Office didn’t exactly help as it referred to ‘heightened tensions’ between the UK and Russia and warned of harassment and anti-British sentiment.

One British boss of a recruitment company in Moscow is getting regular concerned calls from his family in London for the first time in six years. He’s happy living in the Russian capital with his wife and, like most British business people, stays well away from politics. Although the deterioration of relations between the UK and Russia hasn’t hit on his business as yet, he’s concerned over the possibility of both governments punishing expatriates in tit-for-tat reprisals. This, he says, will bring the diplomatic row to expats’ doorsteps.

Tensions between the two nations had been escalating ever since Russia’s 2014 invasion of the Crimea resulted in sanctions and a collapse in oil revenues. Around 150,000 Brits left Russia during the economic downturn, with only 30,000 remaining, and the latest debacle looks set to shrink the numbers still further. Russian MPs are appearing on TV and telling the situation as they see it, and caricatures of Theresa May are appearing in the Russian media. One long-term British expat working in public relations believes the timing’s been appalling as it’s now the run-up to June’s football World Cup event. Tourists and fans, she says, may well not arrive. Even so, she still thinks those who do arrive will be made welcome.
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