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Russia takes passports from senior officials so they do not flee the country – FT

Monday, 3 April 2023, 18:16
Russia takes passports from senior officials so they do not flee the country – FT

Russia’s security services are confiscating the passports of senior officials and state company executives to prevent overseas travel.

Source: The Financial Times with reference to its sources in Russia

Details: As the FT said, since Soviet times, Russian officials with access to mid-level state secrets have been required to leave their passports in safes of "special departments" of their ministries and companies. But Russia’s security services rarely enforced the rules, according to former officials and executives.


This changed after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014, when security services began warning against travel to countries such as the US or the UK. After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, restrictions were applied much more broadly.

For example, executives at one major state industrial company are banned from travelling further than two hours’ drive from Moscow without official permission.

In other cases, officers from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) have asked former officials who previously had access to state secrets to surrender their passports, and even some officials who never had such access.

Alexandra Prokopenko, a former Russian central bank official, said passport restrictions had now expanded beyond individuals with security clearance.

Quote: "Now they are coming to certain people and saying, ‘please hand in your red civilian passports, because you have access to sensitive information for the motherland, so we want to control your movements…

Basically any information can be deemed secret, so the embedded FSB officers start telling you that you have sensitive information. What is it? Why is it secret and who decides that? Nobody knows."

More details: As the FT noted, these steps have come at the same time as discontent with the sputtering war effort and its impact on their lifestyles grows among the elite. Once able to spend their riches on mansions, yachts and Western boarding schools for their children, Russian officials and oligarchs are now chafing at being confined to countries not deemed "unfriendly". Several members of the elite spoke to the FT about that.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesperson, confirmed Russia had tightened the restrictions on foreign travel for some who work in "sensitive" areas. He said this in an interview with the Financial Times.

Quote: "There are stricter rules for this. In some places they are formalised and in some places they depend on a specific decision . . . about specific employees.

Since the start of the special military operation, more attention has been paid to this issue."

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