Greek students in Russia are experiencing the brutality of the rupture in the Kremlin's relations with Europe, reporting that they are victims of abusive behaviour in Russia and are trying in every way to return to their homeland.
After the dramatic speech of Russian President Vladimir Putin, with which he declared a state of partial conscription, the disruption in Russia, which has blocked air travel, is evident. Amidst the wave of young Russians fleeing the war, the ticket to get out of Russia has risen to a desperate level.
As a result of this, students from Greece are trapped in Russia.
According to Proto Thema, the students sent a letter to the Ministry of Education in order to be able to continue their studies in Greek universities and so that the efforts of so many years are not lost. The problems of leaving Russia due to the sudden jump in prices is also described by the student Myrto Telopoulou.
"After the latest measures taken by Europe against Russia's hostile moves, there are no longer any direct flights, with the passage through Istanbul ‘easier’ due to more frequent flights, which is doubtful in the near future, as Greece's relations with Turkey are more tense than ever and the bad outcome of things is a realistic and possible scenario. Not to mention the ticket prices (via Turkey for a one-way trip is around €1,000, and via Cairo and Serbia are from €1,000 and above) that isolate and prohibit the Greek and European student from returning to their homeland during holidays and vacations," said the dentistry student.
"The reason I am sending you this letter is the inability to continue my studies in Russia, due to the war between Ukraine and Russia and my request to transfer to a Greek equivalent university," she wrote, among other things, in her letter to the Ministry of Education.
Another case of a Greek student who tried by all means to return to his homeland in order to enter a zone of normality is that of Vladimiros Katsikidis, which is truly shocking. He fears that the Russian border will be closed in the near future.
The anxiety of the third-year student of general medicine at the Krasnodar State Medical University is expressed in the following words: "All airports in southwestern Russia are closed, including the one in Krasnodar. This combined with the elimination of direct flights from EU states makes the cost of flights prohibitive (around 800 euros in my case). Due to the partial conscription declared on September 21st, flights are even more difficult to find. It is very likely that the country will close its borders in the near future."
“My problem and the reason I am asking for help is that it is becoming difficult and dangerous for me to return to Russia because of the war situation in which the country is in. The declaration of partial conscription is only a sample of what is to come. There were some who tried to downplay the situation of Greek students in Russia, saying that there is no war there. That can no longer be said. Russia is at war and we students will lose our studies. That is why we ask that our request for a transfer to the corresponding Greek universities be examined so that the efforts of so many years are not wasted," said the medical student.
He focuses on the economic and social difficulties that life in Russia now brings for a European, for a Greek, after the punitive measures against the Kremlin.
"Shortly after the start of the war, Russia was excluded from the SWIFT Interbank System. As a result of this, the transfer of remittances from Greece is impossible, while the vast majority of money sending services have stopped operating. As you can see, survival in Russia alone became extremely difficult. Due to the support shown by Greece in the war-torn Ukraine, I was faced with bad attitudes from some fellow students and professors of my university. One of the most intense incidents was in the general surgery class. The professor asked me to answer a question orally, as he did to all my fellow students at that moment. When I got stuck on a Russian word, the professor could have ignored it. He could have given me the grade that he himself considered appropriate and end there. Instead, he decided to address the class by addressing everyone.”
Explaining the reasons why he went to study in Russia, Vladimir states the following: “Study in Russia for me and my family was an economical and safe choice. Economical due to the cost of tuition and life in general. Certainly, because we had acquaintances who had studied there before and knew the procedures. I started the first year, during which I had to interrupt my studies temporarily for family reasons. From that point on, nothing unexpected happened. We thus arrive at June '22 when the situation inside Russia, after the so-called ‘Special Military Operation’ against Ukraine, brought me to an impasse and forced me to interrupt my studies for the second time."
Vladimiros' concern is shared by DA, also a medical student. "The war in Ukraine changed everything. Unfortunately, the sanctions against Russia have greatly affected the lives of all Greek students. So how can you continue studying if you can't live, since your family can't even send you money? For this reason we ask to go back to our country so that we can complete our studies," he pointed out.
The reaction of the Ministry of Education to the appeals for help of Greek students in Russia that was published was immediate.
As the Deputy Minister of Education, Angelos Syrigos, explained to ERT, the main problem faced by Greek students in Russia is sending money from their families since the country is blocked from the interbank system as part of the sanctions after its invasion of Ukraine.
"There has been an agreement with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the parents of these students give money to the Greek consulates in order for the children to take from there," said Syrigos to ERT .
Regarding the students' request for mediation in order to return to Greece, the Deputy Minister of Education noted that "there is no such thing as turning back, given that in Russia we do not have military conflicts".
Finally, Syrigos revealed that a special plan is in the process of being drawn up to find a solution for the approximately 12-14 students who, according to the information available to the Ministry of Education, are in Ukraine "because they are in danger as there are bombings.”