46 Israeli tourists detained at Moscow airport for hours before entering

The Wednesday incident follows the arrest of Naama Issachar, who was sentenced to roughly seven years in Russian prison for bringing illegal drugs into the country.

A security officer stands near closed El Al check-in counters in the departure hall at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv (photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
A security officer stands near closed El Al check-in counters in the departure hall at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv
(photo credit: REUTERS/NIR ELIAS)
46 Israeli citizens who attempted to enter Russia were being detained at the Moscow airport for several hours before being allowed to enter Russia, Haaretz, Mako and Ynet reported on Wednesday. The delay lasted six hours
Russian and Israeli citizens enjoy a visa-waver program between the two countries and should, in theory, have no difficulties when travelling between them. Ironically, at this time Israel does not have a full time ambassador representing it in the Russian Federation seeing as the previous ambassador ended his term four months ago and a new one had not yet been appointed, Mako reported.  
The Russian Embassy in Israel told Haaretz that according to its records, Israel also prevented the entry of Russian tourists into the country. The embassy claimed that, every day on average, 20 Russian tourists are being detained, denied entry to Israel and sent back to Russia. This is despite the fact they arrive as part of an organized tour and can prove they have money and are unlikely to use their brief stay to seek illegal employment.
In October, 568 Russian citizens were denied entry, with 569 being denied in November, according to the embassy.
The Israeli Foreign Office said it is looking into the report and is working to ensure the current visa-waver program continues as it had until now.
In an act that made headlines in Israel, Israeli-American citizen Naama Issachar was sentenced to roughly seven years in Russian prison after she was convicted of smuggling less than 10 grams of cannabis into the Russian Federation. Issachar’s lawyers argue that the cannabis was in her luggage, to which she did not have access to, as it was being moved from the plane she used to get to Russia from India to the plane she was hoping to use to get from Moscow to Tel Aviv.
Her lawyers suggest that not only is the amount very small, but that she had no way of passing it or selling it to anyone in Russia from her location at the airport.
In Israel, it was suggested that the arrest and imprisonment were a Russian attempt to prevent Israel from extraditing Russian citizen Alexi Burkov to the US for alleged credit card fraud.
Burkov himself was arrested when he entered Israel after spending a vacation in Egypt.
Justice Minister Amir Ohana authorized Burkov’s extradition to the US. Despite appeals from President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others who suggested Russian leader Vladimir Putin might pardon Issachar, she remains behind bars.
The Israeli Foreign Office denied that the current situation of Israeli persons detained at the Moscow airport might be connected to Naama Issachar. 


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