Ten Israeli tourists denied entry to Russia, sent back home

Ten Israeli tourist landed in the Moscow airport, were detained there and eventually put on a flight back to Israel. "They must have been instructed to bring us back."

A general view shows the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia (photo credit: MAXIM ZMEYEV/REUTERS)
A general view shows the Saint Isaac's Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia
(photo credit: MAXIM ZMEYEV/REUTERS)
Ten Israeli tourists who arrived in Moscow airport on Friday on an Aeroflot flight were prohibited from entering Russia and were put on a flight back to Israel. Six of them belonged to an organized tour group and four were unrelated to the group or to each other. 
The Foreign ministry said in response to this event that Russian border control officers explained that the Israelis were denied entry as they allegedly did not provide a convincing reason for their visit.
Snir Kahlani, one of the members of the group who was denied entry, told The Jerusalem Post's sister publication Maariv that "at first it seemed like an irritating setback and nothing more, they took our passport details, we thought it was just standard procedure, until they called us to a room, took our fingerprints as well as a DNA sample. We still thought we were going to get in because five other people from our group did, while we stayed behind."
"They told us: 'You're going back to Israel on the 7 p.m. flight,' led us to a small locked room where we were kept for a few hours until the flight arrived. Two large men in uniform showed up and led us, cutting all lines and put us on the plane. We were on the way home for seemingly no reason." 
When asked if he thinks this has anything to do with the release of Naama Issachar from Russian custody and her return to Israel, Kahlani answered: "I'm naturally inclined to say it has nothing to do with it, I don't actually know, there are things that are going over our heads. It's hard to say it's a coincidence."
"I understand that one of their understandings with the Russians is reducing the amount of deportations from the airports," he continued. "It's big politics and we're just the ones who were hurt. We came here to do good things as tourists... guys from Moscow come to us and we accept them. In this case, there is no reciprocity, they sent us away as though we came to an enemy state."

Translated by Omri Ron
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