Russian governors and party leaders in several regions have informally restricted local officials from traveling abroad following controversy over civil servants’ wartime visits to luxury resorts overseas, the Kommersant daily reported Tuesday.
Two regional deputies faced public backlash, including from a top official at Russia’s ruling party, after footage of their New Year’s holidays in Mexico and Dubai circulated online. While in Dubai, one of them was spotted with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's daughter Ksenia Shoigu, whose holiday abroad did not draw any criticism.
According to Kommersant, the scandals prompted governors and the ruling United Russia party in at least seven Russian regions to issue “strong recommendations” for local officials to avoid foreign trips.
Though officials cannot be formally banned from traveling abroad, the recommendations appear aimed at preventing social tensions by curbing any display of extravagance.
“Everyone understands what this recommendation means,” Alexei Preobrazhensky, a senior official in the Ulyanovsk region governor’s office, told Kommersant.
The informal ban has reportedly been in place in the western Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine and Belarus, ever since Russian forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
The Belgorod and Kursk regions, which like Bryansk share borders with Ukraine, do not appear to have imposed travel bans for their respective officials.
Likewise, the ruling party in St. Petersburg has resisted banning its officials from trips abroad, with the United Russia leader in the city’s legislative assembly saying it’s “everyone’s personal business.”
“The problem is not someone’s trips, it’s immoral to boast about your vacation in a public setting,” Pavel Krupnik told Kommersant.
“There’s no ban on traveling abroad, but you need to behave decently,” Krupnik was quoted as saying.
The Kremlin denied that Russian officials are under a travel ban, calling regional initiatives “a question of ethics.”
Children and close relatives of top Russian officials have frequently been spotted vacationing abroad, including in NATO and EU states, despite the introduction of targeted Western sanctions against their parents and visa restrictions for Russian nationals, according to an investigation by independent news outlet The Insider published last week.