Franck Ferrari takes stock of the French in Russia

The adviser to French people living abroad in Moscow, Franck Ferrari, takes stock of the situation of French people in Russia, for

In a “rant” interview, the elected consular depicts the week of the French community in Russia. He mentions the problems encountered in leaving the country and with Visa and Mastercard credit cards, but also the possibility of an upcoming closure of the French school in Moscow, which he strongly opposes.

A wave of panic among the French in Russia

On March 2, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advised French people residing in Russia that if “[leur] presence and that of their family is not essential” to leave the country. The declaration triggered a wave of panic and departures within the French community, admits Franck Ferrari at the microphone of

According to him, if part of the companies pulled the curtain, another only paused to assess the day-to-day situation. Indeed, as the president of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce Emmanuel Quidet affirmed, on Monday March 7 on the set of TF1, the French having gone will hardly be able to return afterwards. Therefore, the adviser considers that the decision to leave the country permanently was taken in haste.

The state of the French community in Russia

At present, it is impossible to establish how many French people are still there, because the situation is changing daily. However, the elected official assumes that more than half have left the territory and that there are essentially bi-national families left.

Also, Franco-Russian relations “are always good” in the Federal Republic, believes Franck Ferrari. In addition, he observes tensions with regard to the French from Russia who have arrived in France. Indeed, since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin, we have observed a hostile climate towards Russian restaurants, but also towards our fellow citizens returning from expatriation.

Towards a possible closure of the French school in Moscow?

“We do not touch the children!” If the question arises, in the eyes of the professor, it is out of the question to close the French high school. For the moment at least, classes will resume remotely from March 15 and face-to-face in early April depending on the decision taken on March 25. Like French nationals, resident teachers have been asked to leave the country.

Currently, nearly 500 to 600 children and 90% of teachers are waiting for the start of the school year. Thus, closing the school would be tantamount to betraying all the families who have chosen French-style education according to the elected consular.

Difficulties in leaving Russia

For its part, the consulate has gone into “crisis mode” and has set up a listening hotline for the French community. If his employees are inundated with phone calls concerning the regularization of French families, Franck Ferrari salutes the flexibility they are showing in this period.

Passengers in front of the departures board at Moscow airport on March 5, 2022. (AFP)

In addition to the convoys organized to cross the borders, several rail and air lines are open, such as in the direction of Estonia, Qatar, Morocco or even Yerevan in Armenia. In addition, the elected official protests that the train between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg is only accessible to Russians and Finns. Indeed, the government of the northern country blocks access to other nationalities according to Mr. Ferrari.

The problem of Visa and Mastercard credit cards

“That too is magnificent, it’s brilliant, it’s grandiose” ironically the teacher vis-à-vis the problems related to credit cards. Since Monday, March 7, the bank card giants have imposed sanctions on Russia, blocking Russian bank cards abroad and vice versa. Only, the first to suffer from the decisions are the people fleeing the largest country in the world. For example, many French exiles in neighboring countries do not have access to their bank account and find themselves stranded penniless. The problem is even more difficult to manage for Russian political refugees who are obliged to return to their country to have access to their savings. Finally, Franck Ferrari judges that this decision is a godsend for the administration of Vladimir Putin, and a major problem for the victims of his policy.

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  • Mathieu Hutin is based between France and Switzerland. In addition to articles and podcasts for, he is editor-in-chief of H20 radio in Savoie.

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