In 20 days, SEF reports 58 Russians and 50 Belarusians apply for temporary protection
Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Portugal has received over 100 requests for temporary protection from either Russian or Belarusian citizens.
Considering numbers that have sought temporary protection in the recent past, this is a deluge.
Says Expresso, the years 2020 and 2021 saw less than 15 people of these nationalities asking Portugal for asylum.
The “exponential” increase comes largely because these citizens found themselves in Ukraine when war broke out, and didn’t want to return ‘to the motherland’.
The number includes 14 children, says Expresso.
The influx is certainly not exclusive to Portugal. Other countries have seen Russians literally flooding over their borders; Finland particularly.
This is because if citizens remain in Russia (or return, in the case of being absent abroad) and if they are men, over the age of 18 and under the age of 60, they face conscription into the armed forces.
Another factor is their own ‘awareness’: outside Russia, Putin’s propaganda machine has had little effect. Russians abroad are fully aware of who started the war, why – and who is to blame for the current agony in Europe and beyond.
The wonderful online appeal posted by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger resonates with them – and the law Vladimir Putin brought in criminalising any kind of public opposition to his actions has played a decisive role in citizens’ decision-making.
As Expresso explains, the war is not even permitted to be referred to as such. It is, according to Russia, simply “a special military operation”.
So while just over 100 Russians and Belarusians have cut their losses and chosen Portugal, others are going in other directions, some via Georgia and Armenia, where, according to the New York Times, planes are still authorised to fly.
There are reports of hotels, for example, in central Asia that are “filled with exiles”.
Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have also been receiving their share of rushing Russians.
But for Portugal, where animosity towards the Russian people seems non-existent, SEF is diligently processing these latest requests for temporary asylum.
As of yesterday, more than 13,000 requests from fleeing Ukrainians had already been granted.