Umm Muhammed Umar
Well known South African economist, Dawie Roodt, his wife and two young daughters have been trapped in Russia, and finally arrived back home on Saturday. The family had been in Russia to attend a wedding. Roodt is married to a Russian citizen, who has both South African and Russian citizenship. Radio Islam spoke to Dawie Roodt.
Roodt said that they had two children, who have dual citizenship. He said, “we went into Russia with the South African passports and on the way out, there are two queues, one is for local citizens, Russians in this instance, and the other one is for international, for others.” He said that a customs official asked his wife whether the kids were Russian citizens, and she replied in the affirmative. He said that the trouble began when they came to the front of the non-Russian queue. The official wanted to know where, if they were Russian citizens, were the Russian passports. Roodt said they tried to explain that the children had entered the country with South African passports, but that the official said that Russian law prescribed that if you were a Russian citizen, you were only allowed to travel on Russian travel documents. They were not allowed to take their children out of Russia.
Roodt said, “So we went back late at night in the middle of night, without a cent.” His credit cards were redundant in Russia, and he had spent all the roubles he had, as they were leaving for South Africa. He said, “without a cent, without a place to stay, with two crying kids and a hysterical wife, and there we were. Fortunately, the couple still had their Russian SIM cards. They contacted friends and family in Moscow in the dead of the night, who then provided the family with some money and a place to stay.
Roodt said that the children did have Russian passports, but that they had expired, and a visa was not needed to visit Russia. He said, “we didn’t have the Russian passports because we were not aware of this specific rule, which basically says that Russia does not recognize dual citizenship.” He said that while they had entered Russia as South Africans, the Russians saw the children as Russian. Roodt said, “So, we contacted friends and……… Monday and Tuesday, last week, were public holidays in Russia, so we couldn’t do anything……. and we made contact with the Russian Embassy in South Africa and they assisted us, and we eventually applied to Russian passports for the kids.” He added, “Literally, within a day we got the Russian passports, but then we had to find another flight to come out and then eventually we found that, and we came back and we landed on Saturday morning.”
The whole debacle was simply about one particular rule and had nothing to do with the Russia – Ukraine conflict. Roodt said he would never take his children to any place dangerous. They were in Sochi, on the Black Sea, but had not seen any military activity. He said, “people even don’t even really talk that much about the war; of course, I as an economist wanted to find out what the impact was on the Russian economy, and what people think about that, and whether people support that.” He added, “I did speak to people, but we were in no danger whatsoever because of the conflict currently in the Ukraine. Roodt said that there were no shortages in Russia, and that the Russian economy was booming. He added, however, that it would take some time before the sanctions against the country would have an impact. He cautioned, “But there’s one issue already, and that is the inflation rate is rising, and people are complaining about that, especially retired people.” He added, “But the economy, for now, is doing quite well at the moment. But I think that is going to change, and I think the economy is going to go through quite a deep recession.”