The Foreign Office has warned tourists travelling to Russia to expect ‘anti-British sentiment and harassment’ in the coming weeks.
British visitors to the country have been told to avoid ‘commenting publicly on political developments’ amid the UK’s stand-off with Putin’s regime over the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal.
The warnings come just three months before the start of the World Cup, to which many England fans are expected to flock.
British tourists heading to Russia have been warned they could face harassment in the wake of the UK expulsion of 23 diplomats, which was announced today
The Foreign Office updated its travel advice for Russia shortly after Theresa May said she was expelling 23 diplomats today.
The new advice states: ‘Summary – addition of information and advice for British nationals currently in Russia or due to travel in the coming weeks; due to heightened political tensions between the UK and Russia, you should be aware of the possibility of anti-British sentiment or harassment at this time.
‘You’re advised to remain vigilant, avoid any protests or demonstrations and avoid commenting publicly on political developments.
‘While the British Embassy in Moscow is not aware of any increased difficulties for British people travelling in Russia at this time, you should follow the security and political situation closely and keep up to date with this travel advice.’
British police have estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 British soccer fans were expected to travel to Russia in the Summer for the finals of the World Cup.
England play Tunisia in Volgograd in their first match on June 18.
Prime Minister Theresa May announced a number of measures against Russia in the Commons
Announcing the action in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May said the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia amounted to ‘an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom’.
She announced the suspension of high-level contacts with Russia, including a boycott of this summer’s World Cup by Government ministers and members of the royal family.
And she said Russian state assets will be frozen ‘wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents’.
Russia’s embassy in London denounced the move as ‘unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted’, after Moscow denied any connection with the Salisbury incident.
Speaking ahead of the PM’s statement, a spokesman for Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters: ‘Moscow won’t accept absolutely unfounded accusations against it, which are not substantiated by any evidence, and won’t accept the language of ultimatum.’
England and Russia fans clashed at the 2016 European Championships in France
But Mrs May said Russia had failed to provide a ‘credible’ explanation for how the Novichok nerve agent which it had developed came to be used in the attack on the Skripals, who remain in hospital after being found slumped on a bench on March 4.
She told MPs: ‘There is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of Mr Skripal and his daughter – and for threatening the lives of other British citizens in Salisbury, including Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey.
‘This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom.’