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For Russians, flying abroad is a difficult, costly affair

When Russian academic Mishaa decided in March to flee his country amid rumours of martial law, his options were limited and expensive.

Cut off from Europe due to the European Union’s ban on Russian aircraft, Mishaa, who comes from the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg, looked further east, where many former Soviet republics offer Russians visa-free entry.

“I booked a flight to Armenia because I have many Armenian friends, I was sure there’d be a community here, and you don’t need a visa,” Mishaa told Al Jazeera, who asked to use a  pseudonym. “Armenians generally think positively of Russians; there’s less historical tensions than with Georgia, for instance.”

Mishaa paid 40,000 roubles ($599), far more than usual, for his one-way flight to the Armenian capital Yerevan, a trip of less than four hours.

“When I bought tickets Russia was still in SWIFT, so I could still use my normal bank cards.

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