Anti-Russia Protests Stir On Thai Isle
Published: January 30, 2013 (Issue # 1744)
MOSCOW — Hundreds of protesters on the Thai island of Phuket, a popular destination for Russian tourists, staged a protest Monday against “Russian-owned” businesses, accusing them of undercutting local competitors and taking jobs from native-born workers, the Phuket News newspaper reported.
Russians have made inroads into the taxi, restaurant, and laundry businesses, where they charge lower prices, badmouth locals and are a magnet for lucrative Russian-speaking tourists, the protesters said.
“So how can we keep living here? I have to do something to protect the rights of the local people,” one told the local newspaper.
The protesters, in the resort town of Bang Tao, focused their ire on the Alex Tour company, mobbing the business’s storefront and smashing its sign. They held placards and chanted “Alex Tour get out!” “Russian business get out!” and “Bang Tao Russian mafia free!”
Tensions had been simmering for weeks. At a rowdy town hall meeting this month, locals also accused Russians of scaring away other tourists.
But Alexander Kolesnikov, a Russian who has lived on Phuket for the past five years, said some of the anger was misplaced, as many businesses that employ Russians are actually Thai-owned.