MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) – The Foreign Ministry has urged Russians in Turkey to be cautious and avoid the scenes of mass anti-government protests that have gripped the country since last week.
The ministry advised Russian tourists to avoid central parts of cities seeing protests, but suggested there was no reason to cancel trips to Turkish resorts.
“According to our information, there is no violence in the resorts of the provinces that are popular among Russian tourists,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday, adding that it has received numerous calls from Russians planning vacations in Turkey, the top tourist destination among Russians.
Over 3,000 people have been injured and at least three people have died in demonstrations in Turkey. Protests started last week with a sit-in by Istanbul residents angered by plans to demolish Gezi Park in central Istanbul and replace it with rebuilt Ottoman barracks and a shopping mall.
As the number of people protesting the mooted demolition of the park gradually increased, police moved in to disperse the crowds on Saturday by using tear gas. Outraged protesters reportedly responded by hurling stones and bottles at policemen.
Most of the casualties were reported in Istanbul, where demonstrations began before spreading to Ankara, Antalya, Izmir, Adana and other Turkish cities. Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the protests were organized by extremists.
Russia and Turkey introduced visa-free travel in 2011. Last year, over 3.6 million Russian tourists visited Turkey, an increase of 11 percent compared with 2011, Russia’s ambassador in Ankara, Vladimir Ivanovsky said.