Russia versus Ukraine in Goa

Russia vs Ukraine And The Tourism Impact on the Tiny State of Goa, India


Russia vs Ukraine, and the ensuing suspension of Russian airlines’ international flights beginning March 6 – is wreaking havoc on Goa’s charter season.

According to the Times of India, the season has already been hampered by lower bookings from Russian destinations.

Between October and mid-May, charter flights come in considerable numbers in Goa. However, given the current scenario, it is uncertain when flights will resume normal operations.

“Of course, if Russia vs Ukraine continues, no charters will be issued in April.” If the battle ends, though, we may see a few planes next month. The Times of India quoted Concord vice-president Sheikh Ismail as saying, “We’re still getting bookings, but they’re much less.”

At the moment, Kazakhstan only sends charters to Goa once a week. Russia has traditionally been the source of the majority of the charter flights landing in Goa. Russians go to Goa in such significant numbers that Russian versions of shack menus, signboards, and even store signs can be found.

“All Russian operators take charters on lease.” They will be in danger if a fleet of charters leased to Russian operators is withdrawn as a result of the sanctions,” says Ralph de Sousa, head of the Goa Chamber of Commerce.

Given the turmoil, tourists from Belarus, Georgia, and other CIS nations are also unlikely to travel at this time, he noted.

The tourism business in Goa has suffered losses for the past two years as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Times of India said that the resumption of charter flights in December 2020 came as a huge relief to some enterprises. The state’s first post-pandemic charter flight arrived from Russia.

The idea of charter tourists arriving in Goa made hotel owners thrilled as well. “The majority of these visitors stayed in Goa for 14 to 21 days. Many hotels that have been in financial trouble for the previous 20 months rely on charter business to stay afloat. Since other segments rely on charters coming into Goa, this vertical will help the overall business,” Nilesh Shah, head of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, told the publication.

Goa’s tourism business relies heavily on foreign visitors. The state’s hospitality industry has struggled in the last two years without them. While the restart of charter flights had raised hopes, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has now again dampened spirits.

Information courtesy The Wire

Impact of Russia vs Ukraine in Goa

As parishioners gathered at St Sebastian’s Chapel on Friday evening to pray for peace in Ukraine, peace flags were hoisted as prayers and music resonated across Panaji’s Fontainhas area. On a screen, the Ukrainian flag fluttered, images from the country’s war-torn regions were shown, and Father Roque Da Costa conveyed a message of peace. This was not, however, the first such gathering in Goa.

Songs in honour of Lord Shiva were performed at a lodge near the Arambol beach in north Goa a week ago on the evening of Mahashivratri. The majority of the folks in the circle around the vocalist were Russian. Among the chants and prayers, though, were expressions of support for Ukrainians and concern over their own country’s actions.
Paul McLay, a filmmaker and singer from Moscow, defines himself as a mixed-blood Russian who has lived in Goa since the first Covid lockdown in 2020. He claims that the lockdown brought all of Goa’s populations together, including Russians, Ukrainians, Europeans, and locals, and that they have been living as one ever since. McLay, who condemns the bloodshed in Ukraine, claims that the conflict hasn’t created any new schisms and that the community, in which many Ukrainians speak Russian, remains unified in its appeal for peace.

However, as Russian military marched into cities across Ukraine over the previous month, there has been concern among Ukrainians in Goa. The majority of them were chatting to their family back home while hearing bombardment in the background, about supermarkets running out of essentials and sirens urging their Kyiv families to go underground.

russians in goa
Pic Credit – Harsha Prabhu

Continuous monitoring of news from back home has taken over their life in the lush lanes of north Goa, with new WhatsApp and Telegram groups of Ukrainians in Goa reaching out to each other. Even as many of them struggle with sleepless nights, they are attempting to assist their fellow citizens in Goa in coping with the rising load of terrible news from home.

Mariia Skutova, 30, is a leather clothing designer who lives in Sangolda. She was at home in Kyiv until November of last year, where she used an app to book rail tickets. When sirens in Kyiv warn people to go underground, the app is now also a platform that sends out alerts.

Skutova also receives the notifications on her phone. She’s on the phone with her mother a few minutes later, checking to see if she’s arrived at a safe location. “She stated that the grocery has no bread or meat. “She could only get porridge packages,” Skutova recalls.

While many Russians in Goa have reached out to their Ukrainian friends, Skutova says she had to unfriend a Russian friend on social media who told her that videos of explosions in Ukraine were phoney. “Someone you know who is aware of the problem yet chooses to ignore it.” I’m not sure how to express how I feel. I try to avoid going out and getting into fights. She says, “I only hope I still have some Russian pals.”

Yevheniya Marenych (35), a Kharkiv native, agrees that while most Ukrainians and Russians in Goa are attempting to help each other, some Russians have made interaction “difficult.” “Some folks don’t have an open heart or mind. They simply have a strong point of view that is diametrically opposed to ours,” she explains.

Marenych is the owner of a Goa-based entertainment organisation that represents Ukrainian and Russian musicians. “Sanctions on Russia may have an impact on my Russian colleagues.” “I can’t leave them or stop working with them…we have to support each other regardless of what’s going on at home,” she says.

Marenych claims that in the 15 years she has lived in Goa, she has never felt the need for an organisation or an NGO to assist Ukrainians in the state. “However, I believe we now require one,” she continues.

Denis Chernenko, a Russian passport holder, rides a two-wheeler with blue and yellow ribbons, the colours of the Ukrainian flag. In his backpack, he has a ‘Stop War’ sign.

Chernenko is a Ukrainian who was born in St Petersburg. “I am ashamed that folks in my motherland are being killed because of someone who handed me my passport,” he says. He claims that a post he made on a Facebook group was removed by the moderators. “The conflict is also being waged online.”

Many Russians, according to Chernenko, were hesitant to express their opinions for fear of receiving a prison sentence when they returned home for crimes comparable to “treason.” He has no intention of returning.

For many years, North Goa has served as a microcosm of East Europe. With long-term business visas, Russians, Ukrainians, and other East Europeans have made Goa their home in a variety of businesses, including entertainment, clothes, accessories, hospitality, fitness, and art.

ukrainians in Goa
Pic Credit – Harsha Prabhu

According to Ukrainian Embassy officials, the Embassy has registered roughly 1,000 Ukrainian nationals living in India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. However, the number of Ukrainians living in India could be larger. The number is thought to be over 1,000, with the majority of them residing in Goa, according to Embassy authorities.

Returning home is a concern for Russians as well as Ukrainians. Every monsoon, Russian cosmetologist Roman Naumov, 40, of Morjim, returned to Moscow. “I don’t want to return till the conflict is ended.” “The (worth) of the Rouble has also decreased, and this has had an impact on our financial lives,” he says.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began earlier this week, I joined a group of about 100 people trekking down Goa’s Arambol beach to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people and demand a peaceful conclusion of Russia vs Ukraine.

Many of the people in my immediate vicinity were waving Ukrainian flags. “Stop the War” was written on some of the signs. Other indications were more direct.” “Fuck Putin,” as the saying goes.

Goa is a famous tourism destination for Russian and Ukrainian visitors. Prior to the pandemic, roughly 90,000 Russian visitors visited Goa between October 2018 and May 2019. Only 3,000 Russians have arrived in the state so far this season.

Many Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, a handful from other European countries, and some Indians were among the marchers in Arambol on Monday.

A Ukrainian woman sang, “Glory to Ukraine.” “We salute our heroes.”

“We want peace!” was the most popular chant.

“We had no idea this would happen,” a Tatarstan woman said, referring to one of Russia’s 22 republics. “We didn’t choose this. I want to help Ukraine, but I also want to live in peace.”

Pic Credit – Harsha Prabhu

Russian vs Ukraine in the twenty-first century, according to a young Indo-Russian woman, is insane. “If Putin goes nuclear, he will destroy Ukraine, Russia, and the world,” she said.

“Putin is using our country to attack Ukraine,” a Belorussian woman said, referring to Russia’s decision to transfer troops and munitions through her country.

A Russian adolescent had his own view on the matter. He was outraged by “Russian police attacking peace demonstrators in my nation like crazy,” to begin with.

“You must comprehend the context to this narrative,” he continued. Ukraine is under American authority. This is something the media will not tell you. And every neo-Nazi in the country has gone to fight the Russians. But, once again, the media will keep you in the dark.”

He was referring to Viktor Yanukovych, the country’s elected pro-Russian president, who was deposed in 2014 in what many see as a US-backed coup, and the fact that the country’s current president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a comedy actor, is pro-NATO.

The march came to a close with a message of support for the Ukrainian people and shouts for peace, which were echoed by the throng.

Information courtesy – Scroll