Two Russians banned from accessing the Château de Vincennes, the ministry pleads “a lack of discernment”

On July 28, two Russian women were refused entry to the Château de Vincennes because of their origin. A department of the Ministry of the Armed Forces justified this ban “following the invasion of Ukraine” to restrict “access to the ministry’s military premises for Russian nationals” ; the castle contains one of the centers of the Historical Defense Service (SHD) whose archives are accessible to the public. For its part, the office of the Minister for the Armed Forces regretted a lack of “discernment” supervisors, specifying that the tourist places are still open to Russians.

Restricted access for the Russians “to the military holdings of the ministry”

Since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, sanctions against Russia have sometimes been accompanied by discrimination against nationals from this country… even in the context of tourist visits. At the end of July, because of their origin, two Russian tourists were thus prohibited from visiting the Château de Vincennes, located southeast of Paris.

See also: The anti-Russian boycott on the fast track

Following this ban, one of the two women confided to AFP her emotion: “A guard at the metal detector asked to see my passport”. After showing it to him, the guard refuses entry. When she asks another guardian about the reason for this refusal, the answer is direct: “Because you are Russian”. A situation that deeply “upset” the 31-year-old, who said she fled Russia to settle in France “five months ago”being “opposed to war”.

This episode is the result of a “directive interne” taken by the service of the Ministry of the Armed Forces following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which restricted “access to the ministry’s military premises for Russian nationals”. Indeed, the Château de Vincennes notably contains one of the centers of the Historical Defense Service (SHD), whose libraries and archives are accessible to the public under certain conditions. One of the two tourists being a journalist by profession, the service of the Ministry of the Armed Forces nevertheless admitted that “requests relating to journalistic functions” could be made.

Following this incident, the Cabinet of the Ministry of the Armed Forces deplored a lack of “discernment” August 9.

A lack of “discernment” according to the Ministry of the Armed Forces

Contacted by AFP, Sébastien Lecornu, Minister of the Armed Forces, assured that the tourist places dependent on the ministry were still open to Russians. “It goes without saying that (this rule) cannot be applied in the same way for strategic buildings as for places open to the public such as museums”did he declare.

The Minister of the Armed Forces asked that we clarify this directive with the agents of these places to avoid any incident, ” added the cabinet. Thus, the Château de Vincennes, the Air and Space Museum, or even the Invalides are therefore accessible to Russian tourists and immigrants. On the other hand, since February, access to “strategic buildings” is strictly forbidden to them.

For his part, Jérôme Poirot, former deputy to the national intelligence coordinator, said on TF1 that “the aggressiveness of the Russian intelligence services has been very high everywhere in the West for about fifteen years now (…) and this aggressiveness of the Russian intelligence, it is of course even higher since the beginning of the second phase of the war in Ukraine”.

A situation that arouses the anger and incomprehension of the Kremlin.

The Kremlin denounces “hostile measures”

After this incident, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called on these countries to “regain their senses, denouncing “hostile measures” taken against its nationals in certain European countries. He indicated that “cThe statements come from countries that we have designated as unfriendly (…) Many of these countries are guided by their hostility to the point of unconsciousness”. And to add:I think in time common sense will prevail again and those who make these statements will come to their senses.”

In any case, this situation arouses the concern of Russians living abroad since, according to INSEE, “73,500 Russian immigrants lived in France in 2021”.

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