ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Russia has warned its citizens against traveling to Iraq as violent anti-government protests continue to rage in central and southern provinces.
The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement on Saturday, where it advised its citizens not to visit Iraq amid the nationwide demonstrations.
“The Russian Foreign Ministry points out that because of the difficult situation, continued terrorist activity in a number of Iraqi regions, and difficulties in providing consular assistance, the visits of Russian citizens to this country carry very high risks,” a foreign ministry statement read.
Since they began in early October, widespread protests in Iraq have resulted in the deaths of at least 270, while some 12,000 have been injured.
Demonstrators are calling for radical change in Iraq’s political system, which they say fails to address their needs, but, rather, serves the interests of a small governing elite.
The protests over the past month reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the economy, including high levels of unemployment, the dismal state of public services, and widespread government corruption.
The United Nations has called for an end to the bloodshed, urging both protesters and security forces to end violence and begin dialogue.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi has also called for an end to the nationwide protests, which he complained are affecting the country’s economy.
Demonstrators have used tires, stones, and metals to block the main entrance to Iraq’s main Gulf port, Umm Qasr, which receives imports of grain, vegetable oils, and sugar shipments and is one of the most significant ports in Iraq.