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Phuket residents frustrated at Russian-only economy

FILE PHOTO: The Phuket News

The surge in Russians moving to Phuket as their home country’s war on Ukraine shows no sign of ending is creating tensions of its own on the holiday island. A report by Daily Beast states that a growing number of Russian nationals are moving to Phuket to avoid being drafted into the war.

In response, Phuket residents are voicing their frustration, claiming a Russian-only economy now exists, with jobs being stolen from local Thais and a surge in property prices, making it much more difficult for renters to find somewhere to live.

According to Al Jazeera, over 400,000 Russians arrived on the island between January and July of this year, which is double the numbers seen before the war on Ukraine began. Russians are buying property, setting up businesses, and taking advantage of long-stay visas to avoid their country while the war continues.

However, some Phuket residents are not happy, claiming that many Russian-owned companies are in fact Russian-only businesses, where all the staff are Russian and business is conducted through Russian-language apps. There are even claims of Russian sex workers catering only to Russian customers.

Not surprisingly, the island’s public transport drivers have something to say on the matter. Prayut Thongmusik, president of the Phuket van drivers’ club, accuses Russians of operating illegal taxi services.

“They drive personal vehicles that have not been registered with the Thai transport department as service vehicles, picking up tourists who book them through a Russian app, offering nearly 20% cheaper fees than us. They make sure all the roubles stay with the Russians.”

Phuket residents also accuse Russians of driving up crime on the island, including violating the law that dictates that certain professions can only be carried out by Thai nationals.

However, there has been more serious crime too, such as the shooting of a Russian businessman in north Phuket last June and a Russian man arrested for alleged involvement in a Cambodian scam operation.

SOURCE: Daily Beast

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