The Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed stepped down on Tuesday following weeks of unrest. He handed over power to Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik. The situation has started to improve. A spokesperson for the Russian Embassy in Sri Lanka said that 2,000 Russian tourists currently vacationing in Maldives have nothing to worry about.
Maldives, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, has long been a tourist paradise. The number of Russians attracted to this destination grows each year. In 2011, about 40,000 Russian tourists visited Maldives. Tourism is what the Maldivian economy greatly relies on. Since the country has no industries of its own, and lives mainly on the production of souvenirs and clothes, tourism yet can’t be a source of comfortable living to all Maldivians. As a result of this, control over tourism services becomes politicized.
Earlier this year Nasheed ordered to close hundreds of spa and massage centers which were owned by businessmen who had opposite political views. A political crisis began which resulted in the Nasheed’s resignation.
Russia’s ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldivian Republic, Vladimir Mikhailov: “President was loosing public support…Tensions were growing, and clashes took place between police officers and the military. The president addressed the nation today to announce his resignation. Under the law, power was handed over to vice president… Clashes were reported only in Male, without spreading to other islands of the archipelago. Actually, local people and tourists who stay in hotels live in different areas. Not a single Russian tourist was affected by the clashes. When tensions broke out, we immediately issued a warning to all Russians willing to visit Maldives against going to Male until the situation calms down.”
Nevertheless, tourists who plan to visit Maldives are advised to be very careful and not leave their hotels.