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January 30, 2023
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The Flip Side of Ukrainian Refugees: A Romanian Story

The flood of the Ukrainian refugees started pouring into Romania at the beginning of the so-called “special operation” and into other neighbouring countries, such as Poland or the Republic of Moldova. Hundreds of thousands of refugees, sometimes with nothing else but a bag of clothing, queued up in kilometric lines trying to pass the border. Some walked for days and waited for days in line before stepping into Romania.

Many of the refugees, most of them women, fled the conflict with their kids. Some got sheltered in refugee camps, others, with generous families’ support within Romanian homes. Others went to hotels, where they were offered free meals and accommodation.

But not all of them. And this is the flip side of the Ukrainian refugees’ story. It’s something that many people refuse to think about. Some say these things don’t have to be told, so the efforts towards helping the most refugees won’t dwindle. Others say we shouldn’t publish this story because we go against our readers’ opinions. But we know we should present the events as they happen, not its censored version.

So it begins…

The rich Ukrainian, the racketeers and the big city boys arrive by thousands in Romania

It’s something obvious, which the mainstream media refuse to cover. Among all those refugees who find it challenging to make it through in a foreign country, with no money and at the mercy of the authorities or the locals, some refused the free accommodation and meals offered by the Romanian Government.

The rich: “Do you have SPA in your hotel? We would pay for it!”

Some wealthy Ukrainians ask for SPA within the hotels where they stay at the mercy of the Romanian authorities. Some leave the 3-star hotels for 5-stars ones. Of course, at their own expense.

SPA in Romania

I was approached by one of the refugees who ended up here. He asked me if we had any luxury suites. As I told him we didn’t, he told me he refuses the free accommodation and meals he had if staying with us and he left for Bucharest to a 5-star hotel. Of course, he had to pay for staying there, but he told me he could afford it.

Others asked me to show them the SPA we had in the hotel. They paid for accessing this facility. They don’t seem at all the refugees we see on TV.

Manager of a 3-star hotel in Eforie Nord, at the Black Sea

While most refugees accommodate in barely livable conditions, others ask for SPA or refuse the 3-stars offered for free. This is too low for their standards, even though they have escaped the much worse in their country.

But there’s much more to it than that.

The racketeers: millions of USD hidden in their cars

On 12.03.2022, around 17.00, at the Albița Border Crossing Point, two Ukrainian citizens (husband and wife) showed up to enter Romania with a car registered in Ukraine.
Based on the risk analysis, border guards and customs officers carried out a thorough inspection of the vehicle.
Following the checks, several goods were discovered in the luggage in the car (9 watches of different brands, jewellery, 24 bags with the names of recognized companies and undeclared foreign currency amounts (over $ 1.6 million and over 50,000 euros).
In this case, the competent prosecutor’s office was notified, the goods and the amounts in foreign currency being seized in order to continue the investigations.

Romanian Border Police Press Release, March 12, 2022
Ukrainian refugees money found by Romanian Border Police in a car
Money was found in one of the cars of the Ukrainian refugees. Photo source: Romanian Border Police

Illicit activities bring more money than you can imagine. And this is just one of the examples. There are tens of them. But the law must be respected in Romania. It’s not Ukraine anymore.

The big city boys: SUVs and expensive cars in front of luxury hotels in Bucharest

They don’t have more than 35 years, but they’re all driving expensive SUVs. Some care about the environment and opt for expensive electric vehicles. But, with no exception, they choose the 5-stars hotels. It’s way better than in their home country.

We took some photos in front of the best hotels in Bucharest and here’s what we found.

By their license plates, most of them are from Kiev (Kyiv), Odesa, Donetsk or Kharkiv, regions already occupied by the invaders or under heavy fighting.

Range Rover Sport (this is low-priced car for them)

Range Rover Sport in Romania

BMW X5, Mercedes GL (the Kiev boys)

Luxury cars in Romania

Why do you picture our cars?

“I like them. Are they yours?

Yes, they are.”

“Nice cars. Take care!”

Friendly dialogue with the owners of the cars in front of a 5-star hotel in Bucharest

BMW X7 (note the bag of the last night’s dinner on the pavement)

Luxury SUV in Romania belonging to the Ukrainian refugee

BMW X7 (“Please, wash me!” style)

X7 in Bucharest, Romania

Mercedes and Audi SUVs

Luxury SUVs in Romania - all belonging to Ukrainian refugees

Mercedes G (Gelik, as they call it in the ex-soviet countries)

Gelik in Bucharest, Romania

Volswagen Touareg

Touareg in Bucharest, in front of Marmorosch Hotel

Teslas (the owners do care for Bucharest air)

Teslas in Bucharest

Toyota V8

Toyota V8 belonging to rich Ukrainan in Bucharest

Mercedes GLC

Mercedes GLC in Bucharest - Ukrainian refugee

Is there a problem in being rich? But of course not!

Romania welcomes the poor and the rich fleeing the conflict. It also holds the weak women who left behind their husbands and the strong men who were supposed to defend their country. It welcomes everybody who escaped the bombing nightmare.

But these cases could turn the welcoming population against the refugees. How? Bare with us…

Famous medical clinic in Romania suspends free services to the Ukrainian refugees. It’s just the beginning…

Why? Let’s read their official announcement and understand why:

We live in turbulent times, in which it is good to keep our reason and take care of ours in the first place. Since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, in Romania, more people have died as a result of the Covid-19 infection, than civilians in that conflict zone. We publicly announce the suspension of our free services offered to the Ukrainian refugees. This is also due to the fact that most of the Ukrainian citizens who used our services free of charge did so in luxury cars, in order to transit the country, not as a control or prevention measure.

OK Medical official announcement

The problem with the wealthy Ukrainians is not their wealth but their behaviour. While staying in 5-star hotels, paying hundreds of euros a night and spending at least the same for SPA and entertainment, one cannot possibly ask for free medical service unless he lacks common sense.

OK Medical is just one medical clinic to suspend its free services to the Ukrainian refugees. There will be other providers to discontinue their offers. The flip side of the fair welcoming of the refugees is already out in public. And the behaviour of the rich would impact the most.

Instead of conclusion

It would not be our business if the Ukrainian oligarchs paid thousands of euros to their customs police to leave them to pass the border to Romania despite the martial law. It’s not our business how they got rich and plan to spend their money while in Romania. And it’s surely not our business if their fellow Ukrainian citizens fight under heavy bombardment while they party in Bucharest.

But we should certainly present the flip side of the refugees’ flood. And the Romanian authorities should definitely do their job to ensure all these refugees respect the law.

Funds are being collected by the Romanians to help the Ukrainian refugees. Now it’s clear a selection has to be done, as some refugees have plenty of money, but still want to benefit from the warm welcoming in Romania.

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