Recently Ms Loftus has seen more requests like the last one – clients with, as she puts it, “jurisdictional issues”. For a small but growing number of elite Russians, travel opportunities are increasingly limited. The trend was epitomised by the US Magnitsky act, which late last year imposed a US visa blacklist and asset freezes on roughly 60 Russians suspected of human rights violations. Its open-ended wording leaves open the possibility that the list of names will lengthen. The EU looks set to eventually pass similar legislation.
Meanwhile, the uncertain fate of Cyprus, once the favourite playground of Russia’s wealthy for its unbeatable combination of sea, sand and flexible approach to financial services regulation, may yet strike another holiday destination off the list.
In Soviet times, only the elite could travel. Today, it is the reverse: almost anyone in Russia can afford a week or two in Turkey or Egypt, but in some cases the foreign holiday dreams of the rich and powerful have been clipped, leaving them with few options.
Then, there was the mysterious caller who asked for “a holiday in a non-Interpol country” on behalf of his boss, who he would not name.