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How I Got Kicked Out of Russia

By Anne Nivat, a freelance war reporter who continues to travel across the former Soviet Union, Iraq and Afghanistan. Her latest book published in English is The Wake of War: Encounters With the People of Iraq and Afghanistan (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 29/02/12): It’s a Friday night, 6 p.m., pitch black, minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m back in my hotel room in Vladimir, a small town 200 kilometers from Moscow, when I get a call from the receptionist asking me to come downstairs. She has “something to ask me.” Strangely, she refuses to speak on the phone and wants me to come to her. When I see the five stern-looking men standing by the counter at reception, I realize that I should have stayed in my room. Two of them introduce themselves, badges in hand, as agents from the Federal Migration Service (F.M.S.). “Papers, please.” In Russia, foreigners must register with the police at every stop during their travels; hotels take care of the paperwork. I know the rule and follow it, but apparently that’s not good enough t...
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