A Train Incident
After the photographic equipment was found during the search, a question followed, “A journalist?” I nodded. The border guard takes my passport and leaves of about 5 minutes. He returns accompanied by 4 colleagues. The thorough search begins. My documents are re-inspected: editorial assignment, press card, press credentials. Then he’s disappearing with my passport again. Alone for 5 minutes more. Two of them return, “How long are you going to stay?” “For a week, I suppose”, I reply. “How much money do you have with you?” I tell the sum in cash and show my card. “Your return ticket?” I reply that I am travelling with an open return date, depending on the circumstances. “Don’t you know about the new law which says that one must show a return ticket on entering Ukraine?” No, I don’t.
They go away again. Two border guards return, accompanied by two SSU officers. They have searched for my name (Victor Maistrenko) in the database, and they know that I returned from Crimea not long ago. They ask about the purpose of my trip and where my previous reports can be found.
Answer: to show the real state of affairs to the readers when I return. “They show all you need on TV”, the SSU officer reacts “there’s no use in such trips”. Then they ask about Crimea. I tell them that the referendum showed the actual opinion of the Crimeans. The SSU officer, “What do you mean real? Says you! And the referendum was fair, eh?...” The border guards and the SSU officers stamp my passport with the Ukraine entry permit and leave.