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  • Writer's pictureRoger Duffy

Leaving Russia with all my family

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

This was a day with great sadness and great joy all at the same time. We had completed all the paper work that we could possibly be in need of to leave Russia, but this was Russia. Even the Bishops said, “you are just going to have to try to leave the country with what you have and see what happens”. This is not the assurance that I would have liked, but as I said “This is Russia”. We had packed our bags and I tried not be too hard on the things that Natasha wanted to take with her, but much of her life processions were of no use in America and had to stay. This was a huge step of faith for her because she had never left her country and most of all her dearly beloved parents. GOD had put us together and together we had planned to stay, or so we thought. With bags in one hand and paper work in the other, off we went with Natasha’s cousin Slava and her mother and father.

There at Moscow International Airport there are a few hurdles to pass before being in the area to board the airplane. First you must purchase tickets and prove who you are and have the right passport to leave the country. There is also a declaration of money you are leaving with. We seemed to have everything in order and so we proceeded to the area where they scan your luggage and place it into the shoot to be loaded onto the plane. Everything seem to be going well, but we could not smile yet, there was the last check point to overcome, that is the government checking of your boarding pass and paper work (visas). We stood in line almost motionless behind a tall French business man in a long dress coat and matching hat. The government worker in the check point area said “Where is you exit visa?” and in response the French man said “I’m French, I do not need an exit visa” and started to walk off to the duty-free area. Almost simultaneously two military police tackled him to the ground and with guns to his head led him off. We were without words and just stood there like deer’s looking into the head lights. We were called next and we sheepishly stepped forward and Natasha gave the officer her son’s paper work and after a few minutes of thumbing through it they passed him by. We were so relieved that what could have been a problem was just permitted to leave Russia. Next Natasha all eight months pregnant stepped forward and gave him her paper work. As well she was allowed to pass and we thought we were home free. Now it was my turn and expecting no problem with me after all, we spent the eight months securing paperwork for Natasha and her son. Almost assured I would hear that I could pass as he scanned through my passport and what did I hear? “You need an exit visa”. I was shocked, but I sure was not going to try what the French gentleman tried. They motioned me over to an area by myself and there I went. I was able to see my parents- in -law off between the walled barrier and motioned with hands put together as if praying before them, and I was in need of prayer right now. In ten minutes or so a small man came up to me and introduced himself as the head of the International Airport and that I had a problem. With no exit visa I would have to miss my flight and go to the USA Embassy and get an exit visa tomorrow and come back and pay a little more for an additional flight home. Or I could pay him $150.00 and he will give me an exit visa and I could leave on this flight. This seemed like a no brainer to me. My pregnant wife is on that plane and she has never left her country or speaks any other language then Russian. For the first time I payed the required money and he came back with a piece of toilet paper with something written in Russian and a stamp on it. I gave it to the guard with my passport and was permitted to pass. Entering the plane and coming up to my wife I said to her, “Now that everyone knows that you are Russian, please get out of your seat”. Not knowing what I was talking about she got up and I picked up her carry-ons and open the compartment above the seat placing them in. Yes, she was going to sit with her knees up to her throat and her feet on her carry on even though she was eight months pregnant for nine hours till she reached New York. I still wish I had that toilet paper pass, but I am more grateful that GOD is bigger that the problems that you may encounter in Russia.

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