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Friday, April 14, 2006

From Russia with Xenophobia: How Russia Welcomes Tourists

As the Washington Post reports:

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A court in Russia's remote far east ruled on Friday that a Briton trying to walk 36,000 miles around the world should be deported for breaking border rules.

Former paratrooper Karl Bushby was detained on April 1 in the freezing wilds of the Chukotka peninsula after walking across the frozen Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska in the United States.

The court in the settlement of Lavrentiya fined Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer, an American who helped him cross the treacherous ice bridge, 2,000 roubles ($72.23) and ordered both to be deported, Bushby's support team in Britain said.

Andrew Cooper, one of the team, said by telephone that Bushby would have to return to Fairbanks, Alaska, after the decision, to await an appeal by his lawyers.

"Karl's father spoke to him this morning and we are optimistic that if we can get some help from (Britain's) parliament this can all be sorted out."

Bushby set off from the tip of South America in 1998 and hopes to return to Britain -- via the white solitudes of Russia -- in 2009, after a journey of some 60,000 km (36,000 miles).

He had planned to go south through Russian territory to Mongolia and then Kazakhstan.

Bushby, 37, has been leading news bulletins on Russian television, where his exploits have been held up as an example of British courage and eccentricity.

Chukotka is one of Russia's remotest regions. A Russian Orthodox priest put Bushby up, and an English teacher from the local school has been translating for the two adventurers, even in court, NTV television reported.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the men, who had commercial visas, should have informed the authorities they were arriving on foot and had such extreme plans, Interfax news agency said.

The support team were still hoping for eventual leniency.

"I would like to draw the attention of the Russian leadership to what Karl has achieved and endured over the past seven years, crossing some of the most dangerous areas of the world as well as the Bering Straits," Cooper said.

"He has achieved something that the whole world should be inspired by, and I ask the Russian leadership to allow him to continue."

I think the Soviets gave a warmer welcome to the guy who landed the small plane on Red Square, didn't they?

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