Still waiting for my Rasdoryazheniye (расдоряжение).
Monday March 10, 2008 - 47.6097° N, 122.3331° W
Yes! I am still in Seattle!
I have modified my schedule on line to reflect a more realistic departure date in early April in Egvekinot, Chukotka.
Here is some background on what I am currently facing.
The autonomous region of Chukotka, where I need to return to continue my circumnavigation of the globe is one of the most closed regions of Russia.
As the newspaper The Globe and Mail reported in August 2007:
"Chukotka -Russia's most northeastern state is possibly the last place in the world that has breathtaking scenery, a rich culture and virtually no tourism. In this land, where ice and rock meet the Pacific and Arctic oceans, it's common to encounter people who have never before met a Westerner. But the bureaucrats in this region are a legacy of the past (i-e: Soviet times) and do not allow easy entry for tourists. A special permit called a rasdoryazheniye is required and takes many months and much patience to acquire. This hurdle may well be a blessing that keeps Chukotka a forgotten secret for years to come."
"Blessing" or not, this is definitely making my 3rd entry into Chukotka challenging!
So yes, Russians and foreigners alike need to have this additional permit called "Rasdoryazheniye" (расдоряжение) to be able to enter Chukotka, and this is not required in other parts of Russia.
To receive my rasdoryazheniye, I need to have a Chukotkan local resident "invite / sponsor" me and vouch to look after me for the entire duration of my stay. This sponsor also needs to be registered with a special division of the government and they are only a handful of persons (mostly "tourist" agents) in the autonomous region of Chukotka who have this type of special registration.
After having been turned down by a previous agent, I am currently in discussion with several other agents to define which one would be the most adept to work with a one man expedition and invite me back into the Chukotkan territory within the shortest timeframe. Once I would have reached an agreement with this company, I will transfer all of the documents that were previously submitted and approved by the local administration to complete my rasdoryazheniye. This whole administrative process might still take a minimum of 45 days to transfer previously submitted documents from one company to another...
In addition, because free travel is not allowed, I have submitted to the local authorities a detailed itinerary and outline of my route so that it can be approved by the local administration and military.
I must also seek advance permission from the local mayor /administration for each community I will enter on my route.
This of course creates an additional level of complexity while planning and explains why it would be very difficult for me to change my route once in the country.
Taking into account that spring is coming, I am currently looking at having to travel some sections in the tundra with my skis and sled and potentially some sections through the local river system with a local native kayak such as the one in the picture above.
Since I also might have to be "escorted", I am currently in communication with different potential guides in the region. Each one has his own set of constraints... a fisherman not too eager to ski and / or trek and a reindeer herdsman not willing at all to get on a kayak... But nothing is not solvable...
Finally, I have recently found out about tougher visa rules in Russia according to The Moscow News: "Foreigners who obtain a multiple entry visa that is active for a year will be able to stay for no more than 90 consecutive days, and no more than a total of 180 days out of a year"
What this means for me, is that in the future, each time I will enter Russia, the clock will start ticking upon my arrival. I will have 90 days to cover as much ground as I can via human power before I willl have to leave and stay out of Russia for the next 90 days.
This pressure will definitely start to bring back memories from my racing days when the clock was constantly ticking....
Finally, as my russian grandmother would have suggested, I am currently carefully observing my oracle domovoi to find out what the future is going to bring....
As some of you might know, if he starts laughing, good times can be expected....