This is Part III (and the final part) of the human interest story about Dionis Petrov and his family.
When last we left off, the Ukrainian blogger and dairy farmer from the Poltava region, has arrived with his family in the remote region in Western Siberia called Khanty-Manskiysk. According to the travel piece I just linked, Khanty is actually quite a beautiful place with a rich history. It is a booming oil town, and also a training center of biathlon skiing.
But unfortunately even out there in Siberia, Petrov is told that he cannot legalize his status, since he is not from Donetsk or Luhansk.
Was it an issue with the quotas?
No, it wasn’t about the quotas, it was just “We can’t take you in.” In my opinion, the Migration authorities are simply misinterpreting the ruling, which only says to give preference to refugees from the DPR/LPR. It doesn’t say that everybody else has to be turned down! I try to explain to them, that there is nowhere else for me to go, with a wife and little kids, that my short-term visa is expiring, that there is the threat of persecution in my homeland, due to political reasons. The (female) worker in the Migration Service wrote down all of this information and told me to come back in a few days.
Where did you go? Who helped you find a place to live?
We moved in with some friends. They set aside two rooms for us in a small house, which had been provided for them by the “Prikhozhane”.
My friend advised me to stop by the “United Russia” (political) office. They (UR) had helped him out, in an analogous situation. So I stopped by the Party offices, spoke with one of the deputies, he promised to do “everything he could”. And the very next day, his (female) assistant phoned me and told me to go see a specific person working at the Migration Services. The deputy had asked this man specifically to take charge of my case.
Only then, after the Migration Services Office of Khanty-Mansiysk, had received two appeals on behalf of the Petrov family — one from the Eparchy, and one from the United Russia Party offices — only then did things start to happen. It’s the only way to break through the bureaucratic armor. Dionis’ wife Alyona had already received a status of “temporary refugee”, which also included the children. But for Dionis, the situation was still far from resolved.
[Dionis continues with his story]:
When they went through my database, they found, that in Krasnodar I had already received a status of refugee. So, it was necessary to have them send the documents from there to Khanty-Mansiysk, so that I could establish my status here as a temporary refugee.
It turned out that my situation was half-illegal. On the one hand, I do have status in the FMS registry as one who has received temporary refugee status. But on the other hand: I don’t have papers to prove it. This puts me at risk, in case somebody has to check my passport, if I can’t explain myself, I would end up behind bars! But this doesn’t scare me too much, it’s not the Wild West, after all. Although, it’s an inconvenience to be sure, because I can’t find work or even visit the polyclinic.
Do you feel that you have settled in here, in Khanty-Mansiysk? After all, the climate is very different here, one wonders how that will affect the health of the children?
I like this city very much. It’s not big, but it’s very nice. They have everything here: colleges, lots of activities for children. I still nurture the dream, of course, of returning to Crimea, all the more so as we came this close to buying a house there. But I can’t worry about that right now.
Are you having issues with medical care? I know that’s very important for children.
We did have some issues with the children’s clinic. Again, everything comes down to the human factor. The local pediatrician outright refused to see us without an insurance card. They were going to force us to pay cash (to examine the children), even though the FMS assured us that the visits were free for people in our situation. In the end we had to go to a regional hospital. They found the solution there, by getting the FMS to write a letter guaranteeing payment.
[The interview ends, the rest is commentary from the reporter, who does not give his byline]:
Concludes by saying that the Petrov family plans to use the “Fellow Countrymen” program in the future, in the hopes of receiving a short path to Russian citizenship.