British expat living in Siberia forced to sleep rough in Russian airport

Published:  27 Sep at 6 PM
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British pensioner Steve Beard was forced to sleep rough in a Russian airport after falling foul of Russian immigration on his way to London.

Ten years ago, Steve met his Russian future wife online on a dating website, fell in love and abandoned his home country for a village in the wild wastes of Siberia. He married his schoolteacher turned business owner sweetheart and they now have an eight-year old son. His problems began when he decided to fly back to the UK to attempt to get his UK state pension sent to his Irkutsk region address to help with heating in the bitter minus 50C below winter temperatures.

He flew from Irkutsk to Moscow without difficulty, but his luck ran out when he was detained by Russian immigration because his residency permit had expired. Banned from leaving the country and without much in the way of funds, he decided to get a domestic flight to Pulkovo, hoping he’d be allowed to leave. Again, he was picked up by immigration and forbidden to take a flight to London. Without cash or a bank card, his only recourse was to stay in the airport’s terminal. For two weeks he slept in the terminal, washed in the restrooms, spent his last few roubles on food at the airport’s diners and simply sat around wondering what to do next.

Finally, his guardian angel arrived in the guise of a friendly Russian tourism official who’d seen the US movie The Terminal in which Tom Hanks played a stranded traveller. Ilya Tarashkevich first met Steve when he asked how he could receive a money transfer as a foreigner. On enquiry, Ilya discovered the bank wouldn’t make or receive transfers for foreigners, so he allowed Steve to use his card. Crucially, he also helped the desperate Brit to appear before a judge who understood his situation and allowed him to leave as well as making sure he’d be allowed to re-enter Russia on a new residency permit to be with his wife and son. He was fined 5,000 roubles, and is now busy preparing new documentation to ensure he’ll be allowed back after he’s sorted out his pension problems.
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