Well, at least Marta is happy: she's got her new puppy somewhat sooner than she was supposed to.
I'm well aware that we are not the first ones to get a kick in the ass, nor are we the last ones, unfortunately.
Most of the visa trouble stories I remember have to do with the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, and they are pretty old.
There was one guy from Cherkassy, for example, who almost got a rejection stamped into his passport - because there was a person with the same first and last names on the embassy's "black list" - and they initially hadn't bothered to check his patronymic and date of birth as well, despite the fact that his name was a pretty ubiquitous Ukrainian name.
There was also a friend who had received very good education in the States and was about to start on a very good internship, but something got into her and she decided to come back to Ukraine for about a month, to see her family and get a new passport, but then she was grounded, because the embassy wouldn't re-issue her a visa. She's one of the brightest people I know, so she's doing very well in Ukraine now and is free to travel anywhere she likes, including the United States. But some of the heartbreak she and her family had been through because of some silly fart at the consulate deserves being described in a short story or something.
To be fair, I've never had any problems with my visas so far, mashaallah, but my case isn't too typical because I've only been traveling to Turkey since around 2001. But I do know plenty of people in both Russia and Ukraine who travel a lot and for whom everything has been going very smoothly.
And there are, of course, all those reverse visa stories: our labor migrants, zarobitchany.
I've just done a quick search, and here's one of the relevant stories in English, a 1-year-old BusinessWeek reprint from the Transitions Online - How Labor Migration Is Changing Ukraine, by Kerstin Zimmer:
[...] In contrast, labor migration to the countries of the European Union receives much more attention, thanks not only to its considerable extent but also to its distinct features and relative novelty. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry estimated several years ago that about 300,000 Ukrainians worked in Poland, 200,000 in Italy, up to 200,000 in the Czech Republic, 200,000 in Spain, and 150,000 in Portugal.
In all these countries, they have only limited opportunities to work legally, despite some recent legal changes, legalization campaigns, and intergovernmental agreements. [...]
Labor migration isn't just about visa violations, of course - it's an extremely complex issue, and the BW/TOL piece does deal with that.
But if you look at it from a very narrow - and slanted - perspective, it suddenly begins to appear as if zarobitchany are a more privileged class of travelers than mere tourists like Mishah. Which is an awful generalization, of course. And it would be wrong to generalize it even further by arguing that the law-abiding citizens who end up having their vacation plans screwed should blame their enterprising and not always honest expat compatriots for it.
Anyway, what's truly upsetting about it is that the silly visa regime prevents some of us from thinking of foreign travel as something natural (buy a ticket, book a hotel, pack and go ahead) - and it also fails to justify its existence by more or less failing to prevent illegal labor migration.
Though, the latter, perhaps, is only natural - no one would bother trying to squeeze through the borders to work as nannies and cleaning ladies if there were no demand.
It's horrible to think about it this way, but Kuchma's prostitution-in-Italy analogy, cited in the BW/TOL piece, seems to work at some level - even though he probably meant it literally:
[...] Several years ago Ukraine's then-president, Leonid Kuchma, referred to Ukrainian women working in Italy as prostitutes. [...]