Monday, July 14, 2008

Trying to get my new travel passport is an ordeal that's been going on since March. I'm glad I need this passport only for our relatively visa-free travels to Turkey, that the Ukrainian state's torture isn't compounded by more torture at the hands of "Western" consulates.

Our bureaucrats work in a very schizophrenic way, the rules differ from one location to another, and everyone seems to take it for granted. There is one office where it takes weeks just to submit your paperwork, a true slaughterhouse, but there's also another one nearby where there are no lines and it takes about 20 minutes to get everything done. If only the first place had bothered to post more info about the second place in their lobby - because they are definitely getting more people than their colleagues at the other place. And, to make it all even more complex, I know someone who didn't have any problems at the first place and was surprised to hear my horror stories - but I ascribe it to some sort of random luck.

My most recent problems have to do with our local registration person, who seems to have forgotten to enter me into some citywide database when I got my new internal passport. Or perhaps that was an act of revenge - I'd never brought her any chocolates to thank her for doing her job (an explanation offered by a savvy neighbor).

After running around for half the day today, I've finally understood why I'm against making Russian a second state language: everything works terribly here anyway, and it's easier to teach a few million state employees to fill out forms in Ukrainian, rather than burdening our already messed-up system with more regulations and forms that the change would sure require.

On a different but somewhat related note, my today's cab driver was from Iran, has lived in Ukraine for the past six years, spoke very decent Russian, and when I mentioned the wonderful Persian poet Forugh Farrokhzad, who died at the age of 32, he mentioned Lesya Ukrainka - who didn't live too long, either - and his admiration for her. I was very, very pleased, because I adore Lesya, and it didn't matter to me at all that our conversation about her was in Russian.


  1. If you still don't get the passport in the next week, you may want to try bringing the chocolates per the savvy neighbor's advice. Nice post.

  2. My experience with Pechersky OVIR has always been close to perfect. Don't know why. Five years ago when I was getting a foreign passport there, I put my name on the list in the morning and then went about my business. I showed up before their lunch break only to find out I had just missed my number. But people in line who told me that said, "Don't worry. You'll go now." They let me in front of them and after me the place shut down for an hour.
    This year there was little hustle involved. Most times, there were no lines at all and then when I was already supposed to collect my new passport, the OVIR inspector said there was a problem: my previous passport hadn't been voided in the system. She gave me her cell phone number so I'd call and ask instead of coming and waiting. Two weeks later everything was fixed, I biked to the OVIR, showed up in a bike helmet, they asked me to wait 20 minutes as my passport was just being signed, I went for coffee, came back--no line--picked the passport and left. No chocolates exchanged hands.

  3. So you're from Ukraine? Do you live there now? Your english is exceptional.

  4. I'm sure new parliamentary elections in the fall will clear eeeeverything up...
    I'm very much hoping to go for the presidential elections in March as an observer, like I did in September. But these rumors of new VR elections, sheesh, I can't afford to keep flying out there like this!

  5. markian,

    I'm afraid it's pretty safe for you to move to ukraine - the mess is going to continue for decades. Unless a parlamentary republic system will be turned back to a presedential one.