An adventurer’s attempt to walk from the tip of South America to his home in Britain hung in the balance on Friday after a court in Russia ordered his deportation for failing to get a stamp in his passport.
Former paratrooper Karl Bushby was detained in the freezing wastes of Russia’s Far Eastern Chukotka region on April 1 after the latest leg of his journey took him across the frozen Bering Strait from Alaska.
Anyone deported from Russia is usually barred from returning for five years — a bitter blow for Bushby, who after seven years of walking is about halfway through his 36,000 mile trek.
The court in the settlement of Lavrentiya fined Bushby and Dimitri Kieffer, an American who helped him cross the treacherous ice bridge, $72 and ordered both to be deported, Bushby’s support team in Britain said.
That's it, unless there is billionaire intervention
“That is the end as far as we are concerned — he can’t hang around for years on the off-chance that they may let him in again,” Keith Bushby, his father, told Reuters by telephone.
“You can fight against ice and swamps and jungles and gorillas and God knows what else, as Karl has done, but for someone to say: 'No we won’t give him a (passport) stamp' is disappointing.”
Keith Bushby said he hoped Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Britain’s Chelsea soccer club — who also happens to be governor of Chukotka — would intervene.
Bushby set off from the tip of South America in 1998 and planned to return to Britain — via Russia — in 2009. The object of the trip is to follow an unbroken route on foot.
From Chukotka, the only way home is through Russian territory. If this is off limits to him, there is no other way he can reach his destination while sticking to the rules he has set himself.
“You can’t just take plane rides around, so basically it is the end of the expedition as such,” said Bushby’s father.
Bushby, 37, has been leading news bulletins on Russian television, where his exploits have been held up as an example of British courage and eccentricity.
But Bushby and Kieffer faced a chilly reception from border guards when, after braving polar bears and treacherous sea ice in the Bering Strait, they turned up in Chukotka.
The men, who speak little Russian, had valid visas but they had failed to get their passports stamped at a border post on entering Russian territory.
Possibly barred from the country for five years?
Russian media said they had planned to find a border post, but their passage across the shifting ice in the Bering Strait took them off course.
Russia’s border guards service said it was up to the courts how long Bushby would be barred from Russia.
“In principle, if a deportation has taken place then the person is barred from the country for five years. But the court could say the time should be less, it could say more,” a border guards spokeswoman said.