That Brazil, not the other Brazil. Or perhaps in a Kafka novel. But mostly I just want to talk about it.
As many of you may or may not know, I'm a Russian-born US citizen. I have lived in the US for 24 years and have been to Canada, Egypt, Israel, France, and Britain, and have never been back to my home. I want to go next year. My grandmother who basically raised me when I was a child is 88, just broke her hip, and the doctors think she has been having mini-strokes. My parents don't want to discuss this aspect, but I know there's not much time. Also, my city of birth (St. Petersburg) is in biased opinion the most beautiful city in the world and I would like to see it again as an adult.
So, go through the absurd process of getting a visa, buy a two thousand dollar plane ticket, pack a camera and gifts for grandma, and roll on over, right? Not so fast!
If a Russian citizen obtains citizenship in another country, Russia does not fully recognize that. The US says I'm a US citizen (America! Fuck yeah!). Putin, however, says I'm a dual citizen of US and Russia. But really, I'm a Russian citizen and Putin would prefer it if I moved back and had lots of babies. My US passport says "Country of origin: Russia" so they know. The catch here is that I cannot get a Russian visa if my passport says that. I have to travel in and out on a Russian passport. Or formally renounce my Russian citizenship. The first step of that is getting a Russian passport, so not even much point. Especially since the next 3 steps after that require travel to Russia.
I've almost figured out how to get a Russian passport. They want my address and proof of my address on February 6th, 1992. From what I understand, that's the date everything was signed and fully finalized such that Soviet citizens became citizens of the Russian Federation if that's where they lived. Ok, I didn't live in Russia then. This actually does not preclude me having an address there. I recently found out there was a room in a communal apartment in my and my mom's name that some neighbors sold out from under us and is now worth hundreds of thousands. SHEESH. I might still be in my grandma's apartment. I don't even know. My mom's trying to help me but then she just emailed me a dictionary of Russian swear words. At least my birth certificate hasn't been lost.
And since I changed my name after I got married, they want a court order. I don't have a court order, I just have my marriage license. It says they need a court order. I'll have to ask. It may be worth it to hire a lawyer just to get it all sorted out.
It's like they make it difficult to punish us all for defecting. There's plenty of people who have done this and travel back and forth, so it's not impossible, but it just feels utterly surreal as many such things do.
You can also apparently get an emergency visa to visit Russia if you have to go NOW, but then you can't leave until you get a Russian passport. Seriously, Putin? Seriously?