Image: Canadian Passport, way, way, way long ago...
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from the desk of Byron Christopher
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Hi All,
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The Russian Embassy in Ottawa had issued my visa. I was to be in the Soviet Union for a couple of weeks in June, visiting Leningrad, Moscow and Kyiv [Ukraine].
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I was working at the CBC and I dropped by the newsroom to get my mail and see if there were any phone messages. There was — and it was from the Russian Ambassador in Ottawa. Once I got to the airport, I returned his phone call. The Ambassador [who spoke perfect English] had some very bad news: Moscow had killed my visa!
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No reason was given. Duh. I felt it was because of the explosion two months earlier at the nuclear power plant at Chornobyl, just north of Kyiv. The blast killed two workers on the spot. Another 30 people perished over the following months from radiation poisoning.
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So, my visa was a worthless piece of paper — but I kept it as a souvenir. I came across it yesterday while going through some old papers. According to the Ambassador, it was the first time the Embassy in Ottawa had retracted a visa. Nice to know.
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I ended up staying in Finland, visiting old friends and shopping. [I’d worked at shipyards in Turku, Finland for most of ’72.]
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Here’s that Russian visa. Note my date of birth and the dates when the visa was supposed to be active.
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The visa indicates four cities:¬†Ottawa, Moscow, Kyiv and Leningrad. Just above is the line that indicates my line of work: ‘Journalist.’
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At the time, I was pissed off … but looking back, I realize it was a good move because I planned to sneak up to Chornobyl to file some news reports. I recall co-worker Anna Maria Tremonti pleading with me not to do that. Thank you Kiddo.
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I have no hard feelings, but I’m half hoping the bozo in Moscow who killed my visa ended up joining a tank crew and was sent to Ukraine.
Long story short, that’s why I still have most of my hair.
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Later,
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Byron
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