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Double-crossed and running out of time! (6/12/05)

(CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE LIST OF DIARY ENTRIES) I can't believe it, or more worrying perhaps I can after a few month of battling with bureaucracy. The journey has reached an impasse yet again. But this time it is really crictical- my Kazakhstan visa expires on Monday and I have just one entry left on my Russian visa. There is a constant mire of laws, organistions, papers, and people to work through and the process had led me down a path of rollercoasting emotions. One day I am in despair, the next ready to run, then I am again stifled. Without one piece of paper the other is not possible, then there is a law that contradicts the first bit of paper and so on. The customs, vet department, border inspection on both sides of the border operate separately, and so do federal and provincial authorities. There is no law that relates to me and so it is open to interpretation of the authorities. If they see my journey for what it really is they can let me pass, but if they like to wrap themself in bureacracy then they can and i will never get through. After meetings with tens of officials and supporters I finally had a bundle of documents, including the permit that promised me entry to Russia with the horses. With my visa expiring in less than a week (December 12) it could not have come much later. Then yesterday after saying my goodbyes and paying a visit to the local musical college, I was preparing to leave back to the horses for a birthday crossing of the border (7th of December). Then I recieved a message from Russia. The provincial customs authority would not grant me access to Russia with the horses! They persist now that my permit stipulates I must travel through Russia with the horses by train or road transport!!!!! Despite the permit clearly outlining my status as a traveller travelling with horses from Kazakhstan to Hungary, they believe it does not grant me permission to 'ride' the horses! I can't tell you the frustration that came over me last night at this news. It seems that whatever you do these people just like to make life hard and search for ways to prevent me arriving in the country. Now my only line of appeal is Moscow. I have my fingers crossed that they will support a different interpretation of the document. It is totally illogical as Moscow clearly understood that I was asking for a permit as a horseback-traveller. The permit comes from the veterinary department which most importantly gives the all clear to animals from a disease-carrying point of view. These horses have been deemed healthy and granted access to Russia. Anyway at a loss of what to do. I could of course fly back to Almaty this week and prolong my kazak visa but the financial and time constraints are becoming unbearable. And now there will be very very little time to find homes for the horses. Hope all is well. Tim. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE LIST OF DIARY ENTRIES)