“There’s a Finnish spy!”, with a smile welcomes my friend in Yakutsk.
It’s a joke — but already very worn out. However, some have expressed such an assumption seriously. Many people in modern Russia do not see much difference between a foreign journalist and a spy.
“Jussi, you’re not a spy?” asked my friend the official. One of our guests told me that he had seen in the sky RC plane and wondered if he, and not spies. “This type everywhere all the sniffing?” — I heard mutterings of an elderly woman.
I spy is so-so. I still don’t know what is in a protected area, located a hundred meters from our house. I don’t know about missile systems. Yes, and is unlikely to be the spy took his wife and children — although it is a great idea in order to throw others off.
In Russia, all they see deception: there are lies, whose purpose — to hide real motives. It is better to believe in conspiracy theories than to be a naive simpleton.
I completely confused his incredulous interlocutor when he said that writing my book about Siberia financed by the Kone Foundation. What secret interest in Yakutia has a Fund founded by the owners of the company for the production of elevators?
Suspicion of Russian justifies their history: in this country, people often hang noodles on the ears. Distrust generates in society a vicious circle: why don’t I act meanly, if all others must do the same?
Here’s a good example of the atmosphere of local life: two regional policy, in which I was interviewed, with fear asked me if I was an agent — to be precise, has enlisted me in the security service, the FSB.
Trip, perfect me in April in the Anabar ulus in the North of Yakutia, has caused the greatest amount of suspicion.
The head of the ulus was quite unusual before my trip. I noticed it at one of the events and asked him if he was Mr. Semenov.
“No,” he replied. And… I ran. A man standing next to me confirmed that it was Semenov.
Two days later I met Semenov in another event, and he vaguely invited me to the district.
“We’ll take You to the nomad camp of reindeer herders, he said. — I’ll call you next week.”
Call Semenova and not followed. I still went to the Anabar ulus. But there is a first Deputy Semenova demanded to name the reason for the trip, and then the clerk recorded all my data in a thick book.
Later came the guards, in the company where I spent the next four hours, although permission to visit ulus was in order. They wanted to find out all my contacts in the region, asked the address of my parents and wanted to call the woman from whom we rented accommodation.
The next day I participated in a seminar on environmental protection which was held by the Rosneft company, involved in oil production in the coastal zone. I asked the representative of Rosneft if he could tell about the basic principles of petroleum exploration.
“You, sir,” he replied. And wondered how I ever got here.
Rosneft has sponsored the holiday of reindeer breeders, which took place at the same time in the nearby tundra. The presence of foreign journalists were not welcome. Local authorities have hindered my attempts to get to the festival and to meet with herders. Through his subordinates Semenov reported that near the village of herders camp no. One friendly man promised to take me to camp, but then disappeared and switched off the phone.
Then I took a taxi and went to the Northern village, which is located even North of the Norwegian North Cape. The sun was shining, I was in a great mood and circling around the village. I accidentally stumbled upon herders, who promised to take me on a snowmobile at the camp of reindeer herders in the tundra, which was two hours away.
I returned in a taxi to take warm clothes, but the driver started the engine and drove me straight to the yard of the police station. The officer checked my documents and went to the herders.
After talking with them for a while, he told me that my trip into the tundra will not take place, as all the sledges standing in the yard, suddenly broke. The herders sat in the corridor, their heads bowed. I asked, forbade them to go. They said, “Yes.”
The head of the village said I have to leave now, even though I had special permission. According to him, the security service, the FSB instructed not to let me in the tundra, because, according to rumors, I photographed in a previous village of the oil tank.
In the administrative centre of Anabarskiy ulus once again, I was greeted coldly the head of the ulus.
“Get out of here!” he said to me, but my permit has not yet ended.
In disbelief I went to the plane. Have I become the first person deported from Siberia?