Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
“How do you think they found the number to call your apartment?”
I felt queasy. I had just gotten my little reminder from the FSB that their beady eye was
watching me. I didn't want to be paranoid. But a friend who worked for the U.S. Embassy
in Moscow said many Western journalists and diplomats get just such a nudge. A fellow
American radio reporter in Moscow described how after she arrived in Russia and received
her press credential, she returned to her apartment—which she had locked and closed up
in the morning—and found her bedroom light on, her computer turned on, and her e-mail
Luke Harding, a correspondent with the Guardian , was hounded more than any other
Western journalist, even briefly expelled from the country. He described a break-in in his
apartment that left the window to his son's room open:
Nothing had been stolen; nothing damaged. The intruders' apparent aim had been
merely to demonstrate that they had been there, and presumably to show that they
could come back. The dark symbolism of the open window in the child's bedroom
was not hard to decipher: take care, or your kids might just fall out. The men—I as-
sume it was men—had vanished like ghosts.
Alas, all the work of “friends.”
O N SEVERAL reporting assignments, Sergei and I were obviously trailed by a car. In the
volatile region of Dagestan—where the FSB often targets and rounds up people they sus-
pect of having ties to radical groups—we were almost happy to be followed. Better to be
fully transparent about who we are and what we're doing if it reduces the risk of the au-
thorities mistaking our identity and doing something stupid.
In Minsk, Belarus, Rose was with me when we spotted a thuggish-looking
dude—dressed in black, hair slicked back—watching us at a café, then trailing us on the
sidewalks, following us into our hotel, even joining us on the elevator. Rose, never hesitant
to push buttons, waved good night down the hall to the man as we entered our room to turn
These memories weigh on my mind as our train pulls into the station in Izhevsk. At
the ticket window, as we're paying for our next two legs, to Perm and then Ekaterinburg,
I catch the eye of a young man at the adjacent window. He is acting as though he's in a
dialogue with the agent, but is paying way too much attention to the details we're provid-
ing about our travel plans. The young man has a shaved head and is wearing a red, blue,
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