The Chukotka area court has overturned the ruling on deportation of travellers Karl Bushby and Dimitry Kieffer, who were detained for violating border crossing rules. Judge Irina Kodes thereby granted the foreigners’ appeal, according to the ITAR-TASS news agency.
Bushby and Kieffer appealed the ruling by the Chukotka district court of April 14, on a 2,000-rouble fine and “administrative expulsion” which entails a five-year travel ban to Russia.
The foreigners were detained in the village of Uelen on April 1 after a perilous two-week journey across the sea ice bridge between Russia and Alaska. They had on them passports with Russian commercial visas, maps, a satellite navigation device, a video camera, warm clothes and equipment for travelling in the North, as well as a Colt Magnum pistol with ammunition.
Bushby and Kieffer insisted they had lost their bearings and that they planned to complete all the required border crossing procedures at the village of Provideniya.
The check carried out by borderguards and agents of the Federal Security Service, did not find any grounds for opening a criminal case, so the travelers were tried in court for an administrative offense.
On Friday, the higher court reiterated the district court’s statement that the foreigners are guilty of violating border crossing rules, but changed the original resolution as it saw no malicious intent in the travellers’ actions and decided that the initial penalty was too harsh and did not match the gravity of the deed.
In this connection, the court overturned the resolution on administrative expulsion.
The travellers will have to pay the fine and can return to Russia legally at a later time to make their dreams come true.
Bushby plans to finish his round-the-world hiking tour begun back in 1998, while Kieffer can go ahead with a biking tour from Alaska to Europe.