Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

How to Beat FSB in 24 Hours

with 4 comments

There is a lot of pessimists In Russia and abroad who say that our country is so badly lost, so hopeless that you can’t really change anything from below. I consider it just as wrong as the opposite extreme—bullish optimists who see no problems in Russia and believe that everything will be fine without our involvement. In fact, we have a lot of very serious and difficult problems and the powers that be are not going to resolve them (this is what my blog is about), but we are not helpless too. Even in an authoritarian and corrupt state like Russia we can change things. Some examples of these victories you can find in my blog. Here is a new one, which shows that bloggers in Russia are becoming an increasingly powerful community.

Here is an approximate chronicle of my struggle with FSB over my passport:

Wednesday, 12 PM: I visit my local FMS (Federal Migration Service) department to get my passport after almost two-month wait. Instead, I am given a formal notice that my application is postponed for unknown term because FSB is refusing to give their approval.

Wednesday, 4 PM: I file a complaint to the Prosecutor. They say, the investigation will take a month. But I have to go to the USA in 10 days.

Thursday, 11 AM: I visit the FMS department again, their officers say that I’ll have to wait at least a few months. They know that it is against the law (which only gives them one month to issue a passport), but they wouldn’t argue with FSB.

Thursday, 7 PM: I describe the situation on my blog and on Twitter. The post (in Russian) receives 100+ comments and is reposted by more than 60 bloggers.

Thursday, 7:40 PM: The post is first republished by the media, an online news Website Kasparov.ru.

Thursday, 9:30 PM: Echo Moskvy radio reports on the matter.

Friday, morning: Head of Russian FMS Konstantin Romodanovsky orders that the problem is settled immediately.

Friday, 3 PM: I am invited to the local FMS department and told that FSB gave all necessary permissions.

Friday, 5 PM: I receive the passport.

Thanks to the bloggers’ active support, we managed to defeat the seemingly undefeatable FSB machine—in this concrete case. Instead of silently and patiently waiting for months, we managed to solve the problem in less than 24 hours.

Of course, not every problem may be solved like this. In fact, I was lucky both because my post caused such an outcry (if I weren’t an activist, few would care) and because Gen. Romodanovsky decided that his agency shouldn’t be responsible for FSB breaking the law. However, the very fact that the civil society can make the powerful FSB reverse their decisions says that Russia is far from being hopeless.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

January 22, 2010 at 23:13

4 Responses

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  1. Molodets!!


    January 23, 2010 at 01:50

  2. What you say is really true, Oleg. Russians can change their destiny if they want, and could become of the the great nations of the world.

    The real tragedy is that your story won’t be widely reported, so Russians won’t get the chance to learn what is possible.

    Your story is a very American one, a young man rising quickly from an ordinary background to high worldwide prominence, getting an award from a Hollywood movie star and a column in a world-famous paper. If you can do it, other Russians can do it.

    But they need two things. First, to know that it is possible, and second to be willing to risk everything for freedom and change. The first is systematically denied and Russians have yet to show that, were it not, they would embrace the second. But we too believe it is possible, and that is why we point our finger at Russians who sit quietly and demand that they rise and defend their country’s future.

    It’s important to understand that this is important not only for the well being of Russia but for that of the whole world.


    January 25, 2010 at 06:31

  3. Officer Dymovsky did not fare as well as you:


    Instead of getting better, his situation is getting much worse.


    January 25, 2010 at 18:55

  4. […] shot. Since then, Kozlovsky has started Twittering in English, defeated a neo-Soviet KGB effort to withdraw his passport to block his foreign relations, and made several more visits to the U.S. for further meetings with […]

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