This is the story of sifting through the maze of what it takes to get a permanent visa in Russia. I must admit that the process of finally receiving this document is challenging which requires effort and tenacity. Much of which is boring and just a lot of paperwork. But in the midst of all of it, a bit of humor comes in and changes everything. Thus the short but amusing tale of what it takes to get a urinalysis done in Russia. First let’s back up and look what it takes to get this done in the States. My one and only experience in the States with this was going to this nondescript building in a not so desirable part of town. Just being in this place, one feels like a criminal. It’s then the interrogation begins, in this cold environment in which you and the interrogator are having this conversation which goes something like this, “have any you used any recreational drugs in the last 6 months”? Hmmm, now I don’t do drugs but asking this question to a, “drug user“? What’s running through my mind is, “Oh, sure I use drugs all the time”. “What a stupid question”, and it proceeds from there. Then comes the pat down, “I’m not kidding” it’s explained that drug users will get a friend who doesn’t use drugs (yeah, right) to fill a baggie with urine for them (say what?) and they will tape this somewhere to their body (oh my gosh). What am I doing here? The only time I didn’t feel violated was when, well I think you know. Trust me leaving this building was not done in a sluggish manner.
So this lead me to share the process of how it’s done in Russia. First interestingly enough we traveled down this road to it’s end finding this nondescript building. Coming up to the building we walked through a guard house, though walking around was an option. The big heavy guard with a dirty t-shirt waved us through, “thank goodness”. After a bit of searching for the right door, we stepped into a room with three nurses. One filled out a form after taking my passport, the next reviewed it, the third put some kind of a sticker on it (she gets on the phone). Then it was off to pay for the whole affair and then to another office, this time with two nurses. They looked at the paperwork added a couple of stamps (and one of the nurse gets on the phone) and off to the urinalysis, so no pat down, no interrogation, I’m just handed a plastic cup and the nurse points to a room. Done with my business I head back with my proud little cup thinking they will test this and find absolutely nothing. With a smile on my face I hand her my cup and step back out of the room. To my surprise she holds it up to the light, looks at it, then proceeds to dump in a pail with all those who came before me. Honestly I was a bit shocked, but I noticed one of the nurses on the phone. The hard part was over but not done. Then we continued through the maze of halls to where the head doctor’s office, his nurse looks at the paperwork, stamps it again we walk it into his office (he’s on his phone) without looking he signs it and we are free to go. So a bit stumped we left the building and headed home. So what happened? What kind of drug test was this? Well we came to conclude that any drug user would have gotten lost first of all. Second that phone thing, we figured it out at each step of the process they where conversing with those at the next step asking each other, “do you think this guy is a drug user”? Conclusion: if you are drug user in the states they will catch you. In Russia you just have to make it to the end. If you do then it’s a pretty good guess you don’t use drugs.