Russian Visa Question: Georgian Military Highway
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Jan 23, 2013 7:41 AM Last Post By: kgh
Jan 21, 2013 4:42 AM
Russian Visa Question: Georgian Military HighwayHi,
My Russian visa application is asking me for a point of entry. I plan to enter overland from Georgia on the military highway. The problem is I leave in 10 days and I just found out that if I plan to visit North Ossetia ( where the border crossing is ) I will need to wait two weeks as they need to do extra checks.
So my question: If I lie and put Moscow as my point of entry will it be a problem entering elsewhere? I know the visa itself does not have a point of entry on it but can the guards see my application on a computer or something and refuse me entry as I am not entering where I said I would?
Jan 21, 2013 2:52 PM
1I traveled in North Ossetia in 2011, and at that time there were no special requirements for visiting. It was treated as just another part of Russia.
It's possible things have changed, but you might want to double-check the need for special permission.
I've never been asked to identify a border crossing as part of a Russia visa application, so I don't know what the process is for that. But, yes, the border guards do get to look over your details on their computer. Because of recent Georgian-Russian history there is a risk that they may be extra careful and/or bureaucratic at that particular crossing.
Jan 22, 2013 5:42 AM
The application form says 'from' and 'where' as in leaving from and entering where. I just put London and Moscow and did not mention Ossetia. Shall see what happens,I'm probably worried about nothing.
Mind sharing your thoughts on the region? Did you go to Vladikavkaz? My plan is to travel to Chechnya from Ossetia by train via Ingushetia. Did you visit any of these places?
Jan 22, 2013 6:51 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure what they mean here. They may be asking what contry you will be coming from and what country you will be departing to.
On my trip, I visited Vladikavkaz and took marshrutkas through Nazram and on to Grozny and then a train on to Astrakhan.
Vladikavkaz is a pleasant provincial Russian city, with a scenic old mosque. I found their WWII memorial complex "Monument to Glory" unexpectedly interesting. It hosts a recently erected bust of Stalin, and a touching moument to the Beslan tragedy, amidst much else.
Grozny is not what I expected. It has lots of sparkling new construction and no visible damage is left from the Chechen wars. With a predominantly Muslim population it feels very different from most of European Russia. There is a lot of security, but I didn't find them intrusive. People seemed generally very welcoming.
It's an area that's worth visiting. But be careful! Things are much better than they were, but this is still a troubled region.
Jan 23, 2013 2:44 AM
4Great to hear from someone who has made the journey along the North Caucasus that I plan to do. I feel somewhat less worried about the places I will pass through now.
Can I ask you a couple more questions:
Did your marshrutka go direct from V'kavkaz to Grozny or did you need to change in Nazran?
Ingushetia seems pretty unstable,but I'd like to look around Nazran for a few hours. Would you advise against that idea?
Were there problems at road blocks on the highway to Grozny,i.e shaking you down for being foreign?
I'd like to see the school in Beslan. Did you visit?
Finally any other advice for the trip? I have heavy FSU experience in Central Asia,Belarus,Russia etc. but apart from Abkhazia last year never been to the Caucus region. Any particular things I need to watch out for?
Big thanks kgh,knowing you pulled it off has given me re-assurance that if I play it sensible then all should be ok.
Jan 23, 2013 7:41 AM
5Sure, here are a few more details:
I took a marshrutka from Vladikavkaz bus station #2. That's the small secondary bus station on Pushkinskaya. That took me to the main Nazran bus station. But it turns out that the marshrutkas for Grozny don't leave from the main Nazran bus station, they leave from a small bus stop about 1km South along the main road, where you should see 2 or 3 minibuses sitting in a parking lot to the west of the road.
I didn't encounter any security concerns in Vladikavkaz, Nazran, or Grozny. As I'm sure you know, security impressions can be very misleading - everything looks great until things suddenly go wrong. But my impression was that the city centers and the main roads were all well patrolled and reasonably safe. At Nazran I had to stop and ask for directions several times and people were very helpful when they realized I was a lost tourist with only a few words of Russian.
I saw various security checkpoints along the way. But we weren't stopped at any of them.
At Grozny train station the police seemed slightly surprised to see a foreigner from exotic Scotland. But it was a case of nods and smiles, not a shakedown.
I didn't make it out to Beslan, unfortunately.
You mileage may vary - I know other travelers have sometimes had problems. I was traveling with a certain amount of caution, but my experience was pretty good. If you've traveled in Abkhazia and Belarus you should be well prepared.
You probably know that the Georgia-Russia border crossing north of Kazbegi has only opened to foreigners in the last year or so. I've seen a couple of reports on ThornTree of people making it through heading South, but I haven't yet read a report of someone going the other way. I hope you will post your experience after your trip!
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