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A roaring security officer
Moscow (Russia), March 26th 2004
We are on the airport of Vladivostok and are waiting for the nine hours lasting domestic flight to Moscow. Before we booked the flight, we seriously considered if we should take the plane. Because of the bad image of Aeroflot it would have probably been better to take the train. However, we did spent enough hours in the train last weeks during our Trans Siberian train adventure. To reduce the risk we have ensured that the flight we are going to take is with an Airbus instead of a Russian made Ilyushin or Tupolev.

The airport of Vladivostok is small and old. You still have to walk over the platform to embark the plane. The gate in which we wait consists of two parts, and inside part and an outside part. People use the outside part, which is comparable with a cage of the zoo, to smoke a cigarette or make some pictures of the planes. It is not wise to stay in the cage to enjoy the weather. It is still wintertime in Siberia.

At the moment that the passengers have the feeling that the boarding is close by, they move in large numbers from the inside part to the outside cage in where the fence is located that we have to pass to embark the plane. Also we move to the cage. Many people kill the time by making pictures of planes or smoke their last cigarette before the flight. I am also taking my photo camera to make a nice shot.

Less than two seconds after I made the picture, I hear a heavy Russian voice yelling behind me. At least, I think it is Russian. Initially, I do not react because I do not have the impression that the voice is yelling to me. The man, who seems to be a security officer, comes up to me and I have a strong feeling that he is not amused. In undoubtedly fluent Russian he tries to make me something clear. I have however no idea what he wants to tell me. My presumption is that it has something to do with the picture I just made, because his yell followed immediately after the exposure.

This presumption is confirmed as soon as he points to a small sign which is mounted above the door, which forms the connection between the inside part of the gate and the cage in which I stand. The sign shows a photo camera with a red line through it. The sign is mounted above the cage side of the door which makes it impossible to see it if you walk from the inside part of the gate to the outside part (where the planes are visible). But of course, the security officer is not sensitive for this argument, assuming in the first place that he understands my point. Moreover, many of the other passengers are still making pictures of the airplanes while I have to justify myself.

The fence of the cage opens and the passengers start walking towards the plane. This is the moment I start becoming nervous. The security officer tries to explain me that I must walk along with him, undoubtedly to a dilapidated office. I know one thing for certain; if I comply with his request I end up paying a bribe to him and will furthermore miss the plane. I look as silly as possible to him and start pointing to the plane with a frightening expression in my face of missing my plane. I refuse o walk with him. The strategy works at the end. A couple of minutes later he stops his attempt and let me walk to the plane. I am ready for takeoff.

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