Obama's adventures in Russia

Obama was on his way to Kiev to meet Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko when officals in the central Russian city seized his passport. Another senator with Obama also had his documents taken and officials demanded to inspect their U.S. military aircraft.
At one point, Obama recalls, they were locked in a lounge while both sides figured out what to do. The Russian officials did not believe that their plane was U.S. military and said that Obama did not have permission to make an international flight from Perm.

But the President-elect says that it was not a big deal. "It wasn't the Gulag," he said.

As part of the Open Skies agreement which allows military flights to be made over Russia, international flights can only be made from three cities in Russia. Perm is not included in that group.

"Documentation of permission had not trickled down to Perm," Obama said.

Eventually they were allowed to leave after help from the region's Governor.
Obama described the entire incident in his last book, `The Audacity of Hope'.

Local journalist Dmitry Shayko remembers the episode well. He reproduced the incident as part of a cartoon.

"I've shown Obama as a victim," he said. "Of course I've exaggerated the incident for the cartoon genre. Here you can see Obama taking a nap in the departure lounge, and here are Russia's FSB officials interrogating him. Perhaps, if they'd known he'd become the next U.S. President, they might have treated him with more respect."

Dmitry suggests Obama should change the name of his book from `The Audacity of Hope' to `The Audacity of Russia's airport staff'.

Russia did express regret over the incident at the time, blaming it on a bureaucratic mix-up.

Shayko said: "The airport security service made up some formal excuses, like they didn't recognise what kind of plane it was or where it belonged, but how can anyone not recognise it when the plane had huge letters on it saying 'U.S. Air Force'?"

Now Russians can read Obama's account of the story as his latest book has been translated.

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