Residents of Chukotka fled to Alaska to avoid being sent to Ukraine
Two residents of Chukotka swam across the sea by boat in October last year to avoid being mobilized for the war in Ukraine. They reached Alaska and sought refuge, writes “Now”, referring to the BBC.
Only now are the details of the escape of 52-year-old Sergey Nechaev and 45-year-old Maxim Teunaut becoming clear. They were friends and lived in the village of Egvekinot in Chukotka.
On October 5, their fishing boat docked at the Inuit village of Gambel on St. Lawrence Island. The island is American, but it is closer to Chukotka than to Alaska.
Egwekinot, from where the two set out, is situated on the shore of a bay in the Bering Sea, but is not the easternmost point of the peninsula. Therefore, Nechaev and Teunaut sail along the Chukchi coast for days with their phones turned off: they were afraid that they would be noticed by the border guards. They spent the night on the shore. When they finally decide to cross the Bering Sea, the fugitives get caught in a storm and have to return to the Russian coast.
On the second attempt to cross the sea, the storm started again, but the men still decided to continue to America. Maxim Teunaut is an experienced fisherman. Thanks to his skills, they survived, Nechaev said later in an interview.
American authorities alerted the Coast Guard to their arrival, and they escorted the illegal Russians out of the settlement. From St. Lawrence Island, they were airlifted to the mainland and spent the next three months in an immigration detention center in Tacoma, Washington, on the US west coast. There they were fed only rice and beans – complained the Russians in an interview with The Economist. But in the prison library they found books in Russian, mostly classic works from the 19th century.