Ordinarily We’d Be Unhappy to See Russia Returning to Revoking Its Citizens’ Right to Travel, but…

During the communist era the United States often criticized the Soviet Union for violating its citizens’ right to travel to foreign countries. Now Russia is doing it again, but somehow I doubt there will be any criticism over it.

From the ITAR-TASS News Agency’s Former Russia national goalie barred from flight over alimony debt (7/12/09):

Former goalie of the Russian national Alexander Filimonov was barred on Sunday from a flight to Uzbekistan by a decision of bailiffs over his debts.

The administration of the Federal Bailiffs Service reported that a decision was taken against him on limiting his right to go abroad over alimony debts to the tune of 707,000 rubles.

The 35-year soccer players who arrived at the Domodedovo airport this morning was stopped by bailiffs and transport policemen at the gate for a flight to Uzbekistan (he plays now for the Lokomotiv Tashkent Club) and offered a decision to him.

According to chief of the Khimki district department of the service for the Moscow Region Galina Kozlova, action proceedings were instituted against him literally several days ago, since his wife complained that he had indebted at least 700,000 rubles since 2007.

“On learning that he is in Moscow, we sent him a telephone message. However, he failed to come at bailiffs” invitation,’ Kozlova said. “Preliminary calculations of the debt still continue: we have received now a copy of his contract with the football club and the sum of debts will be specified,’ she continued.

In Kozlova”s words, Filimonov as a debtor will not be able to fly abroad in the near future till he pays the complete sum of the debt. “If he wants to pay right at the airport, bailiffs have receipts, and money will be put on a deposit. Besides, an arrest can be put on his hand phone, air ticket or any other property he offers,’ Kozlova noted…

Bailiffs in the Moscow Region passed 727 decisions since the start of the year on restricting the right to exit outside Russia against 727 debtors ducking alimony payments…

Filimonov played in the Russian national in 1995 as well as in 1998-2002. Earlier, he also played at Spartak Moscow, Dynamo Kiev as well as for Cyprus squad Nea Salamina.

Apparently Filimonov’s debt is worth about $20,000 in US dollars. I’ve no idea why he hasn’t paid the money or if he’s behaved irresponsibly towards his children, but the United States also employs this tactic of seizing passports over (alleged) child support debts, and the policy has a lot of problems.

One of them is that the government believes (and officials’ public statements often reiterate) that everybody who travels abroad is doing so for pleasure, and this shouldn’t be allowed if they owe child support. This is beyond ludicrous–many Americans travel abroad for business, and I’ve received many letters from fathers in situations where they depended on foreign travel for their jobs and livelihoods. That seems to be the case with Filimonov, who was stopped from joining the Lokomotiv Tashkent Club.

To learn more about this issue, see my co-authored column Passport Rules Unfair to Child Support Debtors (San Antonio Express-News, 9/8/07).

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