Hitchin pensioner who was locked in 12-month battle with Russian immigration services reigns victorious

John Gordon

John Gordon - Credit: Archant

A pensioner who was locked in a 12-month battle with the Russian immigration services says his ordeal is over after gain permission to stay in the country he has lived in for the past 20 years.

John Gordon, who hails from Hitchin but spends most of his time operating language schools in the former Soviet state, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the start of 2013.

After having surgery, the 78-year-old was receiving radiotherapy treatment at a Russian hospital when his visa expired in August last year.

The OVIR – Russian president Vladimir Putin’s immigration service – tried to remove him while he was recovering in hospital but were prevented by doctors.

But once he returned to his Russian home in September he was taken from his house by two policemen and brought before a court where a judge ordered his deportation.

For the next 10 months Dr Gordon, who has lived in Russia since 1994, had to fight his deportation. He knew that if he left the country he would never win an appeal from abroad, and so took his case to successively higher courts – while all the time undergoing radiotherapy treatment.

Every appeal was rejected until he finally achieved success at the Moscow Federal Court, which overturned the order in July.

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Dr Gordon returned to his home in Hitchin shortly afterwards to apply for a visa to return to Russia in September.

Then, a few days before his flight, he received a call from the Russian Embassy in London asking him to come in for an interview.

Fearing the worst, Dr Gordon cancelled his flight and attended the meeting where he discovered that the Russian immigration services had supplied the embassy with information relating to his visa problems.

He said: “They were, of course, furious that their deportation order had been overturned by the Moscow Federal Court and were doing everything to prevent me getting back into the country.

“Once I explained my side of the story they issued me with a visa and sent me on my way. I flew back to Samara on September 18 and am just glad this whole ordeal is over.”

Dr Gordon now plans to apply for a residency permit which would last for five years, instead of his current one-year visa.