Yesterday, Jeramie and I had a visit from the Peace Corps Security Officer, Sergey. Word on the street is that he’s a former KGB agent turned UN Police officer turned Peace Corps Security Officer. The guy’s kind of bad-ass and if you meet him in person, it’s not uncommon to be a little scared. He wasn’t visiting, however, on a bad note which made the visit much more pleasant.
Sergey visited Konotop because he wanted to meet with the local police officials to talk to them about Peace Corps and what kinds of things the volunteers do. Personally, I think this might be a little belated because Jeramie and I are currently the only remaining volunteers in a long line of volunteers in Konotop and we’ll be leaving at the end of the year. It’s still a good gesture. We were invited along for the meeting because our faces are pretty. And because then we could answer questions the local police might have for ourselves.
Anyway, what was a little weird, and embarrassed Sergey slightly was an old Soviet rule that was still in effect at the Konotop police station. Sergey explained to us while we moved from our first meeting place to another room in the building that foreigners are only allowed in certain parts of official government buildings. We couldn’t meet in the police chief’s office because it was off-limits to us. Sergey also went on to explain that there used to be more strict rules like foreigners being separated from officials with metal bars and being escorted by a guard while in the building. He was glad that we didn’t have that.
It wasn’t offensive that our meeting was moved, just curious. I’m glad Sergey took time to explain to us why it happened the way that it did. Oftentimes things like this happen and I don’t get adequate answers about why. He suspects because Konotop is so close to the Russian border, that they still try to keep that Soviet mentality because the Ukrainian laws are much more lax about foreigners.
I guess you learn new things everyday.