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UPDATE - Russian cruisers in trouble again

Deported from Canada last June, the family had been living in Bermuda but was told to leave in January

Deported from Canada last June, the family had been living in Bermuda but was told to leave in January

Winter storms in the North Atlantic and Bermuda’s Immigration Department helped complicate a Russian family’s return to Canada in January.

Vitaly Bondarenko, his wife, Marina, and their young sons Ivan and Vasily had been living in Bermuda, aboard their 36-foot sailboat, Viajero, since being deported from Canada last June after their visas expired. In December the family was awarded a one-year temporary residency permit to return to Canada, but were told to leave Bermuda by Jan. 10.

“I am very opposed to [the Bondarenkos] sailing to Canada at this time of year,” says Lee Cohen, the family’s attorney, in an e-mail. (The North Atlantic Oscillation, a complex fluctuation in atmospheric pressures, helps generate more and stronger storms in the North Atlantic between November and April.)

As of early January the family was considering flying to Canada, spending the winter in the Caribbean, or seeking an extension from the Bermudian government. However, Marina Bondarenko apparently is afraid to fly, and Cohen says the family is reluctant to leave their boat in Bermuda.

“I believe that leaving the boat behind is proving to be a more profound problem for the Bondarenko family than any of us could have previously predicted,” he says. “It is, after all, the Bondarenkos’ home. It has been their only home for 15 years. It is the only thing of substance that they own. It is hard to be critical of this family for so jealously guarding their home.”

The Bondarenkos left Russia in 1991 to sail around the world. In 2003 Vitaly Bondarenko was arrested while refueling on Block Island, R.I., for entering the United States without valid passports or visas. He spent four months in the Bristol County House of Corrections in North Dartmouth, Mass., while Marina Bondarenko was allowed to remain in Newport, R.I., to care for the children.

In July 2004 the family sailed to Nova Scotia, where Vitaly Bondarenko began working at a foundry, and Ivan and Vasily were enrolled in school. The family was told to leave Canada five months later but was allowed to apply for new visas from outside the country. However, Canadian officials, concerned about the family sailing the North Atlantic in winter, allowed the Bondarenkos to stay until June 30, 2005. (To read more about the Bondarenkos, see the February 2004 and April 2005 issues of Soundings, or search the archives at Keyword: Bondarenko.)