The North Caucasian Federal District

Russia's Soft Underbelly

Text Ziv Reinstein Photographs by Eddie Gerald

"Get all the men off the bus and bring a passport with them" , Dennis, our Russian interpreter, declared at the military checkpoint at the entrance to Kabardino-Balkaria - one of the southern republics of Russia. Unpleasant feelings of separation between men and women came to my mind, but when a soldier with a speckled blue uniform and a serious face tells you to do so, you're not trying to argue.

 

In the booth downstairs we stood in one long column, each holding his passport. We were warned in the country that there would be roadblocks and surprise military reviews, but already on day one? We went to the checkpoint and one other soldier began to speak Russian firmly. We didn't understand what he wanted. We submitted the passport for review, but it didn't help - he continued to thunder and scream in Russian. One of us went to call Dennis, who he sensed. "He just wants you to give him a coin from Israel as a souvenir," Dennis said with a half smile. One of us took out a half shekel coin and handed it to the soldier. He smiled slightly, and we got back on the bus, half joking, half confused.

Photo essay is part of a video coverage for Walla Communications (Israeli Web portal) with the help of Drachim Travel agency.

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