On eve of Valentine’s Day, two Russian newlyweds wait to be reunited

(Reuters) — They planned to marry in Russia, ended up tying the knot in Georgia — but will still find themselves in separate countries on Valentine’s Day.

Alexander and Varvara — two Russians who asked not to be identified by their full names — were forced to come up with a new wedding plan after President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilisation of 300,000 men last September to boost Russia’s flagging military effort in Ukraine.

Alexander, who was travelling for work in Estonia at the time, decided not to return to Russia after the authorities sent him a call-up notice.

«We had a wedding booked in Kronstadt (just outside St Petersburg) in November but I didn’t show up for my own wedding,» he said.

The couple then looked into the possibility of getting married in Estonia, where Alexander was born and has permanent resident status, but Varvara was unable to get a visa.

Undaunted, they travelled separately last month to the Georgian capital Tbilisi, where they were able to get married in the presence of Sasha — Varvara’s daughter from a previous marriage — and two witnesses they had never met before.

The whole thing took just 24 hours. «It’s like Las Vegas here,» Alexander joked. «You can do it all in a day.»

Then they had to go their separate ways again. Varvara went back to St Petersburg, where she works in the film business. Alexander, a furniture maker, returned to the Estonian capital Tallinn where, to save money, he has been sleeping in the workshop where he is working.

The plan now is for Varvara and Sasha to apply for humanitarian visas to join Alexander in Estonia. But that too will take time, Varvara said, as they need to sort out a host of issues involving documents, work and accommodation.

«We don’t think we’ll be able to meet again before summer,» she said on a video call.


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