Deported refugee still keen to return

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Celebrated but deported refugee Madina Salamova, better known as Maria Amelie, remains in Moscow but is making progress in her efforts to legally return to Norway. Salamova was sent back to Russia following one of the most high-profile deportation cases ever.

Madina Salamova, aka Maria Amelie, and her boyfriend Eivind Trædal, shown here being interviewed on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after her release from custody last month, remain in Moscow as they try to obtain the papers necessary for Amelie to return to Norway. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

Now Salamova, who came to Norway as a teenager and stayed on illegally after her family’s application for asylum was rejeccted, has been issued a Russian passport. News bureau NTB reported that now she needs a stamp with residence permission in the new passport.

Then, according to regulations, she can apply for a higher grade of passport that will enable her to leave Russia. Once that’s in hand, she intends to apply for work permission back in Norway at the Norwegian Embassy in Moscow.

Salamova already has a job waiting for her back in Norway, and wants to return because she feels far more Norwegian than Russian. Her family fled the Caucasus around 10 years ago and has eluded authorities since.

Salamova went public with her story last year when she wrote the book Ulovlig norsk (Illegally Norwegian) under the pseudonym Maria Amelie. The book turned the spotlight on the situation for undocumented workers in Norway, and set off a storm of public sympathy and demonstrations in support of her desire to obtain legal residence status.

She was nonetheless put on a plane to Moscow last month, accompanied by her boyfriend Eivind Trædal, who will remain with her in Russia for as long as his visa allows. They are living at a secret, private address in Moscow while they tackle the bureaucratic hurdles involved in reclaiming first legal Russian residence and then moving back to Norway on a work permit.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian cultural council (Kluturrådet) in charge of purchasing for the state library system has bought Amelie’s book for distribution to all of Norway’s libraries. Her book was included among 15 new titles chosen from books published in 2010.

Amelie also has won support from fellow writers in Iceland, where backers have said they would try to arrange Icelandic residence for her, which would allow her to travel back to Norway without a visa.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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