We have now reached a state of complete impasse.
On Monday Rowena emailed the new certificate of transit application with change of journey plan and authorised by Kiev, and we had it printed out in the Hungarian customs vet service office. We loaded up the horses and crossed the bridge to Ukraine customs for the third time. But it was not to be third time lucky. The veterinary officer told us the photocopied certificate was not valid because it had been issued in Kazakhstan not Ukraine. This was although it was the exact copy of the one we presented last week that we were told was acceptable apart from the journey plan (which we have now corrected). In vain did we tell him that he needed to phone the Kiev office and follow up the case reference number as was required. We were forced to return to the Hungarian side with our tails between our legs.
The following day we had another go. This time, miracle of miracles, there was absolutely no trouble with the certificate. 'Super' cried the veterinary official as he loudly banged official stamps all over my original rejected veterinary certificate. This was no doubt due to the efforts
of Nataliya Radonovskaya on my behalf in Kiev. A big sigh of relief.
But unfortunately not for long. After a lot of hanging around, meetings and discussion, the Chop custom officer decided in his wisdom to reject our entry for a seemingly spurious reason. Apparently individuals cannot transport horses through Ukraine, although I originally entered Ukraine openly and specifically with that intention, and Ukraine customs allowed me to do so. If they had not, I would not be in the Catch 22 situation I am in. As far as I am aware, it was with the full knowledge of the central office in Kiev, though Chop customs now claim that it was a mistake by the border point where I entered. They say the present decision has been made by someone in Kiev.
Interestingly one of the vets on the Hungarian side says he is aware of several individuals who have crossed the border here with horses, so I don't know what the problem is with us. Possibly we were not forthcoming with a 'gesture of friendship'.
At one point in the proceedings they brought up the requirement to pay a refundable deposit of 40 percent of the value of the horses on entry. I was already aware of this requirement which had not been enforced on our initial entry, although I had the money ready. We dug out the paperwork showing the original value of the horses and were willing to pay, but for some reason this option seemed to be withdrawn. We were also told to get a carnet ATA from Hungary, but we have since been told by Hungarian customs that this is not possible in any case as the horses have never officially entered Hungary.
After a lot of haggling the vet officer appeared to give in and give permission, to the extent that I filled in a customs declaration form, but when we drove out, we suddenly found ourselves guided back across the bridge to Hungary. In vain did we go back and plead to the new shift who had just taken over, apparently the decision had been made.
We have now spent nearly three weeks in a freezing (literally!) lorry, but the bottom line is that if I cannot get the horses out to Russia via Hungary, they will have to be put down.
I have been emailing frantically to contact everyone I know who could help to resolve this desperate situation. The Ukrainian Equestrian Federation are now on the case, thanks to the efforts of the International Equestrian Federation, and the British consulate are also helping. But any relevant contacts are most welcome - I am trying to attack from all angles. There should be a press release today.