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Meduza/Katya Letova
Two of the Ando children nap on an air mattress set up in a former smoking lounge at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport.

Photos: A family of Kurdish refugees is living in a Moscow airport lounge

By Jake Flanagin

A family of Kurdish refugees has been stranded in Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport since Sep. 10, 2015. Khasan Aman Ando, together with his wife, Gulistan, and their four children are seeking asylum in the Russian Federation after fleeing from ISIL-occupied Iraq, but have thus far been unable to leave the premises.

Accused of forging their passports, the Andos were initially barred from leaving the airport until the Syrian government could verify the authenticity of their papers (which it eventually did). On Oct. 14, however, Russian immigration officials once more denied the family refugee status.

Meduza/Katya Letova

“I called the Federal Migration Service, and they told me right away that the request for asylum will be denied because of the criminal charges for crossing the border illegally,” Svetlana Gannushkina, a human-rights aid worker, told Novaya Gazeta.

Though Gulistan has been permitted to leave the airport to receive treatment at a nearby hospital, the rest of the family has been forced to make do with a former smoking lounge converted to a temporary living space. According to The Moscow Times, the family is waiting for another visit from Russian immigration officials to decide their fate.

At the moment, should they step outside Sheremetyevo’s transit zone (which previously homed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for 40 days) they could be charged with crossing the border illegally—a crime punishable by up to six years in a Russian prison.

Katya Letova, a photographer for Meduza, went to Sheremetyevo to document the Andos’ highly unusual circumstances.

Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova
Meduza/Katya Letova