Vadim N. Chirskoff was a citizen of nowhere. He was not welcome here, nor was he welcome in the country of his origin.
This essay won second prize at this year’s 71st Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, English division.
He had no valid passport, no government ID, and no citizenship papers. But he lived in Room 210 of the Manila Hotel for a year, purchased a Cadillac for P11,000, and operated the Java China Trading firm from his hotel room to buy and sell patrol torpedo boats.
Several government agencies suspected him of being an illegal alien. The US Counter Intelligence Corps (or “CIC,” predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency) obtained a copy of his immigration statement and Alien Certificate of Registration from the Philippine Bureau of Immigration, and collected his hotel registration statement card. The Manila Police Department sent two agents to live in close proximity, interviewed everyone he knew and talked with, and checked in for two weeks at the hotel to watch his movements.
On June 1, 1948, agents raided his PT boats, which were anchored near the Jones Bridge in the Pasig River. He was interrogated, arrested, and charged of aiding the Huks. Soon, the Deportation Board issued a warrant of deportation. Once, the immigration officer tried to bring him back to Shanghai, but the Chinese Consulate did not issue the proper visa, so the immigration authorities at Shanghai refused to admit him.
The Commissioner of Immigration then tried to deport him to the Port of Latvia, but the Russian ship officer did not recognize his passport and evidence of origins. He showed his birth certificate, school records, military service records, marriage certificate, and other papers which, through some unknown operation of law, were supposed to spell out that porous, abstract, and mysterious quality called “citizenship”. But these tokens of Imperial Russia now lingered as mere historical artifacts, collector’s items, ghosts of a vanished regime, and as his friends called it, “the remains of a civilization”.
Chirskoff sold boats and was a dashing playboy who rubbed elbows with the rich and famous in the Manila Hotel. Two years after the Battle of Manila, he was reduced to a broke and unkempt man whom nobody wanted.
Vadim N. Chirskoff was a citizen of nowhere. He was not welcome here, nor was he welcome in the country of his origin, a country which his family and friends considered “gone.” No ship of the Soviet Union (which he called the country that “vanished” Imperial Russia) would accept him. The deportation order remained unserved. Chirskoff remained in Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa. He would be transferred to the Cebu Provincial Jail every time a Russian vessel would dock at the Cebu Port, and if he was refused to be boarded, he would again be brought back to Bilibid.
Chirskoff (or “Cheese,” as guests and staff of the Manila Hotel called him) filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. After the Battle of Manila in February 1945, five more Russian refugees filed cases in the Philippine Supreme Court: Eremes Kookooritchkin, Victor A. Borovsky, Jack J. Bermont, Boris Mejoff, and Charles K. Andreu. The Geneva Convention called them “stateless persons”. Some of them fought with the White Russian Army in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1916. Defeated, they fled by sea from Vladivostok to Shanghai. The others escaped through the Trans-Siberian Railway. From there, they migrated to Manila. Some fought with the guerrillas during the Japanese occupation. Some acted as spies for the Kempeitai. They fought against deportation into a country that they no longer recognized. Some fought for naturalization and won.
They were not necessarily upright men. The deportation proceedings were based on valid grounds. Chirskoff’s PT boats helped smuggle firearms and ammunition to Borneo, including a Thompson sub-machine gun, 19 rounds of .45 calibre ammunition, a Japanese rifle, and a U.S. Army carbine. Andreau did not register as an alien upon entry into the country, in violation of Commonwealth Act No. 653. Borovsky was a habitual drunkard and vagrant. Mejoff was a secret operative of the Japanese forces in Shanghai and was arrested as a spy by the CIC. Others, like Bermont and Kookooritchkin, fully integrated into Philippine society, worked in a provincial company, married into a Filipino household, spoke native languages, and obtained Filipino citizenship.
Some of them prospered for a time. Kookooritchkin was a shop superintendent of A.L. Ammen Transportation Company, and supervised 80 employees. Bermont worked at Bobcock and Company, then at Heacock and Company, and finally at the lumber concession of Jose Cauwenbergh. He also became a stockholder and director of the United States-Philippine Reconstruction Corporation, and earned a remuneration of 1,600 pesos per month. Andreu was an architect and contractor.
Chirskoff sold boats and was a dashing playboy who rubbed elbows with the rich and famous in the Manila Hotel. Two years after the Battle of Manila, he was reduced to a broke and unkempt man whom nobody wanted, an “undesirable alien whose conduct and mode of life rendered his presence in the Philippines inimical and dangerous to public interest.”
Few written records about Chirskoff survive: dossiers, memos and letters (File No. H8009931) from the declassified records of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration; the Supreme Court case of Vadim N. Chirskoff v. Commissioner of Immigration and Director of Prisons, G.R. No. L-3802, October 26, 1951; and a diary entry by Philip A. Mehan, who dined and drunk with Chirskoff in the Manila Hotel for a good number of days.
Endless feast: Manila Hotel, 1947
Chirskoff lifted the beer bottle with a tight fist, toasted to the poster of an actress on the wall, and drank in the cobalt light of the nightclub. He had a Mauser pistol on the table. A rotating strobe of pink light from a police car pierced the blue darkness of the bar. Now and then, the siren would sing. He watched a man and a woman dance by the jukebox. It was jazz night. It was an endless night. He was in the Manila Hotel’s nightclub, and he had some money, and he was hungry, and he felt like wanting to have a good time. He soaked his fingers with the ring of drips around the ice cold glass, then he brushed his hair to get the slicked-back style of the man dancing by the jukebox.
The only thing he did not have was a suit. Once again, he toasted to the actress. A portion of the poster was peeled off the wall across her eyes, like a blindfold. Who was she anyway? His lips were wet with alcohol, which dripped down his chin. He sliced the salmon with knife, his sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He cut the metallic skin like a surgeon, and the smell of salmon rose in the air. He savored the taste of Schlitz mixed with the flavor of something straight out of the sea. He wiped his lips with a fist. He was the club’s perfect guest. The night went deeper and darker, and in his gut he longed for the wild heat of a new experience.
He used to be a clerk at a lawyer’s office in Yokohama, Japan. He also worked at the United Artists Movie Co. and Lichen Co. for a time. But since he wanted to see the world, he applied as part of the crew of a Scandinavian boat. Not finding the job suitable, he applied as sales agent for barges and tug boats until World War II broke out. He married Nina Deniseva and had a son.
During the war, Chirskoff traded in a few black market goods: needles, milk, and U.S. dollars. He was just an old boy with cigarettes and lighter in his pocket.
After the war, he found a job at the Java China Trading Co. Ltd. at 17 Canton Road, Shanghai. The firm was engaged in salvage operations, and collected the bones and cadavers of 8,000-ton American vessels wrecked during the war and sunk by the Japanese. The Java China personnel spent most of their time in the field, hauling propellers, engines, airframes, and wings out of the ocean, sand, or jungle, and transporting their remnants to the aircraft graveyard. It was at this time that Chirskoff was assigned to buy and sell boats, purchasing seven F-type boats and seven motor boats from the Surplus Commission in Shanghai. Tasked to deliver the boats to the army base in Cavite, he arrived in Manila on June 11, 1946, checked in at the Manila Hotel, and set up his temporary office in his bedroom. He made friends and became a regular patron of the hotel bar.
He smoked under the ceiling fan, the silver tail coiling upward, to the slow-spinning fan blades, which blew the tail into a rectangular ventilation hole near the ceiling and out of the building. He had watched this dance of air particles for half an hour now. A waiter stumbled and spilt a few drinks on the floor. And now there were splotches of whiskey on his brown boot. He swung his hand and gripped the waiter by the collar, and veins bulged on his clenched fist. “Do you know who I am?” he said. The veins looked like a mountain range gleaned from an airplane window. “Sure I do,” the waiter said, “you’re the Man of Neander.” And they burst out with laughter, and the waiter gave the Man of Neander’s shoulder a gentle punch.
On some nights, he met up with his business associate; he dined with politically connected people; he drunk with the famous, or those who had connection to fame; he socialized with colonels and other military personnel, sometimes for business reasons and sometimes for pure entertainment.
“Drinking alone, boss?” “Waiting for someone, anyone,” he said. “No hashish?” “You’re very old school, boss. Very old school. Just some killers.” “I want me some killers.”
The waiter walked the length of the club, which had the dimension of a railway passenger car. The jukebox and the dance floor were at the entrance. The club was bisected by a long aisle: red diner seats to the right, lunch counter to the left, and seated at the back was the boat dealer, Chirskoff, middle-aged, married, and with a kid. He faced the back wall, his nape and the back of his hair with graying locks turned toward the arriving guests. But he saw everything in front through a mirror. Beside this mirror was a backdoor which led to an inner sanctum, a private space for the select. Bottles of liquor glistened behind the lunch counter: Buchanan, King, Seagram’s, VAT 69, Old Jordan, arranged like pipes in a Gothic grand piano.
The backdoor opened and the waiter peeped out and assumed the voice of a circus ringmaster.
“Come in, boss. Got password?” “I don’t know,” Chirskoff said. “Jinmetsu?” The waiter shook his head, but he swung the door open and gestured like an usher. “Why would you let me in, if the password was wrong?” “Because you’ll bust your way in.”
The inner sanctum of the club was cold, narrow and dark. There were no lights on the ceiling, only a few lamps on the wall, the kind that brightened men’s jaws and threw the shadow of their cheekbones across the face. Chirskoff walked in with half a face, for the lamps were all on one side of the room, and as he passed by the tables of gentlemen and ladies from all ages, the portraits of celebrities from the past decade beamed on him from the wall with the lamps, gods and goddesses in majestic black and white, aligned like frames on a film reel. His arrival did not stir the crowd.
The couple in a corner was still kissing, the man’s arm wrapped around the woman’s neck. A triad of gentlemen, wearing oxford shirts and ties, continued to discuss the routine blackouts, the late arrival of mails from the post office, the reconstruction of the national railway. He took the last table and balanced a cigarette in his mouth.
It was here where he conducted most of his business. On some nights, he met up with his business associate, Philip Mehan, who was also part of Java China. He dined with politically connected people, including Nicanor Roxas, who was an aide to the Presidential Secretary. He drunk with the famous, or those who had connection to fame, such as an executive from the Universal Pictures Corp., who stayed in the hotel several rooms away from him. He socialized with colonels and other military personnel, sometimes for business reasons and sometimes for pure entertainment. His boss, a man surnamed Winklevoss, who carried a Dutch passport, would fly in every now and then and stay at the Oak Room of Manila Hotel, to check up on their Philippine operations.
Chirskoff operated 18 vessels, which were docked at various harbors and ports in Manila, and which the authorities suspected of being engaged in smuggling activities. His employees would sometimes visit him in his room, and he would write bills to reimburse their expenses and guarantee their business-related debts. He used the vessels for copra operation and lumber business, and there was a time when he needed to secure half a million of capital for this activity (a staggering amount of money during that era). On some days, he would drive his Cadillac on the way to the army base in Cavite to transact with the military.
Chirskoff was not living with his wife, Nina. She was 25 years old, and a dossier described her with the words “blonde, fair complexion, heavily freckled, blue eyes.” There were rumors that she was dating another man, named Felix Hertzka, who like Chirskoff was also engaged in import and export. Chirskoff did not seem to mind, since he himself was popular with the ladies, and consorted with the wives of his business associates and other hotel guests.
He lived the life of a don, hiring men from the Army and Navy to escort him in his business trips. There was a former pilot from FEATI who would fly him on a chartered plane to wherever he was needed. This bothered the police and the CIC: he had control of almost every mode of transportation, be it land (his Cadillac), water (his PT boats), or air (chartered plane). He had vast amounts of money at his disposal, which he could draw from any time on the company’s books.
“This makes him dangerous,” said the police agent observing him in the Manila Hotel, who theorized that the Java China was in fact Russian-owned and may be secretly providing resources to the Huks. The police went so far as interviewing Chirskoff’s wife when she got the time to visit him in the Philippines. His wife told the agent that she was forbidden from reading or just touching his correspondence, whether business or personal. This combination of a life of luxury and secretive character was a red flag to the authorities.
Not contented with the trafficking of PT boats, he planned to make money from fishing. People who interacted with him described him as an “engineer of the first class”, but there was no evidence that he even graduated from high school. Notwithstanding this seemingly lack of formal education, people had the impression that he was quick-witted and cunning.
He knew how to play politics, and he played it well. Once there was a typhoon in Baler, and several PT boats of the Java China firm anchored off in the nearby waters. Chirskoff immediately chartered a flight to Baler to arrange for the towing of the boats. But first he had to gain the trust of the locals. As it was typhoon season, he donated a diesel engine to the local mayor and provided food for the evacuees. This opened up an opportunity to nurture a relationship with the locals. And soon, not only was Chirskoff able to tow the boats, he also spent a number of days sightseeing the town on horseback. He went to parties and dances and gave lavish gifts to the ladies. There were reports that he handed out money bills to some women just for attending the dances. Wherever Chirskoff went for business, he took the party with him.
By the end of 1947, Chirskoff was running out of funds. He was heavily mired in debt. And he was wiring the Java China to send in some money, without success. Circumstances pushed him to offer his Cadillac for sale. His debts to his associates, friends and hotel guests were piling up. He could not get certain boats repaired. He sent telegrams to some connections in Shanghai with a tone of desperation. It seemed that Chirskoff met a dead end and his money shortage was making his charms wear off.
Chirskoff’s diminished stature emboldened the authorities. Gradually, agents of the Manila Secret Service (or the “MSS”, formerly the Manila Police District) closed in on Chirskoff and his associates. The raid of boats in the Pasig River yielded a discovery of unlicensed firearms. At the time of the raid, Chirskoff had already transferred the registration of the boat in the name of a certain Mr. Widrin; hence, Chirskoff’s creditors could not attach the asset for the satisfaction of his debts. This event prompted the MSS to launch a series of surveillance and interrogation activities in the social circle of Chirskoff. The MSS acted on a tip that Chirskoff’s associates wanted to smuggle the firearms to Borneo. Chirskoff went into hiding, but some of his associates were brought into custody and questioned by the MSS.
A series of investigation brought to light more grounds to incarcerate Chirskoff. Philip Mehan voluntarily submitted himself to custody, not in response to the smuggling accusation, but to an entirely different warrant of arrest on charges of estafa filed by certain seamen who claimed to have been defrauded and were unpaid by the firm for their services. Meanwhile, Chirskoff was rumored to be hiding in the residence of one of his military connections in Manila.
Chirskoff, out of funds, sought to loan 360 pesos for the purpose of posting a bail in case of his capture. But his friends refused to lend him money, having perhaps bankrupted their trust, as Chirskoff still owed them several sums. At this point, Chirskoff was so desperate that he exhausted all his political connections, even as far as seeking the help of Philip Buencamino and Arsenio Lacson, just to have his warrant of arrest quashed.
It was during the Christmas season of 1947 that Chirskoff was found on Rizal Avenue. The MSS field informant reported that he looked different this time. His party playboy persona had worn off. He looked more like a vagrant, with grimy clothes and matted hair. “He looked like one of those people in America living under the bridges and who would put their hands in the garbage can fire for warmth,” said one of his friends. Another said that he was spotted asking for strangers to spare him some cigarettes.
This was a particularly inopportune time. Rumors abound that his wife was already going to divorce him. But even before people were sure of the divorce, a certain woman was already introduced to his friends and associates as his fiancé. MSS agents did not lose time in approaching his bride-to-be when she flew to the country. They met up with her at Traders Café for some questioning. She had no idea what became of his boyfriend. Chirskoff remained missing, and his associates continued to meet up at the Manila Hotel’s bar without him.
Chirskoff’s associates disassembled certain boats and held a fire sale over the engines and parts. He also disposed of his Cadillac at a sacrificial price. It was a situation far removed from those days when he could afford to gift government officials with vehicles. At one time, he gave a green Jeepney to Roxas (the Presidential Secretary’s aide). With no more funds to buy his freedom, the authorities moved in for the kill: Chirskoff was arrested, interrogated and detained.
This move was not an isolated incident, but part of a grand scheme to regulate Russian refugees in Manila during that time. Chirskoff was not the only one who was brought into custody. Simultaneous with his arrest was the incarceration of Borovsky, Andreu and Mejoff—three of the other Russian refugees who would also file Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus later on in the Supreme Court, and would win their cases. The others were not so lucky: Chirskoff’s wife and son were deported, along with another Russian.
Unlike Chirskoff, they were not considered stateless persons, and had a home country into which they were repatriated. The Manila Times and the Manila Tribune reported the arrest of “Russian Huks” and the successful repatriation of the others. “Repatriation” was an impossibility for Chirskoff, as “patria” was exactly the thing that he lacked. This state of perpetual mobility, of homelessness, and of exile was a running theme in his life, and seemed to have inspired a certain motif in the way he conducted his affairs: his business interest in watercraft; his general ability to move from place to place through various modes of transportation; the fact that he had lived in Japan, Shanghai and now, Manila; his involvement in international trade; his indictment for smuggling; and finally, the fact that he had made the Manila
Hotel his own office and home. Hotels are temporary abodes, and as far as guests are concerned, they remained as “guests” until they departed at the appointed date. Chirskoff was a perpetual guest, and he remained until he was forced by circumstances to vacate the premises.
Chirskoff was set to be deported. He sat in the waiting room of the passenger terminal at the Port of Cebu since lunchtime. It was now 3:00 a.m. and he had gone to the public bathroom several times to urinate and sleep in one of the stalls. Many times, he was awakened by a knock on the door; sometimes, it was a call of necessity, but more often, it was a dirty invitation.
Then he heard his name in the distance. The voice grew, and he realized it came from the Immigration Officer. The officer banged the door and escorted him back to the waiting room, where three other Russians sat with all their bags. He only had his briefcase, which contained documents of his identity. The terminal was crowded and so many people seemed to have tucked their entire lives in their luggage. The officer pushed him to the departing crowd. A hand held his right shoulder. Another gripped his left elbow. And he was thirsty.
It was time to go. The officer said that M/V Alexander Saveliev, a vessel of Russian registry, had docked at the port; that Chirskoff would finally be brought back to his old country, at the port of Ilyichevsk; and that the Commissioner of Immigration had suffered long enough
(“What choice do we have but to detain him? No one wants to accept him”). The Director of Prisons also did not want to detain Chirskoff further, but it was nevertheless his duty to keep him— temporarily, yes, but indefinitely, until a Russian boat would eventually take him. Chirskoff laid the whole content of his briefcase before the ship officer, but they all amounted to a pile of useless papers. These symbols of the State, once exuding efficacy and vitality three decades ago, now lingered as historical ephemera.
He did not think this strange; he had outlived several regimes in his lifetime (Imperial Russia, the First Philippine Republic, then the Puppet Republic), and his briefcase was not the only museum of a disappeared world. There was another baggage, full of things that reminded him of his bankruptcy, and which he left in his house at Libertad (“Never to be opened again”), containing currencies that had been outlawed, war notes that were devoid of value, checks and promissory notes that were unenforceable, and automobile supply contracts that were rendered illegal because of the Battle of Manila. The only remnant of the Japanese Military Occupation that had full force and effect to this day was his marriage contract, which had unluckily persisted through all that bombing and burning.
A car brought him back to the Cebu Provincial Jail. The day after, he was transferred back to the Bilibid Prison at Muntinlupa. He was allowed to contact Philip Mehan and Boris Mejoff, probably his only friends in the world. There must have been some kind of collective action among these acquaintances to file for judicial relief, as the cases of Chirskoff, Kookooritchkin, Borovsky, Bermont, Mejoff, and Andreu were decided within a span of a few years.
Bearing in mind the situation where a stateless person could be deported into a country which would not admit him, only to return back to the country where he was not welcome, that person inevitably faced the absurd situation of practically living in perpetual exile in the seas, being boarded from one ship to another, until the last days of his life.
Kookooritchkin’s case for naturalization was already being heard even before the breakout of World War II, but the Battle of Manila in March 1945 destroyed most of the court records, and the case had to be reconstituted two years later. Kookooritchkin was born on November 4, 1987 in St. Petersburg. He was a member of the Imperial Russian navy, attended the Navy Aviation School, and was assigned on duty in the Baltic Sea, then to the British Air Force. He joined the White Russian Army during the revolution of 1917, and fought against the Bolsheviks. Defeated, he escaped to Shanghai, and from there, he transferred to Manila, being one of the White Russians brought by Admiral Stark in 1923. He resided in Camarines Sur, and during the Japanese Occupation, went underground as a guerrilla fighter.
This last fact was crucial for the court in deciding to grant the naturalization of Kookooritchkin. “Although he could have lived in ease by maintaining good relations with the enemy by reason of his being Russian-born during the years preceding the declaration of war by Russia against Japan, the applicant of his own volition chose to cast his lot with the guerrilla movement and fought the enemy in several encounters in the Province of Camarines Sur.” It appeared that fighting for a country was an obvious proof of loyalty, and was deserving of favorable judgment in an application for citizenship.
The merits of other Russian refugees were not so obvious. Chirskoff, Borovsky, Andreu and Mejoff were not perfect human beings and had deeply flawed characters. Mejoff, in particular, was the exact opposite of Kookooritchkin: he worked for the enemy, conducting espionage activities for the Japanese forces. Not only was this a flaw in character, but also a ground for the high crime of treason for citizens and resident aliens. To add insult to injury, he entered the country without valid papers.
There was no doubt that illegal aliens have no right of asylum. This much was certain in the judgment of the Court in the case of Mejoff. But bearing in mind the situation where a stateless person could be deported into a country which would not admit him, only to return back to the country where he was not welcome, that person inevitably faced the absurd situation of practically living in perpetual exile in the seas, being boarded from one ship to another, until the last days of his life. Bearing in mind, too, that in a U.S. precedent (Staniszewski vs. Watkins, 1948) involving a man who had lost his Polish nationality and who was denied entry in America, the man eventually ended up detained on an island when the two countries wanted to exclude him from their respective territories.
The Court, in essence, ruled that liberty from endless detention, given that deportation was impossible, should be independent from the moral virtues held by a person. The nature of a “right” is such that one could invoke it regardless of the merits of one’s character.
And what exactly was the right invoked by Chirskoff? It could not have been mere procedural due process—clearly, the authorities were within their power to arrest, interrogate, detain him. Rather, it was nothing but a natural right to human dignity, which was so self-evident that it did not have to be written in the laws.
In order to understand statelessness, one must first understand what it means to be a citizen of some place. The documents for an application for citizenship by a foreigner are simple: a petition in triplicate; two photographs of the applicant; information about his present and former places of residence, occupation, place and date of birth, whether single or married, approximate date of arrival in the Philippines, name of the port of debarkation, and, if he remembered, the name of the ship on which he came; a declaration that he has the qualifications required by law; the affidavit of at least two credible persons; and a certificate of arrival.
These documents were supposed to establish a nexus between one’s identity and the political community. Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Rousseau, and Tacitus viewed citizenship as a core element of a person’s identity and an indispensable building block for civic self-rule. This school of thought saw citizenship as a difficult and rigid process. It approved difficult qualifications for naturalization, slow and lengthy procedure of review for applications and petitions, and rapid extraction of illegal aliens in the territory.
The Ancient Romans had a different view. On 212 C.E., Emperor Caracalla granted citizenship to every free inhabitant of Rome. The Digest of Roman jurist Ulpian states, “All persons throughout the Roman world were made Roman citizens.” This was the culmination of a deep history that began with the founding of Rome itself. “Edgy in a different way was the idea of the asylum, and the welcome, that Romulus gave to all comers – foreigners, criminals and runaways – in finding citizens for his new town,” wrote Mary Beard in SPQR (2015).
The impossibility of deportation meant endless detention. Chirskoff was lucky: he was detained for a few months. Andreu languished in detention for almost five years.
Those who viewed citizenship as an essential core of personal identity (the “Republican Model”) promoted restricted access, while those who viewed citizenship as a legal status, bearing a bundle of rights and privileges and nothing more (the “Liberal Model”), promoted more open and tolerant policies to outsiders, strangers, exiles, immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. The Republican Model saw citizenship as central to one’s sense of self. The Liberal Model saw it as an “occasional identity”—and so it was for Chirskoff.
What happened to him was representative of the lives of Russian immigrants who struggled against deportation into a vanished country. Kookooritchkin, Borovsky, Bermont, Mejoff, and Andreu were all detained for distinct crimes, but the attempt to deport them had the same outcome as Chirskoff’s: the captain of the Russian steamer in the Port of Cebu would refuse to allow each of them to board the ship. The ground for denial was always the same: lack of permission from the Russian Government to take them aboard. Pushed to its logical conclusion, the impossibility of deportation meant endless detention. Chirskoff was lucky: he was detained for a few months. Andreu languished in detention for almost five years.
Lawyers argued that this violated due process. The judge in the trial court hearing the case of Kookooritchkin, in particular, wrote, “Although a Russian by birth, he is not a citizen of Soviet Russia. He disclaims allegiance to the present Communist Government of Russia. He is, therefore, a stateless refugee in this country, belonging to no State, much less to the present Government of the land of his birth to which he is uncompromisingly opposed.”
The Supreme Court upheld the judgment, recognizing that the “ruthlessness of modern dictatorship has scattered throughout the world a large number of stateless refugees or displaced persons, without country and without flag. The tyrannical intolerance of said dictatorships toward all opposition induced them to resort to beastly oppression, concentration camps and blood purges, and it is only natural that the not-so-fortunate ones who were able to escape to foreign countries should feel the loss of all bonds of attachment to the hells which were formerly their fatherland’s.”