Ordering a bag of herbal tea on the internet sounds harmless enough, but, as one young Russian man learned a couple of years ago, it can sometimes land you in prison for a very long time.
Alexei Novikov’s incredibly sad story began in September of 2015. The 34-year-old man was going to pick up his wife and daughter, who were living in Russia’s Samara region at the time, and decided to hitchhike instead of taking the bus. To cut his trip short, Novikov decided to cut through neighboring Kazakhstan, and in order to avoid any unnecessary trouble, he headed to the Isikul Road border post. Once there, he asked the border guards if he could cross the border on foot, but before answering him, they demanded that he present his backpack for inspection. And that’s when everything started going downhill for Novikov.