Trouble at Moscow airport for Tchaikovsky competitors

Trouble at Moscow airport for Tchaikovsky competitors


norman lebrecht

June 17, 2019

We have heard from two entrants for the Tchaikovsky Competition that they were stopped and interrogated for hours at Domodedovo Airport about the valuable instrument they were carrying – despite prior notification of its identity and provenance.

The experience has been extremely distressing for young musicians and the cultural authorities seem powerless to help.

We have warned before of difficulties at Domodedovo. This is now a red-light warning to Tchaikovsky contestants.

The competition begins today.


  • Anonymous says:

    As somebody who owns a valuable instrument myself and often has traveled to Moscow, it’s always like this.
    If you choose to go through the red channel and declare your instrument, you must spend hours on filling up paperwork and debating with the authorities as to wether you can get out of the country with your instrument or not.
    The problem here is Russian law, which is very vague on the subject and open to interpretation.
    Not only in Domodedovo but also in Sheremetyevo, the other main Russian airport.
    Best to just go through the green channel, and if asked, say that your violin is some new Chinese instrument, that way you don’t get harassed. That’s what I do anyway

    • Robert Roy says:

      Congratulations on owing a valuable instrument. My concern is that should you ‘go green’, say your instrument is ‘Modern Chinese’ and get caught then you could get into very hot water. I appreciate that it’s unlikely BUT there’s still a possibility you could get be found out.

      Good luck!

      • Bill says:

        It’s funny, we see all these tests that claim that no one can tell the valuable old instruments from the brand-new ones, but people keep going to all this trouble to carry the old ones. Maybe get a cheap one that sounds halfway decent for travel to places like this, and avoid the worries!

  • Istvan Vardai says:

    This is the most dangerous advise you could give to (young) musicians, Anonymus. If you are not going through red channel and declare your instrument, there is a big chance when you want to leave the country they stop you and keep your instrument in Russia. Then you are in serious trouble, because you can’t prove you brought it in the country. The procedure takes about 20 minutes, filling out an A4 Form twice, you provide two photos and maybe a certificate with measurements of your instrument, you don’t lie about the value, they stamp the photos, you keep one Form and photo and they do the same. If the instrument is on loan, it’s advised to have a copy of the loan contract

  • Robert Groen says:

    No concern of mine. I’m a pianist.

  • Sanda Schuldmann says:

    That’s Putin’s Russia! Enter at your own risk!