- OVIR - the department that handles visas and immigration. I think it's actually called something else here now, but Russian speakers tend to say OVIR, like in Russia. OVIR is somehow a branch of police.
- propiska - what Ukrainian (and Russian) citizens get to show where they live. Utility costs are based on how many people are propisani in an apartment. Many people are propisan in one place and live in another. Propiski are done through housing authorities.
- registration - this was/is required for people coming into Ukraine (and Russia) on visas. You come in on a visa, but you stay with registration. Registration is done through OVIR.
(If you've never lived in this part of the world, your eyes are probably glazed over by now. If you have lived here, you're probably laughing. )
Now I'll try to explain. Will was flying along, gathering the documents we need to apply for temporary residency. One of those is a propiska. Over the course of several days, Will went and talked to our landlord about it, asked about the process at the local passport office, talked to our building chairman, and had our building passport lady fill out our forms in quadruplicate. He was pretty much running around non-stop. Then he went back to the building chairman for his stamp and signature. The chairman called our landlord for his approval, and he used the word "propiska" this time. So, our landlord refused. He had no problem with us being registered here, or even something a little more official, but he was not going to agree to an actual propiska. Dead end.
Next Will started asking people at church if we could be propisani with them. The older people don't want to do it, because they're afraid that having more people listed in their home could lose them some of their benefits or raise their utilities (which we would pay for!). Anyway, he found someone among the younger people. A week went by, trying to match up schedules, when the right offices were open and such. Yesterday Will went with our friend to propisatsya in their apartment. On the local level, no one knows anything about how to do this. They say that we can't have a propiska, unless we have temporary residency. Of course, temporary residency is what we're trying to get, and we need a propiska to get it.
OVIR and the passport offices are closed on Monday, so that was the dead end yesterday. Hopefully Will can make more progress today. Everyone seems willing to help, they just need to figure out what they're supposed to do and how.
Oh, here's something we've been laughing about: I was reading online about different people's experiences with this. One American was trying to get a propiska with his Ukrainian mother-in-law, and she was concerned about him having to undo his American propiska first.
UPDATE: Yesterday Will got someone who knows what is going on to call down to the propiska lady and tell her what to do. So, we got something like a provisional propiska in our friend's apartment. Praise the Lord for that! From there, Will took it and everything else to Zaporozhya and turned it in. We still had some questions, but the woman who works there was too busy to look through everything right then. We should know by next week if we have temporary residency, or if there are still a few more hoops to jump through. (Wow. This is definitely not Russia, where it takes 6 months to get that answer!)