Story of Artem Justin Hansen (Part I)
I would like to set the record straight about how I became involved in this horrible story of an 8 year-old boy whose American parents abandoned him. I am working with overseas clients as a private English speaking tour guide and professional driver for many years. I am regularly contacted by Americans asking that I meet them at an airport. I had no idea of the circumstances surrounding this particular pick-up. Frankly, I'm still in shock. I will remember the feelings I experienced for a lifetime.
Email exchange with Nancy Hansen. Booking transportation from an airport to Moscow city.
On April 6, 2010 I was contacted via e-mail by U.S. citizen Nancy Hansen, the adoptive grandmother of the now well-known Artem Saveliev (Justin Hansen). At the time I did not know that Artem was adopted by Nancy’s daughter Torrey on September 26, 2009, that he would be traveling alone, or the reasons for his travel to Moscow. This is her first letter:
"I am interested in hiring you for a pick-up from DME (Domodedovo Airport) to the office of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation on Monday April 12th. Could you please let me know the cost and if you are available on this date?"
Since I did not have a lot of orders for the first half of April and I was home when the e-mail arrived, I answered immediately:
"Dear Nancy, Thank you for your interest in my services. I am pleased to inform you that have not booked April 12 and can be available for you. I charge $120 for meeting at Domodedovo airport with transfer to downtown of Moscow city. If you want to book my services please send me details of your arrival (time, flight #, airlines), I use to check all arrivals online, so if your flight will have any delays don’t worry I will be informed about it."
She also replied to my letter almost instantly, within 10 minutes:.
"Hi: Thank you so much for your time. I am in the process of booking the flight and am trying to book a flight that arrives on Friday April 9th. If I can get this flight, would you be available on this date? I will send the information to you, once I know if you are available. Thank you again, Nancy"
Nothing about these emails seemed out of the ordinary to me. Anything can happen; flights to Moscow are often crowded, since Russia remains one of the most attractive countries for tourists. It is a pity that we have not yet been very active in attracting tourists from the West, as do other countries, but all of us try as we can, including me. I replied:
"Nancy, I checked my schedule and have not clients on April 9, so no problem. Send me your confirmation and arrival details after booking your flight. Arthur"
After about 25 minutes I received another e-mail from Nancy Hansen where she informed me that the date of arrival had changed due to the availability of flights from Washington:
"Hi Arthur: The only flight that I was able to book arrives at DME on Thursday April 8th at 1045. Are you available for pick-up on this day and time? I have the flight infomation if you are: Airline: United Time: 1045 Flight #: 964 Thank you for your time, Nancy"
Since I was having dinner with my wife when her e-mail came in, I wasn’t able to reply to Nancy’s letter until an hour and a half later. I was glad that she did not buy a ticket for April 7 because I was already booked that day for a country tour in Istria and Zvenigorod with my clients, Stuart and Virginia Stewart from the USA (Oklahoma), who were making a return visit to Russia to see their relatives working and living in Moscow.
"Sorry for some delay, I had to meet my wife from work and it was time for supper :) I will be working tomorrow full day, but on April 8 (the day after tomorrow) I had not big plans so I can meet you at Domodedovo. Where are you going to stay in Moscow To easy recognize each other in arrivals hall I will hold a card (A4 format) in my hands, I am blonde, not tall, my photo you can see/print here: http://www.moscow-driver.com/bphoto57.html My cell: +x xxx xxx xxxx. Please confirm."
Half an hour later, I received her confirmation:
"Hi Arthur: Thank you for confirming that you will be there for pick-up at DME. For payment would you prefer US Dollars or Russian Rubles? Thank you again for your time, Nancy"
Within 10 minutes I replied to her about the amount of services and confirmed the details of our meeting at the airport, on April 8:
"Hi Nancy, Any currency that will be convenient for you: $120 USD, 90 EURO or 3600 RUBLES. See you on Thursday at 10:45 am in arrivals hall of Domodedovo airport (you will enter in this hall after passing customs/passport control and taking your luggage). If you have any questions or additional requests, please, don’t hesitate to ask me. With BEST Regards from Moscow, Arthur"
Note that in all of our correspondence she never once told me that she would not be the one to meet me at the airport. I was fully convinced that she would be the one meeting me! It was only after our meeting had been confirmed that she sent me more specific details. The e-mail came in the next morning, April 7, 2010 at 8:00 am Moscow time:
"Hi Arthur: The pick-up on Thursday will be for an 8 year old boy named Artem Hansen. A United Airlines Customer Service Agent will escort him to the hall to meet you (you will need to show ID). The United Airlines customer service agent will hand you an envelope. Inside the envelope are 2 envelopes. One is an envelope for the Ministry of Education, Tverskaya Street, 11, Moscow. The other envelope will be addressed to you. Inside will be your payment in US Dollars. I would like for you to please escort Artem into the Office of the Ministry of Education. If you could please give me your fee for this additional service, I will enclose it in your envelope. Thank you for your time. Warmest regards, Nancy"
That morning I was quite busy. I sent my wife to work at 7:00 and checked the mail to answer the most important correspondence. I was in a hurry and could not finish everything because I had to meet my clients Stuart and Virginia at 9:00. We had planned a trip out of town to visit the wonderful historical and spiritual places in Istra (New Jerusalem) and Zvenigorod (Savin-Storodgevsky abode), and on the way back to Moscow to stay at the beautiful Preobrazhenia Church in the Small Vyazemy where Pushkin came to pray on the way to the estate of his grandmother in Zakharov. I was surprised to read this letter, because I was fully convinced that I was supposed to meet Nancy, not the child, but there was no time to think. Then it occurred to me that the boy was probably going to study or returning to school, and this made me feel better. I sent a confirmation and I asked her who I was to meet at the Ministry of Education:
"Hi Nancy, I have got all information and will do the best, don’t worry. I will be pleased to meet Artem and see him off to the Ministry of Education on Tverskaya street 11. Please advise if somebody has to meet us there. I don’t request additional fee, its my pleasure :) I would like to confirm that I will be in arrivals hall of Domodedovo tomorrow (April 8th) at 10:45 am meeting flight UA #964. Artem and the agent from UA customer service will find me easily holding a name tag of my client (Artem Hansen) in my hands. I am blonde, not tall, my picture is here http://www.moscow-driver.com/bphoto57.html My cell: +x xxx xxx xxxx. I you wish I can send you confirmation when my job will be done. With BEST Regards from Moscow, Arthur"
"Hi Arthur: The information you have is correct (April 8th at 10:45 am meeting Artem Hansen on flight UA #964). If you could take Artem inside the Office of the Ministry of Education, give possession of the envelope and Artem to the receptionist and send me confirmation when your job is done, I would be most appreciative. I have enclosed a total of $200 US Dollars for you. Thank you so much for your time. Warmest regards, Nancy"
I had no time to respond to this letter. I arrived home from work late that night tired but elated by the fact that the day was so sunny and beautiful, and that my clients were delighted by what they saw and the services I provided. I switched on the computer once again to check mail and read her letter (above). To tell the truth my good mood from the lovely day disappeared. It was too late for me to back out because of the time difference. If I did not meet the child at the airport, he would have been stranded. I work so hard to do everything the right way and to make my clients feel comfortable. I have a lot of great comments and friends from around the world, especially in the U.S. How could I refuse? I would not have survived thinking that the boy was left alone at the airport. So, despite my doubts I said about 8 pm:
"Dear Nancy, Just returned back to my home from countryside tour with my clients. Thank you for your confidence. I will do everything you asked and will send you confirmation after. Do you want to spoil me? :) I appreciate it of course and will do everything the best to work out the amount of money you sent me. With BEST Regards from Moscow, Arthur"
Here, I want to refute the erroneous reporting that I have seen on some TV channels, newspapers and internet news. In my correspondence with Nancy, there was no cynical bargaining; I never asked for additional money. Nancy voluntarily gave me a tip to show her thanks, which is a customary practice in the U.S. I have added it into the bill for my services. With all due respect to the news reporters, I wish to state that they have been misinformed. I was not trying to cheat my client. I refused to take more money when she inquired about the additional fee for taking the boy to the Ministry of Education. When she told me that money had already been sent, I included additional income in an official invoice for my services. Nancy Hansen used me. She misled me by not providing all the information. I had no idea that boy was once adopted and was being returned. I only learned later of her apparent flagrant violation of the law on adoption, detailed in the next section.
With sadness in my voice,
Edited on April 10, 2010
About Me in Short
My name's Arthur Lookyanov, I'm a private tour guide, personal driver and photographer in Moscow, Russia. I work in my business and run my website Moscow-Driver.com from 2002. Read more about me and my services, check out testimonials of my former business and travel clients from all over the World, hit me up on Twitter or other social websites. I hope that you will like my photos as well.
See you in Moscow!