Russians in Chukotka thwart limbless Frenchman's Bering Strait swim

A French swimmer with no limbs still planned to paddle the Bering Strait Friday; however, diplomatic complications have thwarted his attempt at making history.

Despite weeks of working with the government of Chukotka, Philippe Croizon will have to turn around at the maritime border between Russia and the United States after hopes to secure final border permits fell through.

Croizon's plan was to swim the transcontinental channel separating Asia and North America -- his fourth such swim -- between Alaska's Little Diomede Island and Big Diomede, in Russia. Expedition leader Marc Gaviard said the team had received clearance from Moscow to make the two-and-a-half-mile swim, but border guards in Chukotka are balking.

Chukotka -- an autonomous district located in Russia's far east -- is asking that the team receive an invitation to visit the region's borders. However, the only people who can issue an invitation are the ones in charge of the border, Gaviard said. So far, Chukotka has not been willing to do so.

“We had one set of paperwork saying yes, but people on the border saying 'no,'” Gaviard said.

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