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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

American In Tax Feud Goes Home

U.S. citizen Al Decie finally boarded a train to Riga, on Friday night after being stuck in Russia for five months without a visa amid a tax dispute.

Decie, 32, has worked for a U.S.-based nonprofit organization in Krasnoyarsk in western Siberia since 1996, but his visa was abruptly seized last July by local authorities who said he had not paid taxes.

Decie called the seizure illegal and took Krasnoyarsk's visa and registration department, or OVIR, to court on Nov. 9.

Last week, the Krasnoyarsk OVIR returned to Decie his visa on the condition that he drop the lawsuit.

"Glad it's over. It still hasn't hit me 100 percent true, but my life is not on hold again," Decie said in an interview.

When the OVIR seized his visa in July, they said Decie would have to pay his taxes to get it back. Decie, like hundreds of other Americans here, had never paid Russian taxes because he thought he was enjoying a tax break under an agreement signed by the United States and Russia in 1992.

The agreement exempts employees of nonprofit organizations that receive U.S. government funding from Russian taxes. However, it was never ratified by the State Duma and therefore has no legal force.

Krasnoyarsk authorities could not be reached for comment Friday.

In an interview last month, Decie said he was willing to pay the taxes, but the authorities never said how much he owed.

Decie said this week that he still hasn't been told the amount authorities think he owes in taxes.

The tax feud is not over yet, and Decie said he would like to visit Russia again.

His lawyer, Aika Dzhakobayeva, will continue handling the tax dispute for him.

But for now he is just looking forward to spending Christmas with his family in Newburyport, Massachusetts. He plans to arrive back in the United States on Wednesday.