In February 2022, Charlie arrived in Yakutsk just three days before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. His initial plan was to hike several hundred miles along the frozen surfaces of Arctic rivers to reach the port town of Tiksi on the North coast of Siberia. The aim was to reach remote settlements of the indigenous Sakha and Evenki peoples and witness their way of life in the harsh northern winter conditions. However, as the weeks passed and the war in Ukraine rumbled on, the old Soviet-era suspicions of outsiders gradually returned and Charlie was increasingly on the radar of the authorities.
On arrival in Tiksi he was arrested and found guilty of 'conducting journalism while travelling on a tourist visa'. The charges also included 'photographing sensitive military sites'. Charlie spent 4 weeks locked in a Yakutsk detention centre before finally being deported in late May. To read more about this experience you can read either Charlie's Twitter thread, or his article for the Sunday Times.