Tour Putin’s Russia
Former BBC Moscow Angus Roxburgh examines the enormous impact of Vladimir Putin's leadership on a tour of Moscow and Russia.
Dates: Sat 17 – Sun 25, June 2017
Single Supplement: £500.00
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Vladimir Putin’s Russia has regained much of its standing lost during the years of chaos of the 1990s – and has emerged as a major challenge to Western governments.
Over 8 days Russia Tour we examine Russia’s recent history, its relationship with NATO and the conflict in Ukraine as well as Putin’s increasingly firm grip on power at home.
Our tour starts in Moscow with an introduction to Russia today with members of the President’s own party, the opposition, media and diplomats.
Beyond the capitol we travel through the countryside to Vladimir, a Soviet “Gotham City” complete with skyscrapers and then onto Nizhny Novgorod, home to its noted historic centre and industry.
Tour expert Angus Roxburgh is exceptionally placed to explain Russia’s recent history. He first lived in Moscow in the 1970s, and after working as the BBC correspondent advised President Putin on his media strategy.
Like all our tours there is also plenty of time to sample some of the very best of Russian cuisine and hospitality, from local homes to great cafes and restaurants.
Day One: Introducing Putin’s Russia
The tour starts in the centre of historic Moscow with an introduction to the week ahead. We dine with Angus Roxburgh and Political Tours staff to discuss where Russia is headed today.
Day Two: The many faces of Moscow
Moscow has been through radical changes since the collapse of communism, and the chaos of the 1990s. We explore the city through the eyes of Muscovites rich and poor, from its imperial centre to its Soviet era suburbs. In a local market we learn about the price of goods and recent inflation and how they have coped with sanctions imposed since the conflict in Ukraine.
Day Three: Vladamir
No country can be summed up by its capital: we head out of Moscow to get the view from two cities that offer insight into Russia’s evolution from a Tzarist Empire to a communist super-power. En route we stop at a farm outside Moscow; Russia has put new emphasis on production after the introduction of western sanctions. Unusually this one is British owned. The owner and villagers give their view on Russia’s leadership today. In the afternoon we drive to Vladimir, home to communist era high-rise blocks, but also key to understanding pre-Soviet history and home to some of the oldest churches in Russia. There are spectacular views too of the surrounding Oka Valley.
Day Four: Nizhny Novogrod
Next we visit Nizhny Novogrod, an exceptionally beautiful Russian city, with a mighty cliff top Kremlin overlooking the Volga and Oka rivers. Here local merchants rallied a popular army to repel the Polish. Today it is home to industry and the country’s oldest car factory, built by Ford in the 1930s. We learn about regional government and visit pensioners, many of whom thank Vladimir Putin for restoring Russian power, but are struggling to live in a tough economic climate. Some hark back to more predictable times.
Day Five: Moscow, The Centre of Power
In the 1990s government was chaotic, and organised crime groups and oligarchs were arguably more powerful than the Kremlin. Back in Moscow we look at how that was reversed and how power is now centred around Vladimir Putin. We meet with members of the Russian parliament or Duma. Diplomats and former Kremlin insiders explain how government works today. Oil is seen as key to Russia’s more recent economic fortunes. In the evening we speak with energy experts to look at the pros and cons of Russian energy policy.
Day Six: Church, State and Media
President Putin has renewed the state’s support for the Orthodox Church. We visit Christ the Saviour, the rebuilt cathedral that has become the symbol of the state’s role in religion. We look at the changing role of Russian media with a visit to a TV station to see how they cover the news in a challenging environment. Dinner with a political analyst and an award-winning correspondent.
Day Seven: Foreign Affairs
President Putin’s confidence at home has led to a more assertive role abroad and brought relations with the West into perilous new territory in Ukraine and the Middle East. The West sees Russia reigniting a new cold-war but Russia accuses the West of breaking its commitments. We look at changing Russian foreign policy and examine how this rediscovered influence is perceived by the Russian people? Dinner with the vice-president of a leading international think tank who will give further insight into Russian foreign policy.
Day Eight: Dacha
On this final day, after a mid-morning briefing with a leading Russian politician we get an opportunity to get out of the city to a Dacha. We review the week gone by accompanied by a local family, plenty of vodka and home-cooking.
Day Nine: Tours Ends
Departures to airport after breakfast.
All meals and accommodation are included in the price. Flights are not included and need to be arranged with your own travel agent.
Transport to and from Kazan is by overnight train. Political Tours current policy is to avoid using domestic flights in Russia. Train accommodation is in shared cabins for two people. The trains are clean, well staffed and offer a unique view on Russian life. Depending on availability you can pay extra for a double cabin for single occupancy. There are also flights to Kazan from Moscow.
1. Martin Sixsmith - Russia: A 1,000-Year Chronicle of the Wild East
Combining in-depth research and interviews with his personal experiences as a former BBC Moscow correspondent, Sixsmith skilfully traces the conundrums of modern Russia to their roots in its troubled past, and explains the nation's seemingly split personality as the result of influences that have divided it for centuries.
BBC Books, 2012
ISBN - 1849900736
2. Edward Lucas - The New Cold War: How the Kremlin Menaces Both Russia and the West
The book explains the Kremlin's use of energy blockades and trade sanctions, military sabre-rattling and propaganda wars against its neighbours - and why a divided and demoralised West is responding so feebly.
Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009
ISBN - 0747596360
3. Anna Politkovskaya - Putin's Russia
Anti-establishment journalist and human-rights activist Anna Politkovskaya (murdered in 2006) reports from behind the scenes, dismantling both Putin the man and Putin the brand name, arguing that he is a power-hungry product of his own history in the security forces and so unable to prevent himself from stifling dissent and other civil liberties at every turn.
Harvill Press, 2004
ISBN - 1843430509
4. Masha Gessen - The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin
As a journalist living in Moscow, Masha Gessen experienced this history first hand, and for The Man Without a Face she has drawn on information and sources no other writer has tapped. Her horrifying and spellbinding account of how this 'faceless' man manoeuvred his way into absolute - and absolutely corrupt - power will stand as a classic of narrative non-fiction.
Granta Books, 2012
ISBN - 1847081495
5. Rachel Polonsky - Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey in Russian History
An exploration of a country and its literature.
Faber and Faber, 2011
ISBN - 0571237819
6. Andrei Sinyavsky - Soviet Civilization: A Cultural History
A wonderful journey through the Soviet history via cultural events.
Arcade Pub, reprint edition (1991)
ISBN - 1559701595
7. Angus Roxburgh - The Strongman: Vladimir Putin and the Struggle for Russia
Drawing on dozens of exclusive interviews in Russia, where he worked for a time as a Kremlin insider advising Putin on press relations, as well as in the US and Europe, Angus Roxburgh also argues that the West threw away chances to bring Russia in from the cold, by failing to understand its fears and aspirations following the collapse of communism.
ISBN - 1780760167
8. Per Högselius - Red Gas: Russia and the Origins European Energy Dependence
This book provides an alternative approach to analyzing Western Europe's much-debated dependence on Russian natural gas. The author investigates how and why governments, businesses, engineers and other actors sought to promote – and oppose– the establishment of an extensive East-West natural gas regime that seemed to overthrow the fundamental logic of the Cold War.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
ISBN - 1137293713
9. Lilia Shevtsova, Andrew Wood - Change or Decay: Russia's Dilemma and the West's Response
In a series of lively and candid conversations, Lilia Shevtsova and Andrew Wood discuss how the Russia of Putin and Medvedev emerged from the ashes of the Soviet Union and the trajectory of Russia's relations with the West.
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2011
ISBN - 0870033476
10. Richard Sakwa - The Quality of Freedom: Khodorkovsky, Putin and the Yukos Affair
The arrest and imprisonment of Russia' richest man, the head of the Yukos oil company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, had far-reaching political and economic consequences but it also raised fundamental questions about the quality of freedom in contemporary Russia as well as in the world at large.
OUP Oxford, 2009
ISBN - 0199211574