Ukraine has been living through turbulent times. Following the 2014 revolution it was invaded by Russia occupying the Crimean peninsula and igniting the conflict in the eastern region of Donbas.

With the conflict still simmering, the country has just entered a new political cycle; the election of a young standup comedian Volodymyr Zelensky as its president.

Prior to his political career, Zelensky starred in a comedy series (available on Netflix) about a schoolteacher who accidentally becomes a president. Largely comprised of political novices, Zelensky’s party has secured constitutional majority in the parliament and embarked on sweeping reforms, raising a huge amount of controversy.

DATESSaturday, 13th – Saturday, 20th June 2020
DESTINATIONKiev, Kharkiv
, Sloviansk, ChernobylLed by Leonid Ragozin
DURATION7 nights
INCLUDED
All AccommodationMeals and Water
Local TransportationExpert Guide
COSTCost: £3940.00
Single supplement: £500.00
Price of optional 1 day extension- Chernobyl (TBC)

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Our tour traces how the conflict came about and explores prospects for a peaceful resolution as well as the long- term impact on East-West relations.

The 8 day journey starts and ends in Kiev where we look at the origins of the Maidan Revolution and the fall of former President Viktor Yanukovych from power. We meet with analysts, diplomats and senior governments officials.

We head east to Kharkiv, a Russian populated city that remains under Ukrainian control despite attempts by separatists to take it over. We also visit Sloviansk in Donetsk region.

Beyond the politics Ukraine’s rich architectural heritage, abundance of good food and warm hospitality make it a fascinating and deeply rewarding place to visit.

Leonid Ragozin, a former BBC correspondent from the region, leads the tour. He now contributes to Bloomberg, The New Republic, Guardian, Time, Politico, Al Jazeera, Slon.ru, and Morgenbladet, as well as BBC WS, ABC (Australia) and several other radio stations. He is author of the Lonely Planet guides to Moscow, Baltics, Greece and Ukraine.

For obvious safety reasons this tour will not include any area affected by military conflict.

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Day 1

Saturday, 13th June: Kiev

Dinner with Political Tours Leonid Ragozin. We discuss Ukraine’s recent political history, the aftermath of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution, Russia’s intervention and the spectacular rise of Volodymir Zelensky, a standup comedian turned president. Kanapa restaurant on Kiev’s oldest street.
Overnight Kiev.
Day 2

Sunday, 14th June: Kiev to Kharkiv


We explore Kiev’s Independence Square and the government district, the former battleground between pro-Yanukovych forces and protestors during the Maidan Revolution. Visit Mezhyhirya, the residence of the ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. His opulently decorated dacha is seen as emblematic of the corruption associated with his government. Evening flight to Kharkiv. (Please contact us and we will let you know which flight to book that best fits the itinerary)
Day 3

Monday, 15th June: Kharkiv


Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, located 40km away from the Russian border is heavily influenced by Russia. It was a major technological and educational centre in Soviet times and is now a hi-tech hub. We meet with the head of a successful IT company and talk to traders about the impact of the current crisis. After narrowly avoiding a takeover by Russian backed gangs in the spring of 2014, Kharkiv became a staging ground for groups fighting Russian forces further south. We meet with politicians, and an academic from the competing pro-Russian and ‘pro-Maidan’ forces in the city. We look at how Kiev has sought to retain control in the region and the long-term impact of the conflict on this ethnically Russian area. Overnight Kharkiv.
Day 4

Tuesday, 16th June: Sloviansk

An early start and a 2.5 hr drive to Sloviansk in the Donetsk region. It was the first to bear the brunt of the Donbas war when a ragtag band led by the rogue Russian soldier of fortune Igor Girkin occupied it in April 2014. Russian-backed forces abandoned it after heavy fighting later that year and it is now a safe distance from the frontline, providing a glimpse into this conflict and local sentiments regarding both Ukraine and Russia. We return to Kharkiv. Overnight Kharkiv.
Day 5

Wednesday, 17th June: Kiev

After breakfast, we head to the airport for a late morning flight to Kiev.

(Please contact us and we will let you know which flight to book that best fits the itinerary)

We look at the dispute and schism within the Orthodox church: the Orthodox church of Ukraine has recently been granted independence marking a historic split form the Russian Orthodox church.

Overnight Kiev.

Day 6

Thursday, 18th June: Kiev

Back in the capital we get assessments from diplomats, and members of the international community on the future of the region.

Meetings with government officials, Ukrainian politicians from the ruling Servant of the People party as well as from the nationalist opposition. Discussions include talks with an economist about Ukraine’s debt crisis.

Overnight Kiev.

Day 7

Friday, 19th June: Kiev

Visit the local newspaper for their take on the current situation. A leading journalist gives their take on corruption, the economy, and prospects of closer ties with the EU. After lunch we have free time to explore Kiev followed a farewell dinner and review of the week in the city centre.
Day 8

Saturday, 20th June: Tour Ends / Optional extension - Visit to Chernobyl*

Departures for the airport after breakfast.

On Sat 20 June we are offering an optional extension to visit Chernobyl. This is a full day tour. Your departure would then be on Sunday 21 June. Contact us for further details and price*.


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What’s Included

All of your accommodation in four star hotels and nearly all meals are included, as well as local transport (except during your free time).

Flights are not included in the price and need to be arranged by customers themselves or with an agent. Please contact us for the return flight that best suits the itinerary- Kiev/Kharkiv.

Following the News

Like all our tours the itinerary is focused on current affairs. Events on the ground may change and the final schedule may be adjusted accordingly. For obvious safety reasons this tour will not include any area affected by military conflict.

This tour starts and ends in Kiev.

You will overnight in Kiev and Kharkiv. There is a day trip by road to Sloviansk. If you are interested in doing the optional one day extension on Sat 20 June to Chernobyl please contact us.

Group size

As on all our expert-led tours the groups are deliberately small and will not exceed 14 people. Frequently we travel with 10-12 people. Limited spaces are available.

Do I need a Visa?

Some foreigners require a tourist visa to enter Ukraine.

British, American, French, German and some other passport holders do not require a visa for a stay of up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

Australian, New Zealand and South African passport holders, amongst others, need to obtain a visa.

Please visit your Ukrainian Consular Website and check if you need a visa.</strong<

If you need a visa to travel to Ukraine, it is best done 6 weeks before you travel. In order to obtain your Ukraine visa you will need a VISA SUPPORT DOCUMENT/ TOURIST VOUCHER (also sometimes referred to as Invitation letter). The support document must be issued by a Ukrainian company that is authorised to do so. We can recommend an agency near you to help with your application. Please contact us for further details.

Currency

Local currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia.

Waether

Average Weather in June in Kiev

°C: 24 °C high, 14°C low
°F: 76 °F high, 55°F low

Currency

Local currency is the Ukrainian hryvnia.

What to Wear

Dress is generally casual and comfortable, comfortable walking shoes are essential. We also have a range of meeting with politicians or senior officials where we are expected to be more formally dressed. For these men will need a jacket (and tie) and women the female equivalent. A raincoat or umbrella would be a good idea as there is the possibility of infrequent rain.

Electricity and Plugs

2 round pin European plugs. 220 Volt electricity.v.

FCO Website – Travel Advice

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office publishes regularly updated travel information on its website www.fco.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure. Where it considers it appropriate to do so, the FCO may advise against all travel or all but essential travel to particular countries or parts of particular countries. Similarly, the FCO may withdraw any such previously given advice. Where the FCO issues such advice, we may as a result cancel your tour or make changes so as to avoid the area concerned (see clause 10 or our conditions). Alternatively, we may ask you to sign a form confirming you wish to proceed with the tour notwithstanding the FCO advice. It is in the nature of the itineraries we offer that the FCO may have issued such advice in relation to the country or parts of the country we are intending to visit prior to confirmation of your booking. In this case, you will be asked to sign the above form before we confirm your booking.

Medical Requirements

Advice on health requirements may be obtained from your GP, or alternatively from the Department of Health Leaflet Advice on Health for Travelers, or the Department of Health in the UK. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx

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Leonid Ragozin

Born in Moscow in 1972, Leonid Ragozin majored in geology (final thesis on beach dynamics) and foreign languages at the Moscow State University. After stints with an Australian gold mining company prospecting in Siberia and a travel agency selling InterRail tickets, he joined the BBC where he worked for a total of 12 years, doing radio, online and eventually TV.

His BBC career was interrupted by a four-year spell as a foreign correspondent and foreign desk editor at the Russian Newsweek. In addition to that, Leonid joined the pool of Lonely Planet authors and worked on the guides to Russia, Ukraine, Baltic countries, Greece and Germany – an activity he is still involved at present.

In 2013, Leonid decided to quit his permanent job and work as a freelancer, focusing primarily on the conflict in Ukraine and political strife in Russia. These days he primarily contributes to Bloomberg, but his stories and op-eds also appear in the Guardian, Time magazine, Buzzfeed, Al Jazeera and many other outlets.

Leonid guided his first Political Tour in the heady days of the Ukrainian revolution and has led numerous tours in the Baltic States, Ukraine and Russia.

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“Leonid as a marvellous guide. The travelling companions could not have been better. Smart and seriously interested. Taking everything in a stride and seeing the revolutionary complexities with a perfect sense of humour.

It was of course great for me to get out of the shadows of retirement and playing at being the foreign correspondent I once was. Though it was a bit sad having to leave and not go on with the story.” HHR, Ukraine 2014 (led by Leonid Ragozin)

“Leonid impressed me as he has in the past with his knowledge and understanding of how Russia and its neighbors interact. His feel for the current Russian leadership and their goals gave plenty of context to the political issues all these countries are facing.” MHE, Baltics 2017 (comments on tour leader Leonid Ragozin)

Quite the most comprehensive way of finding out what makes a country and the individuals in it tick. PT arrange access to all sorts of different people and experiences that would be impossible to access on one’s own and the organisation is excellent. The tours aren’t cheap, but, when you consider all that is on offer, they are very good value for money. JB, Russia 2016 (led by Leonid Ragozin & Angus Roxburgh)

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Suggested Reading for Ukraine

Leonid Ragozin

Leonid Ragozin writing for Bloomberg explains how ordinary Russians and Ukrainians want their governments to move on from the conflict

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-04-03/russia-and-ukraine-fight-but-their-people-want-reconciliation

Leonid is also a co-author of Lonely Planet Ukraine

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22815206-lonely-planet-ukraine

Other book and useful links:

Andrew Wilson

Ukraine’s youthful new government – by Andrew Wilson – Kyiv Post

https://www.kyivpost.com/article/opinion/op-ed/andrew-wilson-ukraines-youthful-new-government.html?cn-reloaded=1

See Andrew Wilson’s contributions to the European Council on Foreign Relations

https://www.ecfr.eu/profile/category/andrew_wilson

Ukraine the Unexpected Nation – By Andrew Wilson – now in its fourth edition.
The most acute, informed, and up-to-date account available today of Ukraine and its people, now in its fourth edition. “An interesting and provocative read, which will, one hopes, contribute to the Western understanding of what Ukraine is and why it matters.”-Volodymyr Kulyk, Harvard Ukrainian Studies “A spirited and eminently learned investigation of who Ukranians say that they are, how they came to be so, and how others view them. . . . If you re add only one book of Ukraine, this should probably be it.”-Elizabeth Luchka Haigh, H-Net Reviews

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ukrainians-Unexpected-Nation-Fourth/dp/0300217250/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

For a more cultural take

Marci Shore, an associate professor of history at Yale recommends the following – click the following link

https://fivebooks.com/best-books/ukraine-marci-shore/

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