Ukraine holiday a ‘great way to learn about the crisis’

Political Tours, a company run by Nicolas Wood, a former New York Times Balkans correspondent, said the nine-day trip will look at the history of the protest movement that led to the recent revolution.

The tour will not visit Crimea, which is voting to split from the Ukraine and join Russia, but will take in the capital Kiev, as well as Kharkiv in the east of the country.

Mr Wood told Telegraph Travel that organising the trip was “a fairly spontaneous thing”, as he likes to react to current events when considering itineraries. Of the nine spaces available on the trip, he said five had already been taken.

“At first we look at life at a community level, in a village or provincial town, and it’s very important in this case to look at both ethnic Russians and Ukrainians,” he said.

Ukraine has seen political tension escalate in recent months, with violent protests leading to the ousting of the former president Viktor Yanukovich on February 22.

During the Political Tours trip, which costs £3,200 per person, excluding flights, clients will meet with a Russian journalist who used to work with the BBC and grassroots politicians. Mr Wood also has contact details for planned meetings with Ukrainian MPs.

“We have contacts and names but basically we work like journalists”, Mr Wood said, adding that he has an itinerary set up but that he can’t guarantee every aspect of it. “Political events change, people sometimes aren’t available, so we adapt to things,” he said. “The main thing is that we have the contacts and the ability to provide that sort of level of meetings.”

Mr Wood did not consider taking tourists to Crimea, where the Foreign Office advises against all travel and advises British nationals in the region to leave immediately.

“We wouldn’t do that, our policy is not to go anywhere where there is an active conflict,” Mr Woods said. He added that the tour would be visiting locations where protests have recently taken place, but that the situation would be assessed on a day-to-day basis.

Political Tours has made a name for itself offering trips to countries that have recently experienced unrest.

Last year, a Telegraph Travel writer went to South Africa with the company, and met the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and premier of the Western Cape, the only province not controlled by the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Led by the former editor of The Star newspaper in Johannesburg, the writer also visited the country’s national assembly.

Another trip in June this year, called “Tour Putin’s Russia”, will take clients to Moscow and Tatarstan, a republic that is a federal subject of Russia, to explore the roles of government and opposition, the media and industry in the country.

Other tour operators are still running trips to Ukraine. Regent Holidays, an Eastern Europe and Central Asia specialist, said this week that its tours were still going ahead.

Jon Baines Tours, which runs cultural and tailor-made tours, has a trip planned to Crimea for October. Jon Baines told Telegraph Travel that the trip was looking “unlikely”, but that the company would be monitoring the situation and following Foreign Office advice. “The safety of our travellers is paramount and we will be monitoring the situation on the ground”, he added.

The political situation in Crimea has worsened in recent days, as the killing of a Ukrainian soldier prompted the government to authorise its troops to open fire to defend themselves from Russian forces.

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What else to read about Ukraine

Thank you for your interest in Ukraine and we hope that you will love this country even more when you will visit it.

There are many exhibition centres and art galleries in the Kyiv city for lovers of contemporary art and modern style.

They are almost always open for tourists with sophisticated taste and are ready to share the bright impressions.

In Kyiv you can spend time with your family with fun and pleasure: hiking to museums, amusement and attractions park; participation in family festivals and events.

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