People-to-People Diplomacy. To Russia w/ Love
01.10.18 - The U.S. State Dept. issued a warning titled "Russia – Level 3: Reconsider travel" that seems to generalize the same risk level over all of Russia; Moscow included (the city where most travelers go). Is traveling to Moscow as risky as to Mt. Elbrus?
The 10+ pager (at times seems to have been written before 2017*) doesn’t have a single good word about Moscow. E.g. 'The Moscow Metro is generally not accessible to persons with disabilities'. Disabled tourists hardly visit Moscow Metro's 200+ stations but the best ones of the Moscow Metro Tour ARE accessible. Is the warning a part of the sanctions plan against 'Moscow', its people?
01/21/18 Russia-1 TV channel aired an interview with the Kremlin´s spokeperson (claims never lies) who referred to US-Russian relations as a 'collapse'.
Same day US ambassador to Russia and his aides took a dip in the icy river near new New-Jerusalem monastery in Moscow region to try out an Orthodox Christian tradition for the Epiphany and 'better get to know Russia’s great culture from the inside'.
Next week Davos saw the hide-and-seek between Russian and US participants, according the head of Russian delegation.
03/15/18 UK accused Russia of poisoning Mr. Skripal, expelled 23 Russian diplomats.
03/16/18 B.Johnson, UK Foreign Minister: “We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of what is happening”.
03/17/18 Russia expelled 23 UK diplomats, shut UK Consulate in St. Petersburg and British Council, which said it was profoundly disappointed by the decision and remained committed to developing long-term people-to-people links with Russia.
Holy Week 2018, which symbolizes the last week of Jesus’ life, when He said “love one another as I have loved you” – 27 states followed the UK's suit, honored in Johnson’s speech: “to extend the hand of friendship to the Russian people…one day it will be possible to see ever greater commercial and cultural co-operation between us and the Russian people”. Russia symmetrically hit back, just before the Orthodox Holy Week.
Holy Saturday, a tourist from the UK: “My social media friendships with people in Russia become more and more precious to me as this madness continues...”
...Both in 2019 and 2020 World Travel Awards went to Moscow as World's Leading City Destination, Russia as World's Leading Cultural Destination, St. Petersburg as World's Leading Cultural City Destination. In 2020 the world was shaken by covid-19... but tit for tat still goes on. An announcement of the start of the joint program to assess COVID-19 vaccines combinations became one of the very few areas of cooperation even in New Normal.
There seems to be the need for more ambassadors (goodwill ambassadors) to step in - People to People ambassadors via tourism.
Why should the relations between the peoples of the West and Russia collapse? It shouldn't go on like like this. It reminds of Lenin's famous “the “upper classes” can't go on in the old way and the “lower classes” don't want to live in the old way”.
Ordinary people could join the relations through well-forgotten old people-to-people diplomacy. 40 years ago physicist Robert W. Fuller started traveling to the USSR to alleviate the Cold War. Isn't it high time people to people diplomacy started again?
Tourism is one of the forms of people to people diplomacy. If you traveled to Russia, please share your impressions of Russia and views how P2P diplomacy can prevent the tension – not between the governments of the both countries but between the people. If you plan to travel to Russia, pls share your ideas why you decided so. If you neither visited nor plan, please share you opinion how people to people diplomacy can ease tension between Rusian and US people, largest superpowers before real conflicts start.
Why is it a good time to visit Russia for people to people diplomacy after the covid pandemia is over?
(i.e. the point between the most optimistic (up to 2013) and pessimistic scenarios):
- the most pessimistic: new hypersonic / nuke arms race.
- a most pessimistic (NKorea.2): won't be fun to visit. P2P diplomacy can help to avoid.
- less pessimistic (back in the USSR): fun; fed security reps for each tourist or group.
- most optimistic: if Russian-US people's relations come back to the pre-2014 level and ₽ returns from the 2x dive, it'll be almost twice more expensive to travel to Russia.
People to People Diplomacy with no strings attached
Why do we consider tourism true people to people diplomacy? Historically public diplomacy in the USA, USSR and Russia has been targeted by government agencies. Tourism offers individuals opportunities for people to people diplomacy without being 'led' by these agencies and their agendas. The only stage when you can’t do without them is getting visas – time - consuming but bearable.
Tips to Travel to Russia for people to people diplomacy:
- Unless you are a military \ history buff, avoid Moscow on Victory Day (05/8-10)
- If you like Xmas, visit Moscow in early Jan. (till 01/8) for the 2nd Xmas (awesome)
- Try and / or cook Russian Cuisine - tasty, organic, healthy, traditional
- Live a day or 2 as Russians do: in a flat, going shopping, bbq, hiking, fishing
- Are you more interested in ballet or opera or in posh interiors of Bolshoi Theater? With hundreds of theaters in Moscow, why not visit them?
It was my dream as a child one day to visit Russia and to walk on the shores of Lake Baikal. I have traveled across Russia and Siberia. Moscow is a friendly city with so much to see, do, visit, experience, etc. And Vladivostok in the Far East is an amazing city as well, also Irkutsk or Lake Baikal in the middle of Siberia, the food, the warmth, the friendliness is always the same. I was told "We Russians Love America, we welcome Americans and we want to live in PEACE". All I can say Russian Hospitality is .....SUPERB....! When visiting Russia make time to stop by in Volgograd, a Miracle City. People are nice and friendly by the shores of the Volga River.
The photos and captions to them are courtesy of David.
I liked it [ Sergiev Posad Tour ] really much and all of us are sure that the tour was a good way to learn about the Russian culture. So keep going!
Dorien, Netherlands, 04.30.2018
I really enjoyed Moscow. So have my classmates. Job, Netherlands, 30.04.2018
In U.S. television shows/movies Russian characters are consistently the villains. It has been that way since the 1950s. How that is politically correct but the Frito Bandito does not escape me.
My wife and I recently spent 2,5 months in Russia. We stayed in a flat in Sevastopol for 1,5 months, shopped, hiked, relied on public transportation. We made many day trips from there to monasteries, caves, waterfalls and historic sites. We stayed at a resort in Alupka for 2 weeks, making more day trips from there. We went on a 1 week tour to Sochi, which included a day trip to Abkhazia. Several friends and family members joined us in Sevastopol and Alupka. We spent the remainder of our time in Moscow.
U.S. sanctions were evident in Crimea, though they presented more challenges to us (relying on dollars, credit/debit cards issued by U.S. banks, navigating to U.S. websites) than they did the local population (relying on rubles, credit/debit cards issued by Russian banks, navigating to Russian websites).
We did not see any "occupation troops" in 2-1/2 months. We did see hundreds of thousands of ordinary people going about their daily lives. We never felt ourselves to be in danger. We were "different" enough for the tour company in Sevastopol not to know the visa requirements for U.S. citizens traveling to Abkhazia. (A visa is not required if you are there for less than 24 hours as part of an organized tour.)
Visit a grocery. Include eggs, milk, sour cream and bread on your shopping list. It will be an education. It was not our first trip to Russia and it will not be our last.
Dave, US, 02.08.2018
It hurts to see how unfair the Russian people, sportsmen, actually everything and everybody with the word 'Russia' are treated. I am a fan of D Mail but after each article there is a forum - people from all over the world speak out - and this is how I know there is hope, there are smart, reasonable and decent people who don't want to be brain-washed to total imbeciles.
Veronika, US, 02.25.2018
We used Angel Taxis in February 2018 to take our students to Moscow City. I had agreed a price for the 8 seater minibus by email before I left the UK. The Angel taxi driver arrived on time to the airport and we had a pleasant journey to the capital. He dropped us off in the downtown at around 6pm and we agreed to be picked up at 10pm. The taxi operator contacted me and he was happy for me to ring him if we had any problems. We enjoyed our tour of Red Square but it got really cold and I rang to see if we could be picked up at 9pm instead. This was no bother and our taxi driver came to meet us and took us back.
I would like to recommend this to any traveller who needs a safe and reliable service to and from the airport. I felt safe and secure knowing that the Angel Taxi firm would help us as it was our first visit to Moscow.
Our main trip was a school exchange project “Challenge To Change” in Kirovsk where we are twinned with School 7. We spent a wonderful week with the staff and pupils of School 7 and were amazed at their warmth and hospitality. We hope that when School 7 visits us in Ireland next year they will receive the same great treatment!
Thank you to Angel Taxi for making our last day in Russia so special and safe!
Michelle, St Paul’s High School, Ireland, 02.28.2018
I visited Russia during the Summer of 2017. I had a wonderful time. I definitely intend to go back some day. Russia is a fantastic vacation destination. The sights were incredible. The people were friendly. The high level wrangling between the United States and Russia should not detour one from traveling to Russia.
Keith, USA, 03.18.2018
I love Russia, I particularly adore Siberia (Khabarovsk Krai region), the food is a little strange to Western tastes BUT we are particularly fond of Chebureks (Lol). The Russian people are awesome, we have travelled quite a lot in the past and I would say that Russians, once you accept that culturally they are more reserved with showing emotions than us Brits, are a warm, generous people, a lot of fun too. Politicians tend to be detached from everyday life, its us, the people who really matter. For centuries our two nations have 'sabre rattled' at each other, but there really IS a lot of respect between us. All the very best and, like I said before, this [discussion] is a great idea.
Tim, UK, 04.01.2018
We visited Moscow and St Petersburg for the first time last year. Any pre-conceptions we may have had about the country and its people were blown away from the moment were greeted by our taxi driver. Moscow is a fascinating city and its people genuinely friendly, warm and hospitable – a great city - St Petersburg and the Hermitage equally amazing. Perhaps all summed up best one evening when in search of a quiet restaurant to eat some local dumplings (which we had become quite fond of) we decided to try the house vodka. The Russian couple on the table adjacent to us informed us that there were better versions of the house vodka and proceeded to introduce us to the wide variety of flavours available. Neither nation being able to buy the last round for fear of offence – you can see there this encounter took us! Our hotel in St Petersburg was only found later by the clear guidance of my wife (far more controlled in her drinking habits than me) - thus proving you can’t drink a Russian under the table.
Gavin, UK, 04.02.2018
Recently we have only been in Moscow where Muscovites are as charming as ever. I despair of the negative press in the USA and UK, but westerners and western journalists like to have a baddie to villify and find Russia convenient in that role. Any visitors we have can't believe how different it is here to the picture painted in the west (for example they believe there is no food on the shelves because of sanctions).
Ros, UK, 04.02.2018