Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ukraine's Army Wants You ... For a Holiday

(ABC News) Ukraine’s cash-strapped military has been looking long and hard for fresh sources of revenue — and hit upon a whole new brand of tourism. In what it says is a first in the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s armed forces are throwing open 11 military training grounds and three air bases, inviting fee-paying tourists, and offering them the chance to play soldiers. From AK-47 assault rifles to T-72 tanks and Mig-29 fighter jets, Ukraine is offering anyone with money to burn the opportunity to fire, drive and fly the same military equipment that during the Cold War was on hair-trigger alert for a NATO attack.
Today’s tourists are hard to surprise with anything, so we decided to offer something really spicy — military tourism,” said Hryhory Zhorov, the head of the Alaris travel agency which, with arms exporter Ukrspetsexport and the Defense Ministry, is organizing the project.
He said they hoped to accommodate 1,000 well-heeled travelers every month. Flanked by senior generals, Zhorov showed reporters around one of the bases, Desna, 40 miles northeast of the capital, Kiev. The generals spared no effort, as well as cartridges and artillery rounds, to impress an army of invited reporters in order to promote the sprawling base, covering an area of 810 square miles. Armored vehicles roared through picturesque pine groves, which echoed to a thunder of small arms fire.
One young woman journalist stunned officers by driving a modern T-80 tank after only brief instructions. “It was great! I had never driven even a car, but today I drove a tank!” she said, emerging from the turret of the 1,200-horsepower monster. But the freebie was soon over, and future excursions to Ukrainian military sites will cost each traveler a tidy sum.
Alaris’ Web site (www.alaris.com.ua) says a one hour flight as a co-pilot in the supersonic fighter Mig-29 will cost $8,500, while one of the same duration in the Su-27 ground attack jet will be $9,600. Surface weapons are also expensive. It costs $400 to drive 4 miles in a T-72 battle tank, or $250 to test drive the BMP-2 armored personnel carrier. A shot from a sniper rifle will cost “just” $20, while a round for a Soviet-made RPG-7 hand-held grenade discharger is a more expensive thrill at $50 per shot.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tymoshenko's husband seeking political asylum in Czech Republic

06 January 2012 (Radio of Ukraine) Yulia Tymoshenko's husband Oleksandr was forced to leave Ukraine and request the Government of the Czech Republic for political asylum due to the intense pressure on the opposition leader through her family. This was disclosed by the "Liberty" radio. According to the newspaper, a relevant request was filed by Oleksandr Tymoshenko as early as the last days of 2011. The newspaper also notes that Minister of Interior of Czech Republic Jan Kubitse on January 4 discussed the matter with Czech Republic Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.