10 Pieces of Real Travel Advice for Visiting Crimea

Ok, I’ve spent months in Crimea since it became Russia again, in 2014, and filmed hundreds of videos of reportage. Based on the fact that it reflected the will of the vast majority of Crimeans, after the fall-out from Euromaidan in Ukraine, I recognised, and Graham Phillips Crimeasupport Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

However, this it not a political piece. There’s a mass of information online about Crimea, and much of it is clear false information, warnings about the ‘dangers’ of visiting Crimea ‘annexation’, ‘occupation’, and so on.

Crimea is one of the world’s most beautiful places to visit, and I know given the amount of people contacting me, more people are indeed looking to visit it. However, it’s in quite a unique position, and there are a few considerations, so, here we go, with 10 things you’ll need to know (written presuming you’re a western person.

1. There are no cash machines which take western cards. So you’ll need to take all the money for your trip with you. The last cash machine is at Krasnoarmeiski, before you get the ferry, but, you’d be best off stocking up on wedge before that.

2. Due to sanctions, some things don’t work in Crimea. If you have a UK, EU number you may well find it cannot connect to a roaming service, so you’ll need to purchase a number in Crimea. Crimea has its own phone network, separate from mainland Russia, Crimeastreet2so, you’ll need to purchase a local MTS card. There’s 3G, even some 4G. All internet sites work as normal, and you can even use main booking sites to book apartments, hotels in Crimea. All the apps you have should work, but there may be an issue downloading new ones, you can use your credit card to book things online there – all good.

3. Don’t even think of going to Crimea via Ukraine, as is the official advise. It’s a nonsense. Kiev have to ‘give you permission’, but you still need a Russian visa, and more, have to pass through the Ukrainian ‘blockpost border’, adding hassle, stress, and perhaps other. Get a single-entry Russian visa, and you can book a flight to Simferopol airport!

4. It’s better to put what you’ve read in the western press, by western governments out of your mind before you enter Crimea. You can find people there who will freely tell you that they are ‘pro-Ukrainian’, and want to be with Ukraine again. But, they’re a small minority. You can find a lot of people who generally would like Crimea to be as prosperous as it previously was, but speak to people there and you’ll see for yourself that the vast majority of Crimeans supported, and support reunification with Russia.

There’s no sign of tension, or repression of Crimean Tatars. You will come across many in your travels in Crimea. Crimean Tatars are, in my experience, a warm, friendly people. A lot of restaurants are Crimean Tatar, they run many businesses. Speak to them, ask them yourselves how life is for them. You will hear different opinions, some for Russia, some for Ukraine (though again, a minority), many non-political and simply for whatever will give them the best quality of life.

5. You will find people in Crimea who speak excellent English, and many have some level of English. However, it’s by no means universal, and at this moment in time you could even say that Crimea is not especially orientated towards English-speaking visitors. Not every restaurant will have an English-language menu, and while your waiter may well speak English, it’s not a guarantee. Speaking some Russian, or having a Russian-speaking friend with you, would definitely help.

6. Despite the political tensions between the west, and Crimea, I’ve never encountered, or heard of any problems encountered by western visitors because of where they come from. On the contrary, Crimeans are more than likely to roll out the red carpet for a western visitor. Most tourists there are from Russia, and actually many have come to Crimea for the first time. In my experience, you’ll also find them of a friendly disposure towards you!

7. Despite what governments etc try to insinuate, you are not breaking any laws by visiting Crimea, with the exception of Ukrainian law. So if you go to Crimea, and post selfies from there etc, then you may have some issues if you try to visit Ukraine, but, that’s all. You’ll have no stamp in your passport other than a Russian one. You’ve broken no laws, apart from ‘Ukrainian laws’, whatever they are these days.

Graham Crimea reportage8. Prices in Crimea are pretty much what they are on mainland Russia. For a UK visitor, you’ll get around 70-75 roubles to the pound now, down from a year ago, but it still makes Crimea a comparatively inexpensive tourist destination. A beer by the beach for £1.50, sit-down lunch in a seaview restaurant for less than £5 all do-able, even in Yalta at peak season. There are pricier ‘tourist traps’, and that goes back to the above, that it’s better to know some Russian!

9. If you’re driving, you’ll see a massive ‘road rehabilitation’ project going on (and there’s actually infrastructure being upgraded everywhere), but it’s not reached everywhere yet, so on some roads, get ready for a bumpy ride. If you drive there in summer, you could be in line for a few hours wait for the 25-minute ferry crossing. And in Crimea itself, particularly Yalta, traffic can be heavy at peak times.

Crimea in general, some of it is ‘Russian standard’ – ie what you’d find in Russia, infrastructure etc to a high level. Quite a lot is still ‘Ukrainian standard’, no offence, but you get the idea. This ferry video, btw, in Russian, but again, sure you’ll get the idea –

10. There really is an incredible amount of things to do in Crimea. You can have a beach holiday in Yalta, Koktobel or if you want a sandy beach, Evpatoria. There are vineyards, safari parks, palaces, mountains, festivals, epic open-air museums, bike shows, concerts, there’s the black sea fleet of Sevastopol, always something happening by the waterfront or in the square there, Yalta is absolutely buzzing, Balaklava is mind-blowingly beautiful, Taigan is the best safari park you could ever visit… where to base Graham Crimeayourself will be your decision. Simferopol itself is an appealing city, and although it’s not by the sea itself, or especially tourist-orientated, it’s a mid-point between a lot of places which are.

The most popular places to stay are Sevastopol, and Yalta, but if you want to stay in a number of places, you can find hotels, or apartments anywhere in Crimea – Alustha, Feodosiya, Kerch, Sudak, Koktobel, and more, and you’ll find something to do everywhere in Crimea. So, if you were thinking of going for a week, I’d recommend two, and even then you are just getting started. Not to sound like the Holiday show, but that’s exactly as it is.

And why should you believe me? Because I’ve got no angle here other than to tell you the truth of how things are. And I’ve spent a lot of time there. As for the rest, be sure that most all of what you read about Crimea in the west is by those who haven’t even been there – and certainly do have an angle –

But, if they want to visit, let them follow this advice, and I wish you all a great time! Graham

Brit in Crimea Film: Updates

I’m happy to say that work with the film itself is moving along well! I also, along with Les Scott, the Brit in Crimea himself, recently did an interview on Radio Sputnik –

https://sputniknews.com/radio_hard_facts/201704191052355832-what-happens-when-you-take-a-brit-to-crimea/

And you can watch the behind-the-scenes look at that here!

Plus, a little bonus clip here:

Lot more to come!

A Graham Newsletter (#25) East of Ukraine Nostalgia, Crimea, Latvia, DPR Tourism

It’s been both a week of intense activity in Donbass – from the first coal, and not only, trading with Russia, new DPR-designed roadheaders (I’ve been covering that all on my Twitter), and, sadly, continued Ukrainian shelling (see Patrick Lancaster, on the scene, for full coverage of that).

Also, I can say it’s been a week of some nostalgia for myself, as this week, 3 years ago, I’d set off from Odessa to see the situation in the east of Ukraine, as it was then, for myself. Driving, sleeping in the car for a few hours many nights to save time, covering as much ground as possible and, for my own embryonic YouTube channel as it was, filming reportage of things, just as they were! This week I did a few pull-togethers of reportage, here on the Truth Speaker, of things as they were –

Click here for full reportage, Donetsk, March 12th, 2014, here’s a couple: 

From Kharkov, March 14th: 

And, of course, Crimea, March 16th:

Of course, looking back to Latvia, from 2016, it’s a difference form of ‘nostalgia’ – I’d gone to spend a month reporting from Latvia, yet on the 3rd day, the authorities objected to my coverage of the march there honouring Nazism, deported me, banned for 3 years.

Here is my reportage from that day, March 16th, 2016 – 

They then pursued me with various letters describing my ‘misdemenours’ (in Latvian, so I really had no idea what they were saying), culminating in an 8-page document, which, after listing all my supposed wrong-doings (I asked people at a march honouring Nazism why they were doing that), then said they wanted 150 Euros from me!

Things all got a bit surreal on March 16th itself, when Ukrainian media, and not only, wrote the story of my being detained, and deported, at the Waffen SS veteran march, as if it had been March 16th, 2017 rather than 2016!  Groundhog Day…

This led to my receiving a lot of worried messages, and my own wondering if this was Latvia’s latest attempt for 150 Euros from me!

As it was, I was far away from Latvia. And indeed, being a tourist – in London, no less, and here I present you with my latest reportage from there, as a ‘DPR tourist’, no less, featuring a couple of special guests!

 There’s a bit more to come from the UK, not only London, and then, I’ll be on the road back to Donbass, via some interesting places en route!

Once more, a massive thanks to all of you who support my work, and make all kinds of reportage possible, in all kinds of places! The main thing is, it’s always independent, objective, and completely crowdfunded! To be a part, click here –

https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

Of course, your support also goes towards here, the Truth Speaker, and the many articles, providing information, debunking fakes, as here –

‘Russian Tanks in Ukraine’: Tony Blair’s ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ for our times

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/14/russian-tanks-in-ukraine-tony-blairs-weapons-of-mass-destruction-for-our-times/

And don’t worry, none of your support goes towards propping up the Latvian economy 😉

Look out for lots more to come soon! Best for now!

Crimea: March 16th, 2014 – As It Really Was

Graham Phillips

3 years ago, I was living in Odessa, however I’d embarked on a tour of east Ukraine, as it then was, covering some 5000km in a week, at the wheel, to see for myself how things were, at a time when it felt like everything was falling apart in Ukraine. More about that here –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/12/my-reportage-from-donetsk-12th-march-2014/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/14/my-video-reportage-from-kharkov-14th-march-2014/

The culmination was Crimea, on referendum day, and here’s my video reportage from that day!

Arriving: 

A polling station: 

The streets of Simferopol: 

The parliament itself, Simferopol:

A look at Russia, and Ukraine, in Crimea: 

Speaking to Crimean Tatars – 

And, to finish this on another electoral note, another polling station:

And that’s just how it was! It was a referendum which supported the overwhelming wishes of Crimeans. Some Crimean Tatars were unhappy, and I covered that, yet their leaders, media, had told them to feel this way.

3 years on, it’s a different story – Survey claims most Crimean Tatars satisfied with living in Russia – and as for the referendum, in polling stations everything was in order, there were no ‘little green men’, there was no ‘voting under the gun’ – that’s all nonsense from people who weren’t there, and don’t want to know the truth. I went there, just because I wanted to know the truth, and for you to know it too.

10 Reasons pro-Ukrainians don’t like me….

Graham Phillips

Anyone interacting with me on Twitter invariably finds themselves swamped by spammers levelling all sorts of abuse at me. These accounts are, as they would call themselves ‘pro-Ukrainian’. So, why don’t ‘pro-Ukrainians’ like me? Here are 10 reasons:

1. They want you to think that Euromaidan was the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ etc, but I reported the truth about Euromaidan – 

2. They can’t just claim my reportage is ‘Russian propaganda’ (as is their habit), without sounding a bit ridiculous. I had a short, fairly acrimonious relationship with RT in late 2013 to July 2014, did some work for the Zvezda channel until February 2015. So, for over 2 years, I’ve had no affiliations with any media outlet, from any country – my journalism is real, independent journalism.

3. I’ve been there from the start, reporting real information from places they wanted you to believe disinformation from . Euromaidan, Donbass, Crimea.

4. I’ve stayed with these places, bringing you the stories they don’t want you to see. The reality of Crimea (in which I’ve filmed hundreds of videos of reportage, made several films). I’ve extensively covered Donbass and told the story they don’t want you to know – Ukrainian killing has killed thousands of civilians there –

5. Almost no other western correspondent has reported any of the above. And ‘pro-Ukrainians’ are enraged that I have, and do.

6. People watch my workover 60 million views on my own YouTube channel alone, from almost every country in the world which has internet.

7. I produce a lot – over 4500 videos on my YouTube channel, plus articles, and more.

8. I’ve never been caught out in a lie, or fabrication. I don’t do that. There’s nothing to discredit my work.

9. The stakes are high. ‘Pro-Ukrainians’ want to present an unblemished image of their country, to speed their ‘European integration’, get more IMF funding, and on…

10. But, my work punctures that carefully constructed illusion of Ukraine. It reports the truth, just as it is. And, ‘pro-Ukrainians’ don’t like the truth. In fact many of them even loathe it. And if you’ve interacted with me on Twitter, they may well be trolling you now!

A Graham Newsletter (#23) New Reportage Coming, Crowdfunding SOS

Graham Phillips

Along with recent video reportage from the UK, and London (where I’ll be filming special reportage to mark Women’s Day tomorrow), as well as many articles here on the Truth Speaker, I’m pleased to announce I’ll be filming reportage from a special, surprise, place this month, before setting off back to Donbass, via reportage from across Europe, and Serbia en route!

As you know, all of my reportage is crowdfunded, and there’s now only a few hours to go of my latest crowdfunder, here – 

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/3-months-of-objective-independent-journalism#/

And it’s quite a bit below target, so if you can be involved in keeping my completely independent journalism alive, now’s the time!

Of course some of you have made donations by Paypal
– https://www.paypal.me/grahamwphillips

So, we don’t need to reach the full 100% on Indiegogo, but there’s a way to go! Here’s a reminder at some of what your support has made possible recently:

Having a closer look at the Ukrainian Embassy in London, while investigating a murder in Ukraine:

A visit to what transpired to be a Ukrainian propaganda event, at the LSE – 

Many articles here, on the Truth Speaker: 

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/05/crimea-3-years-on-in-tweets-and-article/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/06/boris-isnt-fooling-british-people-anymore/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/03/crimea-russia-and-to-rage-against-the-uk-propaganda-machine/

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2017/03/01/boris-johnson-and-ukraine-bingo-the-hit-new-game/

And I’ve also released the first bonus video clips of our upcoming film, A Brit in Crimea (on his holidays), featuring ‘Brits in Rostov’, to coincide with Manchester United playing there this week, and all the scaremongering that’s already started in the western media about that. More on that theme to come: 

So, much more to come in general, from lots of places, and it’s all possible thanks to your support! 

Crimea 3 Years On, in Tweets (and Article)

Graham Phillips

3 years ago, I’d just returned to Odessa, where I lived, from my first trip to Crimea. I went there, at no one’s behest, working for no one, quite simply, to see for myself the truth of what was happening there.  Here are a look back at some tweets, and an article, from the time, just as it was.

In February, I was watching Crimea, tweeting about Crimea, as the peninsula rose up against Maidan, and the unelected government it put in place in Ukraine:

screenshot-1273 screenshot-1276 screenshot-1280 screenshot-1281 screenshot-1284
But, I always believe in going somewhere for yourself, so it was, on February 27th, of my own volition, neither working for anyone, nor being paid by anyone for it, I set off the some 460km from Odessa, to Simferopol!

The next few tweets up, and a few things to note, I wrote a lot of blogs on the go, and refer to them here, that site I let the domain expire, read more here. Also, I’m trying to cover every angle, because there’s no question there was Russian military intervention in Crimea, and I reported on that. Yet, when I went to Crimea, I saw that any such action entirely reflected the wishes of the vast majority of the people there. Before I went, I was still using the hashtag #Ukraine for Crimea, because, like any western person, and one who’d lived in Ukraine for 2 years before, before actually going there myself, I indeed thought of Crimea as Ukraine –

screenshot-1288 screenshot-1290As for getting into Crimea, by the way, despite what was being put out at the time at how ‘inaccessible‘ Crimea was, it was really easy to enter, even in a car with no registration plates as I had (they’d recently been stolen).
screenshot-1355

And when there, this is what I saw, and tweeted:

screenshot-1356 screenshot-1357This, on the way from Simferopol to Sevastopol:

screenshot-1358screenshot-1360

And in Sevastopol itself, and the large concert taking place in the square:

screenshot-1359

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screenshot-1362 screenshot-1363 screenshot-1364 screenshot-1365 screenshot-1366 screenshot-1368 screenshot-1371 screenshot-1372

At this time in Crimea, it was important, as a journalist to note two things – there was indeed, clearly Russian military presence there. Yet, that reflected the wishes of the overwhelming majority of people there.
screenshot-1374screenshot-1377screenshot-1378
So, this time 3 years ago, I’d already returned from Crimea, written, and had published, an article for Politico magazine about my time there. Ok, I didn’t choose the title, or the photo, and they added the bit about Crimean Tatars themselves, however, apart from that, it pretty much came out as it was.

And, Crimea was pretty much the end of that time where people still entertained the concept of the objective journalist. If you reported, as I reported – i.e. things as they actually were, you got put in the ‘pro-Russia‘ camp. But incidentally, those who reported the other side, well a few were there, such as Daniel Sandford  of the BBC and Simon Ostrovsky of Vice, and they dutifully did the job they’d been sent to do – make sure the position of western governments was represented in mass media.

Yet most of those crying ‘annexation’ etc were simply not there. I know, for I was there, and they were nowhere to be seen. What I saw, from Crimea at the end of February, start of March 3 years ago, is all above in tweets, and article.