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The Caviar Diaries – Chapter 2: Ukraine (Charkiv) Visa Issues

What happens now? Find out in the second chapter of the Caviar Diaries!

I have been to the Ukraine a couple of times now and I just love the country and its people. As a bridge between the west and the east, I am sure it will have a very bright future, despite the fact that things are currently improving at the pace of a racing snail. Transition takes time, but with time the country will make an impact like the right fist of Dr. Steelhammer Vitali Klitschko. The young people of the Ukraine are highly educated, tough and hungry for something new. Two and a half years ago I was witness to that potential when I was guest lecturer for a two-week seminar about IT-Television at the Karasin University in Charkiv, the second biggest city and the educational hub of the country. This time I was invited as a media-expert to a conference on the topic of the upcoming football European Cup, which is being held in 2012 in both Poland and the Ukraine.

I received the invitation in early 2011 and I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it there. But then all of a sudden I was given this top-secret assignment, and now I really could – my new agenda was football and caviar. The Ukraine was important for me as well because I still hadn’t received my Russian visa. I have some friends, who work with people from the Russian Embassy in Charkiv. I kind of pre-negotiated how fast I could get my hands on a visa.

I received my letter of invitation from Stephanie at the Lomographic Embassy in St. Petersburg, but she was very doubtful that I would be able to get the visa in the Ukraine with such short notice. The first thing to do on my first day in Charkiv was to meet Wladimir from the embassy and to explain my matter.

Embassies and state offices in the former-Soviet Union are often a nightmare. You have to wait for hours and it’s often never clear what is required from you. The officers do not want to take responsibility or simply don’t know. But I was lucky and having a German passport often makes things slightly easier, which is ridiculous considering the history of my country, but these days our image abroad is quite good. So Wladimir in his little booth was kind to me and even exercised his best language skills with me. I mean, he still looked through his little window with the sort of frown that would make a KGB officer blush. But eventually he lost the frown and he started to try and speak German, which culminated in a fantastic copy of Monty Python sketch, and I was a part of it. Even more astonishing was that getting a Russian visa in the Ukraine was easier for me than in Germany. Even though I am the same guy with the same passport. It´s like buying “Chucks” in the US for 20 bucks and then in Europe for 80 Euros, or something like that. In my experience, it’s always better if you don’t ask questions when you’re in an embassy, so I was a lucky guy, paid the express-fee and said a hearty “Danke schön” to KGB operative Wladimir. Against all odds I now had my visa and had boisterously bagged an amazingly awkward travel brochure (because after all, you never know where the petro-rouble will take you in the future.)

Stay tuned for the next chapter of Caviar Diaries!

Caviar Diaries was written by Willie Schumann. Visit his LomoHome here

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written by jeanmendoza

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Italiano, Deutsch & Português.