Send me to the Gulag – Fund the 2020 Central Asia Tour

In 2016 we went to Ukraine. In 2017 we went to Georgia and Armenia. In 2018 to Jordan and Israel. And in 2019 to Zimbabwe. All have in common a recent history of having been influenced (or outright conquered) by the Soviet Union.

In keeping with this tradition of gathering knowledge and wisdom and then delivering it to you as stories, in 2020 we submit to y’all the proposal for a Central Asia Tour. The video above gets into the details about the itinerary and the minimum things we expect to get from the tour. This article is focused on the financial details. Not all expenses are thoroughly detailed – only those funded through the fundraiser.

So, without further ado…

For consistency, all expenses are converted in USD at the median exchange rate for the period between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, 2019. This is also because all donations are converted to USD as it’s the working currency for almost all operations of this Network.

In places where there is price variation (e.g. trains in Central Asia) – the maximal option is listed. The list represents the minimum costs.

1. Cluj Napoca – Budapest (round trip)

Train: $40

Housing: $60

Food: $20

2. Budapest – Nur Sultan

Flight: $410 (round trip, all fares included)

Visa cost Kazakhstan: $0

3. Nur Sultan, Kazakhstan

Housing: $65

Food: $50

Transport in the city: $15

4. Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Nur Sultan – Karaganda Train: $20

Housing: $75

Transport around the area: $50

Museum and other fees: $10

Food: $40

Books and newspapers: $50

5. Almaty, Kazakhstan

Karaganda – Almaty train: $20

Ancient cities tour: $60

Big Lake tour: $35

Housing: $60

Food: $30

6. Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Almaty-Bishkek transport: $80 (round-trip)

Kyrgyzstan visa: $52

Ala-Archa national park: $15

Books and newspapers: $50 (minimum)

Museum and other fees: $20

Food: $30

Housing: $65

7. Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan visa: $40

Transport Almaty-Tashkent: $45

Museums and other fees: $20

Housing: $60

Food: $40

8. Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Train from Tashkent to Samarkand: $20

Museums and other fees: $20

Housing: $70

Food: $40

Books: $30

9. Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Samarkand – Bukhara train: $20

Museum fees: $10

Housing: $70

10. Other

Trains from Samarkand to Nur-Sultan: $100

Health insurance: $40

Equipment insurance: $20

On-the-fly consumables (batteries, memory cards, etc): $80

Exchange rate fees: $100 (maximum)

Unexpected expenses: $300 (minimum)

Total: $2,547

This number represents the absolute minimum in order for the tour to take place. The total cost will be somewhere in the vicinity of $4000 which will serve as the maximal threshold for this fundraiser.

Given past experience, even in worst case scenarios, the cost goes somewhere between the two extremes. Any excess will be redirected towards fulfilling the wishlist or towards funding another project in 2020 (possibly the Three Seas Initiative Summit in Tallinn, Estonia).

Minimums and deadlines

The tour is due to take place sometime between July 20th and August 22 and it will last 25 days. This means that plane tickets should be purchased no later than April 15, 2020

As such, if the fundraiser doesn’t reach to at least $1500 by April 10, 2020, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects.

If the fundraiser doesn’t reach at least $2500 by July 1, 2020, the tour is cancelled and all collected funds redirected to other projects. Of course, if it will be $2420 on July 1, it will be fine. But too much leeway downwards will lead to cancellation – because by July 5, most of the housing should be booked and paid for already.

Anything beyond $4000, as well as any remaining shekel after the tour, will be redirected towards other projects or to fulfilling the wishlist.

The state of the fundraiser will be updated regularly on the main page of the website and semi-regularly on the Youtube channels.

If this convinces you, head over to the Donate page and pitch in. Every dollar counts!

Getting ready for the Poland tour

Just as I’m writing these words, I’m wrapping up the work intended for the Bucharest tour, which started over a week ago and included 5 on-camera interviews and a lot of off-camera work which, hopefully, will produce some of the results intended within the next 15 months or so.

Towards the end of this month starts the tour in Poland with similar intentions: to rally up the troops, consolidate the Network and improve the overall level of knowledge. We will do in Poland what we did in Bucharest – except it will be in English.

The initial reason for which this was scheduled is to provide coverage from the events which will mark the 75th anniversary since what history now knows as the “Warsaw uprising”.

While we will, of course, be present on August 1 in Warsaw for that (just like we were during the Independence March last November at Poland’s centennial), the purpose is a bit wider than that. In addition to interviews (both on the record and off the record), on the menu there is some exploring as well into areas of thought and history that is still, to this day, rather underexplored in the English language.

All of this will happen, for sure, but you can help with the how question.

Some of the friends of the Freedom Alternative Network in Poland will help with some of the aspects of the trip but a portion of the financing can still be made better.

At this point in time, the choice is this: Either some of the new equipment purchases are postponed in order to do the Poland tour as planned, or we can have both if enough of y’all give shekalim.

Just like there was one centennial last November, the same is true now: the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising happens only once – on August 1. So it’s an opportunity that cannot be postponed and ought not to be missed for our general objectives of knowledge and wisdom.

So, with that in mind, I shall lean again on y’all to consider an extra shekel for this endeavor. Ideally, we do both: no investment gets postponed and the Poland trip goes as scheduled.

For those who follow the Romanian language channel, results of the current trip will be available within the next two weeks and prior to the departure to Poland.

If time will allow it, I’ll try to get some of those in the backlog also published. The good news is that the Poland trip will also be the last one for the year which will be lengthy and tiresome. But, more on that in a few days after I get back home and put things in order.

So, with all of that being said, thank you all for your patience and support, please consider a shekel for this particular effort and… I will see you all soon.

Cheers! 👌🏻

3SI Summit journey starts

Although the 3SI Summit debuts in 4 days, for those of us not funded by taxpayers (of any country), the business starts in a few hours. As we write this, the final decisions are made on what equipment we can carry with us and what will have to be left at the home base.

Watch coverage from the 2018 3SI Summit in Romanian and in English.

We will be traveling by train and we’ll try to record logs (just like we did last year) both from the trip and on site. Editing and uploading them will be a different story, of course.

Depending on the technological capabilities on site, we will try to do a live-text coverage on the dedicated page. There is also a dedicated page in Romanian.

Unlike last year, we will not rely on social media during the event itself, but publish in real-time only on the website – while on social media we will link only the pages mentioned above. Well, that’s the plan anyway. We don’t rely too much on detailed plans because nobody can know for sure beforehand how things will look like in the field.

If the technological capabilities will not be satisfactory, the dedicated pages will be used for centralizing all the coverage from this event.

There will be other articles on the topic as well. Those will also be linked back on the appropriate page (depending on the language used).

Once again we wish to thank all of those who have donated to our fundraiser and made this possible for our small network. We hope we will be able to surpass the level of coverage offered last year as well as offer more analysis than last time.

Tschüss!

Intermarium/3SI trip fundraiser: Complete

Back in early February we asked for additional funding from those of you who enjoy our coverage on geopolitical issues in order to get a Freedom Alternative accredited presence at this year’s Three Seas Initiative (Intermarium) Summit in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Today, more than a month before the summit per se, the minimum amount of funding necessary for two people to attend on our behalf has been raised.

The exact date of the summit has yet to be announced by the organizer (the Office of the President of Slovenia) but it will be in the first half of June.

Any extra shekel will be directed to new equipment purchases and/or to unforeseen expenses with the Summit (keep in mind that we only required the minimum amount just so we can send two people there).

Thank you all for your support! We’ll keep y’all posted.