After the fall of communism, local governments opened many of the borders and welcomed tourists with open arms and relaxed visa restrictions. As mentioned in yesterday’s Red Corner post, however, a few stalwarts remained mired in KGB paranoia and choose to keep tight reigns on visiting westerners. Russia, for example, has not changed their visa policy since the Cold War. Visitors must still present a “Letter of Invitation” from a Russian citizen or company and proof of hotel accommodations for every night spent in the country in order to get a visa. This is a timely and expensive process.
Up until this last summer visitors to Ukraine had to do the same. But in August, the Ukrainian government finally announced a “visa free regime” for Americans (and many other nationalities as well). Now tourists can fly into Kiev as easily as any country in Western Europe and enjoy the onion-domed churches, exotic Black Sea coastline, and historic palaces of Yalta without the restrictive hassles of the Cold War era.