11,000-Kilometre Central Asian Expedition Ends in Astana

ASTANA – Russian journalist, photographer and member of the Russian Geography Society Vlad Minin completed on July 15 an 11,000-kilometer car trip from Moscow’s Red Square to Kazakhstan’s capital meant to promote Russian accomplishments and boost national ties.

Minin hoped the exhibition, called “From Russia,” would allow him to highlight Russia’s spiritual heritage and rich scientific and cultural potential, as well as allow him to meet and establish relationships with business and nongovernmental organizations.

His journey, which began in June, took him through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and finally to Kazakhstan. He made the journey in a Toyota Tundra from Devolro that he had specially customized in Miami, Florida, for the trip. The truck is equipped with heavy-duty bumpers, a 7-inch suspension lift and big all-terrain tires.

Russian foreign cultural centers and diplomatic missions along his route took part and Minin shared with those he met stories of Russian people who’ve achieved great things, as well as educated the public about Russia’s natural resources. Minin also hoped to discover how the Russian language is present in each of the countries he visited.

“Kazakhstan is home to a large number of Russian people. So, of course, a lot of Russian speaking people interact with Russian culture (in Kazakhstan). Certainly, Kazakhstan plays an important role in this region,” Minin said during an interview in one of the many towns along his journey.

Minin said he was fascinated by Kazakhstan’s vast open spaces, which are not separated by fences as they are in some other countries.

“For me, it is a spiritual tourism, spiritual meditation, when you can leave your consumer outlook on life, all your dreams of new microwave ovens, refrigerators, cars and just head to the steppe, to be alone with nature, God. … There are only few such places left now,” he said.

Minin added that for him the most memorable place in Kazakhstan was the Aktau-Beineu route in the western part of the country.

“Its nature [of Aktau – Berneu] has unexplored opportunities for car (travel).The people who live there and the terrain are very unusual and attractive for me as a traveler,” he said.

Minin is well known for organizing expeditions which he has been doing on and off since 2004. Now that this expedition is at an end, Minin hopes to be able to sell his customized truck in Kazakhstan for $100,000.

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