11 September 2015

Follow me........

If anyone wants to continue reading my personal blog, it is here:

I will concentrate on running our business in Cyprus:
Cyprus Lifestyle Media

and Cyprus Universal Services

03 September 2015

British Business Club in Ukraine (BBCU) - Change of Ownership

This is my last blog for the BBCU.

Having moved to Cyprus on a permanent basis and with plans to return to the UK later, I decided that the BBCU needed a new owner.

It has been an interesting journey for me and the BBCU during the past 12 years. The BBCU started life as a networking club where we brought together enthusiastic business minded people every month to share information about developments in Ukraine. We had some great speakers and witnessed interesting presentations from both British and Ukrainian people. Our club membership started to grow. Some well-known politicians and business leaders both British and Ukrainian were among our speakers. Although we always tried to choose a different hotel for each monthly event, perhaps the best meetings we had were thanks to the generosity of the team at INTER TV. The roof top location at their offices on Turhenievska Street proved to be a popular meeting place.

The boom years of 2002 to 2009 in Ukraine were exciting times for all involved. The property sector was most interesting when prices for residential property become more expensive than in Western Europe and rental prices for commercial property were crazy.

We branched out and offered teaching and training services, (those first Saturday morning Speaking Club meetings were very well attended). At one stage we had 16 teachers serving our members and clients around Kyiv and we quickly developed a good reputation with many businesses. We also provided a special VIP one-to-one English teaching service to business leaders and professionals which included over the years a select few Ukraine Government Ministers. The majority of these people now speak near perfect English.

Later we provided outsourcing services for small to medium size foreign businesses in Ukraine which included accounting, banking, HR admin and general support to help take away the headache of the over burdensome ‘Ukraine paperwork system’.  Unfortunately, the country still has a long way to go to lift the burden of what can only be described as ‘aggressive demand’ from most government agencies/departments. Private sector businesses still employ accountants who spend most of their time providing information to meet government demands.

We also played an active part in promoting golf to Ukraine and helping to introduce ‘pay as you play’ with our partnership with Royal Kyiv Golf Club. Our golf days for beginners were entertaining and great fun.

The downturn in the economy of Ukraine as a result of events since late 2013 and the whole of 2014 led to many businesses struggling to survive. The year 2015 has been a very difficult year for Ukraine and I sincerely hope that the situation improves during 2016.

Therefore I am happy to announce that the BBCU now has a new owner. He is a long time British expat who has been living and working in Ukraine for many years and has various business interests in Ukraine. He will be making his own announcements along with a re-launch of the BBCU later in 2015.

I wish him the very best.

30 May 2015

THE CYPRUS ROUTE for British Citizens

British Citizens
Exercise your EU Treaty Rights
A guide for British nationals married to Non-EU nationals who intend to enter the UK legally using EU laws
A Step-by-Step Guide
Detailed instructions and advice
Hyperlinks to important documents   
Application forms explained
The Cyprus Route is a 50 page six step guide for British citizens who would like to exercise their European Union treaty rights under EU law. It explains how a British citizen can take advantage of these laws and go to live for a period of time in another EU country with their Non-EU spouse and then enter the UK legally avoiding the restrictive rules imposed by the British government against its own people.
In addition to the six detailed steps the guide contains helpful information about Cyprus including:
·         Temporary Accommodation
·         Property Rental
·         Cities in Cyprus
·         Employment Opportunities
·         Taxes
·         Living Expenses
·         Travel & Transport
·         Telephones
·         Television
·         Internet
·         Eating Out
·         Languages
·         News in English
·         Healthcare & Medical Services
·         Children & Schools
·         Supermarkets
·         Banks
·         Insurance
·         Religion
·         British Sovereign Base Area
·         ‘The Cyprus Problem

Available now on-line. Only EUR 19.00
Order your copy today via

23 May 2015

The Cyprus Route - How British Citizens and their Non-EU Families can return to the UK

The Cyprus Route – (Surinder Singh route) for spouses and families of British citizens

This is an immigration route, named after the person who filed a court case, can be used by non-EU family members of British citizens to secure a UK visa – but under EU law. Many thousands of family members of EEA citizens, (Non-EU Citizens) are applying using the European law. This is where they get an EEA Family Permit for 6 months outside the UK and then a 5 year Residence Card when they return to the UK.

EU citizens enjoy ‘Freedom of Movement’ around the whole of the EU. An EU citizen can enter the UK together with his/her Non-EU spouse/family.
What does it mean to be an EU citizen? Any person who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen.  EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace it.
EU citizenship gives every EU citizen a number of important rights, including:
the right to move freely around the European Union and settle anywhere within its territory.

Many people are surprised when they discover that this does not apply to family members of UK citizens, only to those of EU (non-UK) citizens. Why? Because there has to be ‘movement’ between the EU member states. We know that many laws in the EU conflict with British laws.
There is one way around it: the Surinder Singh route. It allows non-EU family members of British citizens to apply for a UK visa using the European law, as opposed to applying under the UK Immigration Rules. Let’s take a most common situation: a spouse of a British citizen. Under the Surinder Singh route spouses of UK citizens can apply for a Family Permit and/or Residence Card under the EU law and not under UK Immigration Rules.

Applying under the EU law means no English test and no financial requirements (The British citizen does not have to prove an income of £18,600 as introduced by the British Government in 2012). Plus an EEA Family Permit (if coming from outside the UK) is FREE, compared to the £1500 fee for those applying under the UK Immigration Rules – ILR Visa (Indefinite Leave to Remain) (fees as at 6 April 2015). Getting a UK Residence Card for 5 years is the objective and costs only £55.

Using the SS route, there are conditions to meet.
1) A British citizen must go and work in another EU member country (or be self-employed) before returning to the UK. This is how there is ‘Movement within the EU’. 
2) For a minimum period of 3 months but better to stay longer. It could take up to 6 months.

3) The British citizen’s ‘Centre of life’ must have been transferred to that other EU member country. There is no exhaustive list to prove it, but examples are: renting a place to live or buying a property (as opposed to staying at a hotel), getting a job or setting up a business in that country.

4) In the case of Non-EU spouses, both UK and non-EU spouse must have lived together in that EU member country and been married BEFORE returning to the UK. E.g. a British man already married to a woman from Ukraine could go to live and work in Cyprus.

5) EU law considers a child to be a 'child' until the age of 20 (i.e. under 21 yo) and not under 18yo as under the Immigration Rules.

6) Parents and grandparents have to be dependent, which means financially relying on the Sponsor for their essential living needs. This is very different from the Immigration Rules (i.e. a UK law, not EU law) which only allow to bring a parent to the UK if he/she requires long-term day-to-day care and such care is not available in the country of residence (or not affordable).

7) Dependency under the EU law is that of fact, the reasons for dependency are not relevant. For example, if a family member can work but chooses not to and depend on an EEA national instead, this would be acceptable (in principal).

8) The European law differentiates between ‘family members’ and ‘extended family members’. The difference is very important! For example, children or grandchildren under 21 y.o. (not under 18 y.o. as under the British law) of an EEA national or of his/her spouse, so step-children can qualify as well. Those who are aged 21yo or older can be considered if they are dependent.

Please contact Cyprus Universal Services for ADVICE on how to proceed further.

21 May 2015

British Citizens separated from their families.- VIDEO

Many British citizens with a spouse from Ukraine or Russia will identify with this video.
A powerful and moving documentary showing the break-up of families as a result of new British laws introduced in 2012. It is widely known that an EU citizen (Not a British citizen) and their non-EU spouse/family can enter the UK under EU freedom of movement laws. But a British citizen and his/her Non-EU spouse does not have the same rights.
Gethin Jones has been married to his Russian wife for 17 years and they have two children. His Russian wife Elena is still in Moscow and cannot be reunited with her husband and daughters. They own their own house in Wales and Gethin has his own business but has not reached the required income level set by the British government. (See video 06:22 to 11:56)
Sally Piasecki is a British citizen married to Walter an American citizen. They have been married for 20 years, see their story here.

The difference between UK and EU law means that a British citizen and their non-EU spouse can live in ANOTHER EU country but not the UK. The Tanik family is now living in Ireland and has made this their ‘Centre of Life’. Although the documentary does not mention this, they are now following what has become known as the Surinder Singh route, where they will claim the right to enter the UK again under EU law (Freedom of Movement).
Many British citizens who are married to Non-EU citizens will identify with this documentary.

16 May 2015

FREE Entry for British Citizens and their families into the UK - PETITION

It is well known that the UK is a 'target destination' for many people from around the world.
Look at the situation in Northern France where thousands of refugees from many different countries are camped out waiting to try and find a way to get across the English Channel to start a new life in the United Kingdom.

Rightly, the UK needs to protect its borders and control who enters the country.
EU citizens have the right to enter the UK under 'free movement' rules within the EU area.
As a result of a recent court ruling the UK government was forced to allow anyone holding an EU Residency Card the right to also enter the UK. This includes Non-EU citizens who have a EU spouse or family member.

During 2014, the UK decided to grant completely FREE access into the UK for citizens from United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar. Which means citizens from these countries can enter the UK with a simple Electronic Visa Waiver (EVW) document. This allows them to visit the UK for up to six months without a Visa.

An Electronic Visa Waiver is very simple to complete, free of charge and quicker than applying for a visa. There is no requirement to provide biometrics, attend a visa application centre or hand in passports prior to travel.  The document is issued immediately via a secure web site and can be obtained online from anywhere in the world for travel to the UK. Travellers from these countries must only complete their EVW on-line at least 48 hours before departure and present a printed copy on departure and again on arrival in the UK.

WHY HAS THE UK PROVIDED THIS SERVICE?  Maybe some would claim it's due to the huge number of rich Arabs buying property in London and becoming the 'big spenders'.

But an even bigger question needs to be asked: ''Why has this same service not been offered to BRITISH citizens and their families?'' i.e British nationals who are married to Non-EU nationals. Thousands of British people are working and living in many countries around the world on short term and long term employment contracts. Some have their own successful businesses. Many are former members of the British Armed Forces. However, every time they wish to return to the UK, on a short or long term visit, they MUST obtain a visa for their spouse to enter the UK legally.

The spouse of a British citizen must provide full biometric details to a Visa Application Centre, complete an application form, provide full details of WHY they are traveling to the UK and full details about their British spouse and many other requirements together with a FEE for this so called privilege. Any visa granted after this long process will only be for six months. After six months the whole process has to be started again from the beginning.

Should the same British citizen together his or her spouse decide to visit another EU country they will automatically be granted a visa for FREE under the EU freedom of movement rules. Even though the British citizen is not actually living in an EU (He or she may be living in Asia, America or China or a Non-EU European country), the Non-EU spouse will be granted a visa under EU rules. This is due to the pure fact that the British national is also an EU passport holder.

No wonder then, that thousands of British people around the world find it difficult to understand why their own country discriminates against them and their spouse/family each time they want to return to the UK for a holiday or family visit to see relatives. Returning home for a permanent stay is another case, which will also be met with a nightmare of paperwork and procedures and FEES.

The time has come to stop all this discrimination against British citizens. The British public are not aware that this is going on. The time has come to make them aware and to campaign for changes in UK immigration rules.

I ask you to support the recent campaign that many of my British friends and I have recently launched to help bring about these changes. 'FREE Entry for British Citizens and Their Families'  is a campaign that needs support from the British public.

PLEASE visit and sign and share our petition here

09 May 2015

FREE Entry for British Citizens and Their families to the UK

British citizens are fleeing Ukraine due to the severe economic situation as a result of the war. Many British citizens are married to Ukraine citizens and have children born in Ukraine. Under EU law, British citizens and their non-EU spouse/family can live anywhere within the EU, except their country of citizenship/origin. Therefore they are denied entry to the United Kingdom. These British citizens and their families are now living in EU countries and trying to make a new life after leaving behind their homes and businesses in Ukraine. Some British citizens and their families are still stranded in Ukraine.
These families are refugees and cannot seek any help from the British Embassy in Ukraine. Under UK laws, a British citizen who intends to bring their non-EU spouse/family to the UK must prove to be in employment or have a business with a minimum income of GBP 18,6000 per annum and much more in the case of a family. In order to obtain a spouse visa, the British citizen must first show they are 'settled' in the UK before they can make an application for their spouse/family to join them.
Many of these British citizens have been living in Ukraine for many years prior to the war and simply wish to enter the UK with their spouse and family to start a new life.
Trying to obtain a simple tourist visa for their spouse to enter the UK is also difficult. The application process is not easy and always involves the payment of a fee which is non-refundable if the application is refused.
These British citizens and their families need help.
See: https://www.facebook.com/britishcitizensandtheirfamilies

03 May 2015

Victory Day 2015 - What Victory?

This coming week we will witness celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of the 2nd World War (aka Great Patriotic War) The war ended on 8 May 1945. Victory Day in Europe is celebrated in many countries but has always been a major event for FSU (Former Soviet Union) countries). Celebrations usually take place on 9th May each year and this year the Russian Federation will display its so called power with large display in Moscow.  The Russians as always will celebrate the defeat of fascism.

There is no doubt that the army of the SOVIET UNION (not just the Russians) played a major part in the defeat on Nazi Germany. The SU army got to Berlin ahead of the British and the Americans.

During the past year many of us have witnessed the rise of fascism again in the Russian Federation.
Try telling a Ukrainian citizen that fascism has been defeated and they will no doubt laugh and point you in the direction of Moscow. The next victory that many of us are looking forward to is the removal of the Putin Regime from Russia.

I remember a cartoon produced by the Kyiv Post one year which showed a 'Soviet Union' pensioner begging on the street and along comes a smartly dressed healthy looking German pensioner of the same age who kindly donates a large handout to the beggar. Made me think about what victory?

I'm convinced that the state of a country can be judged by two important measures. First, the state of the country's medical and health system and how it takes care of people and second, how it takes care of pensioners. Unfortunately it is well known that pensioners in the FSU receive a financial pension that can only be described as a pittance and barely enough to survive on each month. The majority of pensioners can only live as a result of support from their families.

However, German state pensioners receive one of the highest financial pensions in the world.
(See chart)

What victory you may be thinking?

25 March 2015

Corruption in Ukraine

Today the government made an open display of what happens to government officials suspected of corruption.

Senior Ukrainian state official Serhiy Bochkovskiy has been arrested during today's session of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers. Bochkovskiy is accused of corruption and embezzlement connected to the procurement of fuels and lubricants for the State Emergency Service. Bochkovskiy's first deputy Vasyl Stoyetskiy was also detained.

See the video in the report here from Ukraine Today.

18 March 2015

UKRAINE TRADING FUND - Now is the time to do business with Ukraine

Ukraine Trading Fund

The Ukraine Trading Fund helps foreign buyers to find goods and services in Ukraine and enter into successful business contracts. We help foreign buyers to:
            1. Source a Ukraine business to supply goods and/or services
            2. Negotiate an agreement
            3. Agree prices and delivery terms
            4. Reduce risk by managing the delivery and payment method

         To discuss your requirements further please contact:
     Gerald Bowers – Director – Ukraine Trading Fund
email: gerald.bowers@bbcu.com.ua

16 March 2015

Ukraine - A clash of two mentalities ?

Andrey Kurkov the famous Ukrainian writer provides a clear insight into the mentalities of the 'two sides' of Ukraine.

People involved in business is a good example explained here:
So what really divides Ukraine?
It’s a clash of two mentalities — the post-Soviet collective mentality, where people lack initiative and are taught to depend on the boss or factory owner for perks. And people who start businesses and take responsibility themselves.
In Donbass (in the east) you won’t find many small businesses. But if you check the register in Lvov, you’ll see tens of thousands.
He makes a good point. On a visit to Lvov in the far west of Ukraine you will find many small businesses. In the service sector many small cafes and restaurants can be found in Lviv (Lvov) and the owner of each business can be found actively working on the premises and greeting customers. This is pretty much like it is across Europe.
But.....even in Kyiv the capital city it is still unusual to find a small business in the service sector where the owner(s) have hands on experience. The situation is at its most extreme in the troubled eastern parts of the country. Very few small businesses and very few people involved in entrepreneurial activities. Some will claim it is due to the fear of the local mafia who want to control as much as possible. We all know that the words mafia and local government can be used together in this part of the country.
Kurkov is right when he explains the 'post soviet collective mentality', where people are fully reliant on the local factory or owners to provide everything for the 'workers'. Many in other parts of Ukraine will gladly comment that ''Those people in the east think we owe them a living''.
On a positive note, small businesses in many parts of Ukraine (owner managed) are desperate to find new customers both local and foreign. We must do all we can to help them.
You can read the Kurkov interview here

24 February 2015

Ukraine Tomorrow

Ukraine government has announced the launch of a new TV channel - 'Ukraine Tomorrow'

'Ukraine's Minister of Information Policy, Yuriy Stets, has announced the creation of a new channel called Ukraine Tomorrow and a new so-called "i-army" to combat Russian propaganda in an increasingly bitter information war between Moscow and Kyiv.'

The country needs to get the message out to the rest of the world about what is happening in Ukraine and what needs to be done to help put the country back on its feet.

See Ukraine Tomorrow

More than ever before Ukraine needs help both in the public and private sectors.

17 February 2015

Crowd Funding Appeal - Ukraine Trading Fund

See our appeal here on Indiegogo


Ukraine Trading Fund

Ukraine Trading Fund - An Appeal via Crowdfunding

Not wanting to 'throw in the towel' on Ukraine, I have decided to try and help small businesses in Ukraine as much as possible.

As I am currently publishing and editing a magazine in Cyprus, I decided to outsource the printing of the magazine back to Ukraine and discovered the great cost savings to be made by doing business again in Kyiv. I have also appointed a designer and translator to do work on the magazine from their bases in Ukraine.

So, I got to thinking that many other businesses in other countries can benefit from having a trading relationship with both entrepreneurs and small companies back in Ukraine. We all know that times are very difficult and the economy is in a bad state. But there is so much talent available in Ukraine and so many small businesses eagerly looking for new opportunities. Gone are the days of 'advanced payments' and this has really upset the apple cart as customers are afraid to provide advance payments for fear of loosing out and suppliers are reluctant to provide products/services because they fear non-payment. Plus who knows how the banks will perform. Add to that the fear of Marshall Law being declared and we begin to understand why small businesses are living in fear of survival.

Therefore, I'm about to launch the UKRAINE TRADING FUND, with an appeal for funding via crowd funding methods. The fund will act as a bridge between customer and supplier. As follows:

1. The Ukraine Trading Fund helps small businesses to find foreign customers.
2. Supplier & Customer agree prices and terms. (Via the Fund)
3. Ukraine Trading Fund provides a guarantee to the supplier.
4. Supplier produces the goods/services
5. Customer completes payment to Ukraine Trading Fund
6. Ukraine Trading Fund completes payment to Supplier.

This will be a FREE service, provided we can attract the seed funding for one year.
The FUND will act as a buffer/risk fund just in case one of the parties in the planned business deals fails to deliver. But with careful planning the fund should remain in place.

Further details available via the BBCU website.

05 February 2015

The State of Ukraine - Time to 'Draw the Curtains'

The situation gets worse each day.
Today, we see the Hryvnia (UAH) decline to 22 against the USD, and that is the official bank rate as per the NBU. The black market rate will be approaching 30 to $1. But dollars and euros are just not available to buy in Ukraine anyhow.
Inflation will soon be reaching over 30%. Bank lending rates have been increased today to 19.5 %
The country has only $6.5 billion in foreign currency reserves.
(As I was writing this the Head of the National Bank of Ukraine Valeriy Gontareva has just announced the rate will now be 25 to the $1)

Many people thought something would change today, when US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Ukraine. Although the US will provide much needed financial assistance, they will not provide any military support. Plus the latest news is that German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande have also refused to provide any military support.

So what is the future for Ukraine?

The IMF will no doubt provide financial support. So the future for Ukraine would appear to be a country heavily dependent on international loans and aid.
The international/multi-national companies already in the country may well continue to try and survive. Plus a whole range of NGO’s, quasi autonomous foreign funded organisations and the like will continue to provide employment to a few. Many local businesses have already gone out of business and the media in Ukraine are not reporting the true situation in the economy. (They are not reporting anywhere near enough about what is really going on). Far too many businesses and entrepreneurs do not have any money to pay taxes.

The lucky winners are those individuals and businesses who receive income in the form of foreign currency. Those with contracts for IT support and software development will be OK. Ukrainians and Foreigners who have agreed to be paid in USD or EURO will be laughing all the way to the bank. But inflation will catch up with everyone.

The majority of the people in Ukraine are suffering badly. Wages are in short supply if payable at all. Many are already in survival mode and concentrate on providing food for their families on a daily basis.

The economy has only days before it collapses if the IMF does not provide funding next week.
Therefore, I cannot see the situation improving for many years. Although I have a business in Ukraine, together with private property, the time has come for me personally to ‘bring down the curtain’.

This decision was not taken quickly or easily.

Ukrainians are very good people. The great majority are honest and hardworking and reliable. They deserve better. They deserve to be part of Europe.  They cannot understand why we from the ‘west’ have failed them. Why have we not provided them with military support against an aggressive Russian Federation under the control of Vladimir Putin.  Moreover, the great problem of corruption still hangs like a millstone around everyone’s neck in Ukraine.

Ukrainians are talented people. They are highly skilled in many professions.  During the early part of 2014 they set an example to the rest of Europe when they decided to overthrow a corrupt President and his corrupt government.  Unfortunately this proved unacceptable to Vladimir Putin and as we all know led to the invasion and annexation of Crimea and the continuing invasion into Eastern Ukraine.

I sincerely hope and pray that one day in the not too distant future the people of Ukraine can live in a peaceful and calm civilised society aligned to true Western European values.

Gerald Bowers

5 February 2015