MONTCALM COUNTY, Mich. (March 17, 2014) — A West Michigan man who spent the past 23 years traveling to Ukraine and Russia might put his planned trip in the spring on hold if tensions continue to rise.
Born and raised in Allendale, Danny Geurink has made a living out of traveling to the former Soviet Union by taking people with him.
“I still have people who want to go, but now they’re scared,” he said. “I had eight, 10, 12 people planning on going this spring again. They all backed out.”
Geurink, once an editor for Field & Stream Magazine, said he has visited Russia and Ukraine nearly 100 times since he was invited in 1991 by a mining company to help bring tourists to the country.
“We take fisherman–hunters and fisherman,” Geurink said. “I take tourists. When we were there, Gorbachev had just been put back in the Kremlin there and (it was) still the Soviet Union. It wasn’t even a half a year later that the whole thing collapsed, and everyone broke away as fast as they could.”
Geurink said he doesn’t want to see Russia take ownership over Ukraine’s Crimea region.
“I have a lot of Ukrainian friends, and everything went so smooth under them in the Crimea, and I was just in the Crimea two years ago on that same naval base that they’re talking about,” Geurink said.
While Geurink plans to travel back to the countries in the spring, he said he hopes the tensions will cease and that Russian’s President Vladimir Putin won’t push his way into Ukraine.
“They are a big bully, always have been a big bully, and that’s one of the reasons why everybody’s a little nervous,” Geurink said. “Now is Putin gonna start trying to get the Soviet Union put back together?”
“I think Putin is smart enough … He got Crimea, he got the jewel, he stole it. I think he’s smart enough to just go back and say ‘Hey, I did pretty good.’”
Geurink will be in Grand Rapids next week at the Ultimate Sports Show signing his book, ‘Land Of The Bear,’ in which he writes about living and traveling throughout regions of the former Soviet Union.