The Destination Experts

Tour Managers & Guides

Photo credit: Jake Smith

Tour Managers & Guides

Our tour managers and national guides are experienced, caring, multilingual leaders who bring good humor and a love of their work to ensure your satisfaction. Their expert leadership in the field is unmatched and has earned them rave reviews from our past MIR travelers.

Maria Akkaya

A St. Petersburg native, “Masha” earned an M.B.A. from the Stockholm School of Economics. Travel and study of the English language have always been her passions, and since 1999, she’s combined these interests as a tour manager with MIR.

Togrul Bagirli

Azeri national guide and tour manager Togrul Bagirli was born and raised in Baku, and has dedicated the better part of the last decade to guiding travelers to the lesser-known spots in his hometown and across Azerbaijan. He speaks Russian and English in addition to his native Azeri (and is studying German), and maintains a travel blog cataloging some of Baku’s hidden gems. Togrul has been leading MIR groups as a tour manager/guide for many years. 

Michel Behar

Michel has worked for MIR since 1998 and has led tours to every corner of MIR’s realm. A Dutch citizen, Michel speaks a host of languages, including Russian, Italian, Turkish, and Hebrew. He specializes in current affairs and the 20th century history of the former Soviet Union, Europe, the Near East, and North and West Africa. Michel’s interests include photography and world music.

Olga Boyarskaya

Olga has been guiding MIR travelers to Russia and beyond for more than 15 years. A native of St. Petersburg with a great sense of humor, she has traveled extensively throughout Russia, China, Central Asia, and along the Trans-Siberian. Olga enjoys working with travelers because it gives her the opportunity to share her love and knowledge of her city with others. Her other interests include aerobics, dancing, and spending time with her sons.

Tamara Dubko

A St. Petersburg native, Tamara’s extensive training in languages and fine arts serves her well in her tour manager role with MIR. Tamara has a lifelong interest in art history, hiking, and nature, and has traveled extensively in Europe and throughout the former Soviet Union. Tamara has earned degrees from the Foreign Language Department of the St Petersburg Teacher’s Institute, the Intourist Guides program, and has studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts. During her long tenure as a guide, she has worked with luminaries in fashion and art including John Paul Getty Jr, Marc Jacobs, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and has also done translation for Christie’s Auction House. She began traveling by train when she was five, and has led countless Trans-Siberian rail journeys. Tamara loves meeting people of all different nationalities and lifestyles and showing them her country.

Jamshid Fayzullaev

Born and raised in the ancient city of Bukhara, Uzbekistan, Jamshid is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable person who is familiar with every corner of Uzbekistan. Fluent in English, Russian, Uzbek, and Farsi, Jamshid spent several months in the U.S. as an intern with the Mississippi Consortium for International Development. He has been a tour manager for MIR for more than seven years now, and is well versed in the history and traditions of the Silk Road. Clients enjoy his buoyant personality and his wholehearted engagement with each tour he leads.

Yuriy Kim

With a background in the hospitality industry, “Yura” guides MIR travelers throughout Central Asia, Turkey, and China. A resident of Bukhara, he is fluent in English, Russian, and Tajik and communicates easily in Uzbek as well. He has great enthusiasm for his country, which his clients appreciate.

Martin Klimenta

A Czech national and former teacher, Martin has been leading MIR tours since 2000. He speaks four languages, including Russian, German, English, and his native Czech. He is extremely well traveled in this corner of the globe, having led countless MIR groups on journeys to Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, China, the Baltics, Central Asia, and all over Central/East Europe and the Balkans. Martin’s flexible, active style and inquisitive nature make him a perfect travel companion who can be called upon to assist with virtually any special request.

Mariam Merebashvili

Mariam Merebashvili has become one of Georgia’s more experienced and well-traveled guides since completing her B.A. and M.B.A. in tourism at Ilia State University. She is an alumnus of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations’ program and the Guide Association’s Guide School, and trained as a tour guide at Georgia’s Ministry of Cultural and Historic Heritage in 2011. She currently makes her home in Tbilisi and has led many culinary and wine tours for travelers, wine aficionados, and foodies. She has been leading MIR trips throughout the South Caucasus region for several years. 

Anvar Nasimov

Anvar has worked in the tourism industry in Uzbekistan for more than a decade, interpreting, guiding, leading tour groups, and working in a tour office. He studied languages at Samarkand State University, and speaks fluent English, Russian and Tajik. Anvar spent a year as the interpreter for a UN consultant in Samarkand, and regularly escorts MIR groups around Central Asia along the Silk Route and along the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Davit Nozadze

Davit (David) Nozadze was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and raised in Borjomi. He’s been working as a guide and tour manager since 2009, specializing in off-road trips, large and small cultural tours, wine, and gastronomy. Having earned a degree in law, as well as human geography, Davit is fluent in English and Georgian. He says that “meeting people – and through them experiencing local culture – drives my travel engine.”

Tatiana Pokalova

Tatiana Pokalova has been guiding and managing tours for MIR since 2003. Currently writing her dissertation for a Ph.D. in education, Tatiana has participated in two exchange programs in the U.S., teaching Russian language and culture. Fluent in English and German, she has served as an interpreter for international delegations and business conferences, and teaches English at Ural State Pedagogics University, Ekaterinburg. Tatiana has shepherded MIR clients through Russia, China, Mongolia, and Eastern and Northern Europe.

Furkat Pulatov

Furkat was born in a village near Samarkand and studied at Samarkand State Institute of Foreign Languages. He has worked in the travel industry since 1996, and speaks Uzbek, English, Russian, and Tajik. Furkat’s interests include the history and traditions of Central Asia and sports (especially soccer).

Katya Puzyreva

Katya was born in Moscow and spent several early years in Minsk, Belarus. She earned a Master’s in journalism and received an English Language Interpreter Certificate from St. Petersburg University. Katya enjoys meeting new people and never grows tired of learning more about different personalities. Working with Russian delegations in the U.S. has given her great communication and problem-solving skills. She has been guiding and managing tours for more than 20 years, and has been all across Russia, to Eastern and Western Europe, and to 14 U.S. states, including Hawaii. She is especially interested in music and ballet.

Abdu Samadov

Born and raised in Samarkand, Abdu Samadov is full of inside information about his hometown. He has studied in England and the U.S. and is fluent in English, Farsi, and Russian. Abdu guides MIR’s travelers throughout Uzbekistan and enjoys sharing his knowledge with other travelers.

Paul Schwartz

Paul led his first MIR tour in 1999, but his connection with Russia began long before. Paul first traveled to Russia and the former Soviet Union on a semester-long language program while studying Russian at Grinnell College. A few years later, he returned to live and work abroad, working on Soviet factory fishing ships as an interpreter and troubleshooter. It was here that he refined his Russian language skills and enhanced his cultural understanding of the different ethnic groups within the Soviet Union.

Paul has since led over 100 tours covering all the former Soviet republics, diverse parts of China, Mongolia, and most of Eastern Europe. Besides travel, his interests include hiking and camping, reading (especially travel books), and Russian literature.

Batir Shamakhsudov

Hailing from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, Batir has been working as a guide in Central Asia since 1997. He studied English at Tashkent’s World Languages University and is also fluent in Uzbek and Russian.

Alla Shishkina

Born and raised in Irkutsk, Alla received her master’s degree in English and German and has been working as a guide and tour manager in the Baikal region for 14 years. A friendly and sociable mother of two, Alla loves to travel, read, garden, and cook.

Max Sjoeblom

Max is a well-traveled, experienced Swedish tour manager with Hungarian roots. He speaks Swedish, English, German, and Russian, and has traveled and worked in more than 25 different countries, from the deserts of Turkmenistan to the Siberian tundra. His interests include indigenous Siberian culture – he lives part time in Yakutsk – Eastern Europe, the arts, literature, scuba diving, and fridge magnets.

Jurate Terleckaite

A native of Vilnius, Lithuania, Jurate has worked as an interpreter at the Lithuanian Parliament; a freelance journalist for Lithuanian, French, and English magazines, and Lithuanian radio and TV; a translator of four English and French books; and an organizer of international conferences. She is a long-time tour manager and guide in the Baltics.

Tatiana Timoshuk

Tatiana was raised in St. Petersburg, and has been guiding and managing tours for more than 20 years. A “child of perestroika,” Tatiana has traveled and led tours in most of MIR’s destinations. She is energizing to be around, because she loves her job and knows how to enjoy life. Fluent in Russian and English, Tatiana likes to teach Russian folk songs and dances to her clients.

Nutsa Tskimanauri

Nutsa Tskimanauri joined the travel industry in 2011, arranging and guiding cultural and trekking tours in the Javakheti region of Georgia. She is passionate about nature, trekking, and horseback riding, has been an actress, and lived in a Georgian monastery. Nutsa has also worked with NATO and hosted delegations of Russian bishops. She took part in Georgian Wine Guide Training in 2016-17, and loves to learn about wine and wine culture.

Halyna Zadorovska

Born and raised in Lviv, western Ukraine, Halyna studied English language and literature, as well as history and arts, at the University of Lviv, Ukraine. For 10 years, she worked as land tour director, then got into cruising as the Cruise Director on Dnieper cruises on routes ranging from Kiev to Odessa via Crimea. Halyna’s been a tour leader for Volga River cruises as well as has led group tours across the region throughout Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Halyna is also an instructor of guide training courses in Lviv and loves to show travelers her city and country, and is always happy to see her former students leading groups of travelers around town.

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