I was totally grinning when I read this article today.
I hope you will too..
To Russia for Love
War and alcoholism have taken their toll on Russia’s male population, and women are turning their gaze to the eligible bachelors of the UK, finds Richard Spillett
Tuesday April 8th 2008
Are British men on the run from Britain’s pint-downing, liberated women?
While in the realm of political rhetoric Britain and Russia seem to be renewing old rivalries, relations on the ground have never been better. The global market is finally coming to Moscow, and when it comes to husbands, Russian women have started buying British.
Sitting with Yorkshireman Jonathan and his newly-wedded Muscovite wife, Alexandra, I begin to understand why. Over borscht and fish and chips, she explains: “In Britain, all the blokes are gorgeous and the girls are ugly. Here all the women are beautiful and the men are useless.” Though I’m not sure it is quite that straightforward, there may be an element of truth in it.
The second world war’s removal of a generation of men meant that boys were treated like kings in the Soviet Union. Add to Russia’s demographic bias towards women its rampant alcoholism, high prison numbers and near million-man conscript army and you can understand why it isn’t exactly raining eligible bachelors on the streets of Moscow.
British men on the other hand, it would seem, are on the run from female liberation in the UK. All the men I speak to about their other halves said they found the quiet strength and femininity of the Russian women preferable to their pint-downing, man-eating British counterparts.
“Russian women are stronger,” says Glaswegian David. His Russian wife tells me this stems from perestroika times, when women went out to win the bread leaving their men at home, where they hit the booze. Whether the new economic stability will break them from such a spell is as yet uncertain. But in the meantime, foreign bachelors will have to cater for domestic demand, and it’s the British who seem to be plugging the gap.
Still, in a country not known for its transparency, foreign partners come wrapped in a ball of red tape. It’s a problem increasingly experienced from both sides. Despite Russia’s regulations being nothing in comparison with the USSR, many of the paranoid systems there constraining movement still persist. Meanwhile, Britain’s never-ending immigration panic is making it as inaccessible a fortress as the once iron-curtained Soviet Union.
The Russian people’s ambivalence towards foreigners offers another test. Brought up in a world almost devoid of other nationalities, marrying foreign is an unfamiliar phenomenon for most parents to deal with. It’s a local symptom of a much wider-felt insecurity afflicting the country as its own brand of liberalisation brings people much closer to products, ideas and others once kept out.
Russia’s austerity can also seem mystifying to lads brought up in the whirlwind of consumption that is modern Britain. Pretending to enjoy cabbage soup at the in-laws can be difficult for boys raised on pub grub and takeaways. And with no budget airlines connecting the two countries, and the cultural differences between them, choosing where to live and raise children can be a problem.
Interestingly, many of the couples in this situation are choosing to live in Russia rather than the UK. Karl, from Birmingham, to whom a half-Russian daughter was born this week, chose to live in Moscow due to the cost of living. “I got a nice flat in the centre of Moscow for under £25,000 – unthinkable in the UK. What’s more, it’s now worth over double that.”
Roland from Eastbourne came here for better job prospects. “London was a mass of people fighting over slave-driving graduate training schemes,” he says. “Here, the economy’s growing and there are far more opportunities.” His girlfriend has been promoted twice in two months and “we can actually save rather than live in debt”, he says, astonished.
But as relations deteriorate between the two countries, maybe a new British-Russian generation of parents and children will undermine their assumed differences.