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Monthly Archives: August 2015
The Forum Has Changed Direction a Little to Include More Travel, Culture, News and Politics.
The site was stuck in what is a dying and declining niche. When the site first started back in the mid naughties, it was firmly aimed at what some termed the “mail-order bride” niche. The FSU dating scene was then – although slowing down – still a vibrant industry. It was mostly centred on Ukraine the last decade or so, and most of those travelling there to meet women were from the US.
However, as you will know, a year and a half ago, there was a western-backed coup d’etat in Ukraine that saw the overthrow of the elected president and the installation of a new regime in Kiev. Subsequently, Crimea reunified with Russia and the east of Ukraine broke away into independent regions. Since then, civil war has raged in Ukraine while the new borders are being defined.
Against a backdrop of significantly reduced dating-related travel to the region, Crimea reunifying with Russia, increased American aggression against Russia, US/EU sanctions against Russia, counter sanctions from Russia, civil war in Ukraine and the MH17 crash, it isn’t hard to see why the forum became quickly dominated by these topics of discussion. So we decided to roll with it and reorganise the site somewhat.
If you take a fresh look at the placement of the forum rooms, you will find the dating and marriage sections have been condensed and moved further down the page. Up closer to the top you will find Cyrillic & Language, FSU News & Politics, Visas, Travel Discussion, Travel Reports, Culinary, Culture, Russian/Ukrainian Media and Expat Chat closer to the top. While we still have a lot of chat pertaining to dating in the former Soviet Union, you will find it isn’t as dominant as it once was.
Guys, if you are already married and haven’t visited us in a while, you can tell your wife it is a political, news and travel forum more than a dating forum nowadays. We know we lost a few of the married guys as their wives objected to them participating in what they saw as a ‘dating forum’. Yes, we still have some dating ads along with other types of ads, but like any site, we have to pay the bills. There is a topic on that here: Site Funding. Supporting Members. Q&A.
We would like to give you a few links to, and a little background about some of the recent popular topics. Continue reading
Forget calling the Land Rover or Range Rover dealer, you will get the run around and wait for months for backorders from England that come by boat.
Like many Americans, you are probably wary to buy off unknown foreign websites and prefer to pay in dollars from a site you know, one where you can see the sellers reputation, right?
Now you can find these on US eBay, priced in dollars, from a trusted and experienced international seller based out of England.
Tracked shipping to all states in the US, and the rest of the world is free, and there will be no import duty to pay at your end.
Be aware you will wait 7-14 days for delivery as the USPS and Homeland Security are a little slow to process incoming international mail. Continue reading
If the current price regime continues for years into the future than the value of the big agreements made last year might be impacted but the thing is that China and Russia are dealing in yuan and roubles, not in dollars. This means that the dollar’s fluctuations are not relevant and the price of the rouble and yuan as a pair will be much more stable than rouble – dollar -yuan will be.
China has devalued slightly, but the currency, due to its link to the dollar, is still very over valued. They could move another 20% to get to the ‘correct’ value. Of course by doing so they’d kick the US in the nuts such that they’d not be getting off the floor for a while.
For them cheaper energy is worthwhile but is not essential. It was the decline in China’s energy consumption early last year that told us what was happening globally – that consumption of Chinese goods was falling. The Chinese knew this too, before the energy figures gave he game away. That led them to move ahead with moving toward the internal market which has a huge amount of room to grow – just as the US market did from early in the last century when they were already the world’s largest economy (since about 1870).
It is obvious that the Chinese devaluation was a signal to the IMF and US. As many do not understand, a currency pegged to another, as the yuan and dollar are, are not freely traded. For inclusion in the IMF basket the yuan needs to be unpegged, either fully or almost so.
This is a signal to the IMF that China is willing to do what is needed.
The US is being told that China will no longer support the dollar as it has been doing.
Whilst events may seem to be coincidental they are probably less coincidental than we might imagine. China is making foreign policy moves, in concert with Russia. Saudi Arabia is making its own moves. The target, on the whole, is the US.
The goal is to force the dollar into appreciation against as many significant currency pairs as possible thus weakening the US freedom of action across the globe and in the internal market.
Remember, having a ‘strong’ currency is often not the best option, especially when the holders of that currency have been spending the past 6 years trying to devalue it, without success.
The big issue facing all of us is this: it is quite possible that the global economy can no longer afford to pay as much as it is for oil. If we can not afford to pay then we will not and the price will fall further. This WILL result in a fall in oil output from all but the cheapest sources – this means the US will cease to produce almost any oil. Only the cheapest producers will be viable and only the cheapest producers with manufacturing infrastructure will be able to maintain anything like current standards of living. Continue reading
Russia is the largest exporter of gas in the world and the second largest exporter of oil. It isn’t much of a stretch to see how Russia, with China’s help, would be able to give Uncle Sam a major financial headache very quickly if they wanted to.
The dollar, at one time America’s strength, has become the tool to create a managed decline of its influence. We are seeing over time, the US as a declining power, the end of a unipolar world and a slow de-dollarisation taking place. If anything, this makes the US more dangerous as it won’t go down without a fight. Make no mistake, the US will go down kicking, screaming and lashing out.
It’s a process. A process the world now needs. The only way to wind down constant US wars, regime changes, terrorism and aggression across the world, without WW3, is to devalue and undermine the currency. And relegate America and its dollar to a regional power. Continue reading
Russian-Produced Food Will Replace Imports Completely According to Russian Agriculture Minister
Importozameshcheniye (import substitution) is the new buzzword at the Russian Agriculture Ministry.
The Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachyov has once again underlined the ongoing policy of import substitution in Russia. He said that produce from Russian farms will eradicate the need for foreign food imports from the Russian market completely within a decade.
Some think this too optimistic, but Russia has the fourth-largest acreage of arable land in the world, and no shortage of fresh water. Analysts say this should be enough to underpin a huge ongoing increase in agricultural production.
“The main task that faces Russian agriculture is to accelerate import substitution. In ten years, domestic food products ought to replace and squeeze out imported ones 100 percent,” Tkachyov recently told the TASS news agency.
Tkachyov’s main priority since his recent appointment has been to try and reorganise the Russian domestic agricultural industry to take advantage of the loss of many Western food imports caused by counter-sanctions.
Russia imposed reciprocal import bans in 2014 on food products from countries with sanctions against Russia. Since then, Russian politicians have been optimistic about the prospects of the domestic agriculture industry.
Some agriculture experts remain sceptical though. They say that to achieve this much growth in the sector would require substantial financial input from the state for at least five years. Tkachyov has already confirmed that the sector will receive “unprecedented” state support of 2 trillion roubles ($35 billion) over the next five years.
Tkachyov said that agriculture is already growing steadily, influenced by Russia’s reduced imports and the devaluation of the rouble. This gives domestic producers a competitive edge by causing the cost of imported food to increase.
Production is rising in some sectors already; most notably in the cheese industry. The rouble’s fall against the US dollar last year, combined with falls in the price of oil and Western sanctions squeezed Russia’s economy. Critics say that Russian producers will lose market share once more when products from Europe return to the market.
Tkachyov was appointed as Agriculture Minister in April, replacing Nikolai Fyodorov. One of his main remits is to speed up the development of Russian agriculture by creating favourable conditions for farms and agriculture. He intends to push the industry towards increasing production and reducing food prices, thus allowing for greater import substitution. Continue reading
Ukraine is a disaster, a bankrupt nation run by crooks and hoodlums, in hock to another set of villains in the EU. It’s little reported in the West, but now there are major ructions in the West of the country. The problem is Right Sector, which is basically a private army of Nazis who wield crippling power, attended by gangsterism, racketeering and violence. It was they who were in the vanguard of ousting Yanukovich in 2014 (a legally elected president), and now Right Sector is pushing to eject the current band of knaves and cutthroats holding court in Kiev. It’s a real comedy of errors, except there is nothing much to laugh about. Any country that has a private army rampaging about is in for big trouble. If you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas, as the saying goes. Poroshenko and his ilk could well find themselves dragged out into the streets and shot without so much as a by your leave. Mr Poroshenko, an oligarch with a somewhat dubious and shady past, had better have his private jet standing by for a quick getaway.
However, it might then be shot down and doubtless the blame would be laid on another ‘Putin’s missile’ (headline courtesy of that bastion of balanced journalism – the Sun). In case you were unaware, according to the Sun it was ‘Putin’s missile’ that shot down flight MH17 last July over Ukraine!
The West has encouraged and in fact orchestrated the mayhem and madness in Ukraine. Millions of dollars were pumped in to fund NGOs, whose ulterior motive was to bring about regime change and create chaos on Russia’s borders. And for their henchman they selected or at least condoned Nazi thugs such as Right Sector to do the dirty work. I find it ironic and sad in the extreme that our fathers and grandfathers fought a long and bitter WWII to rid the world of Nazism (helped out a great deal by Russia who lost something like 25 million souls in the effort), while today the West is turning a blind eye to its menace in Ukraine. And all in a sick and twisted geopolitical game.
The good news is that NATO has blown Mission Ukraine. Despite all the sanctions and hoo-ha, it’s hard to lend credence to the assertion that Russia is a threat and has designs on sweeping west to cut a red swathe through the heartlands of Europe. Nobody is really buying that particular brand of baloney. ‘The Russians are coming’ was always a rather empty and silly jest, anyway. On the other hand, NATO has swept east, despite the promise of Bush Sr to the Russians in the early 90s that they wouldn’t. For heaven’s sake, Russia is the biggest country in the world; it doesn’t need to go rampaging about like a bear in a glass factory.
The Baltic States and their pathetic whining about the ‘Russian threat’ are frankly a laughing stock. NATO generals and Western politicians maunder on about this ad nauseam too, but anyone with half a brain should be able to shred this tissue of lies into fragments and see it for what it is: a desperate and ill-judged move to demonize and ultimately unseat Putin in the old game of let’s change the regime. Judging by opinion polls in Russia, the plan has backfired spectacularly. An overwhelming majority of the population approves of Vladimir Putin, and the chances of ousting him appear about as likely as installing a Communist Commander-in-Chief in the White House. Incidentally, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, enjoys similar popularity at home. Continue reading
The UK government appears to be quietly in the process of removing Russian diplomats from the UK.
The method they are using to do this is by not renewing or issuing new visas to staff at the Russian embassies in London and Edinburgh.
The press secretary in the Russian Embassy in London today decided to go public with the dirty tricks campaign by the UK government.
Among the tactics outlined are:
Stopping extensions of diplomatic and official visas for those staff members of the Russian Embassy in London and Consulate General in Edinburgh who stay in their positions over five years.
Refusing to extend UK visas for other staff members regardless of the requested period, quite arbitrarily.
A senior diplomat had to depart the UK last month because his visa was not extended.
The Russian Embassy says this is a clear violation of international obligations, in particular, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.
According to the Vienna Convention, the functions of a member of the mission come to an end only after a relevant notification is served by the sending state (Russia) to the receiving state (UK). The Convention does not provide the receiving state with the authority to limit the length of stay, with the exception of cases when a member of a mission is declared persona non-grata or an “unacceptable person” by the receiving state.
Thus, by implication, the UK’s recent imposition of time limits on diplomatic visas, suggests the staff members refused visas are persona non-grata. A contravention of Article 9 of the Vienna Convention. In practice it means this is expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK.
Articles 7 and 10 of the Vienna Convention, stipulate that appointment of a diplomatic agent, with the exception of the head of the mission, does not require the consent of the receiving state (the UK in this case) and is done by notification.
Under Article 25 of the same convention, the receiving state shall accord full facilities for the performance of the functions of the mission.
It can safely be assumed that the “full facilities” mentioned, would, among other things, refer to issuance of relevant documents (like visas) enabling unrestricted entry and departure of diplomatic agents to and from the UK.
Despite the Russian Embassy having made repeated appeals, the illegal actions have been already deployed by the Home Office in coordination with the Foreign Office.
Already, in addition to the senior diplomat who had to return home mentioned above, another diplomat left without being able to be replaced this month, and two further staff members will have to leave for the same reason. The extensions of their visas were made for a measly three months, instead of the more typical one or two years.
One might say that the three month visas was in fact giving semi-permanent staff the opportunity to pack up and tie up their affairs before they leave. It is a de facto expulsion.
The Russian Embassy says it is practically impossible to prepare and process replacement staff members within such a limited period of time. And even if they succeed in doing that, the Embassy has been experiencing the same prolonged delays in issuing British visas for their new staff members, causing them to be unable to arrive to take up their posts.
The Embassy also incurs substantial financial losses by paying rent for apartments of our staff while they are sitting vacant. Their would-be occupants unable to get diplomatic visas.
The Russian Embassy says that the British authorities, in no uncertain terms have told them that this is their consolidated position, and the intent is to degrade the ability of the Russian Embassy to function as an effective diplomatic mission.
Such action, as well as being illegal under international law, is clearly aimed at diminishing and limiting the Russian diplomatic presence in the UK and a deliberate attempt by the UK to hamper Russian diplomatic work, in clear violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961.
Such an obvious attempt by the British government to wreck – on purpose – the established international order may prove to be a dangerous gamble by the UK in respect of the Russian diplomatic and consular missions. Such action by the UK will undoubtedly sour relations between the UK and Russia.
Other foreign diplomatic missions to the UK may like to take note of what the UK is doing to Russia here. The UK has has difficult relationships with a number of other countries; how long before they start to quietly expel diplomats of countries without just cause and in contravention of international law?
This is all the more noteworthy at this time as Russia is again looking at ways to relax the rules for people getting visas to Russia.
For me that can’t come fast enough, as I am one of many who has not visited Russia this year due to the onerous extra requirements of biometrics involving personal travel to London each and every time.
The current visa regime for Brits to get a visa to Russia needs swift and radical overhaul. It is unfair to subject ordinary travellers to Russia – many with family members in Russia and/or married to nationals – to extra bureaucracy simply as tit-for-tat because our government happens to be extremely foolish.
Russia could use this diplomatic crisis to overhaul the visa system for Brits and demonstrate to the UK that they are bigger than petty squabbles like this.
As a voting Brit, I would urge the UK government to abandon this pettiness, adhere to the Vienna Convention, and let the Russian diplomats back into the UK. Continue reading
Russia Should Abolish Visas for the EU, America and the Developed World. Top Russian Official Agrees.
If Western sanctions against Russia are to continue, Russia is in a unique position to take advantage of the situation by relaxing visa rules and welcoming tourists.
Right now, you can get almost twice as many roubles for your money as you could a year ago. This makes Russia cheaper to visit than it ever was.
However, the current onerous requirements and unnecessary bureaucracy to obtain a visa to Russia has been holding Russian tourism back for many years. The current visa system is inconsistent, inconvenient, and puts many people off travelling to Russia. Visa registration once in-country, differs across Russia and can also prove cumbersome and problematical.
Oleg Safonov, head of Rosturism, the Russian Federal Tourism Agency agrees. He proposes to scrap the lot.
Safonov’s latest proposals, as reported on Interfax, include electronic visas, visas on arrival and simplification of the registration process. Travellers to Russia will very much welcome the moves, if implemented. Russia is a little late to the party with this; they should have done it years ago.
Russia already allows visa-free entry to citizens of some countries. But they are not the countries that significant tourism revenue is derived from. Rosturism recently announced that the number of foreign tourists coming to Russia grew in 2015 by 16.5 percent. Chinese tourists account for most of that growth to date. Russia now has an eye on increasing tourism from the rest of the world.
Readers of this site will be aware of the constant hysterical warmongering and hyperbole that Western politicians and their cohorts in the pliant mainstream media churn out day after day. One of the best ways to counter this misinformation war waged by the West is to allow people to easily visit Russia and see what it is like for themselves.
And who doesn’t want a selfie on Red Square?
Only when more people begin to visit Russia will the skewed perception of Russia abroad change. Visitors will see that much of what they read and hear in their local media is patently false and concocted for purely political reasons.
Relaxing visa restrictions means easy travel, especially for Europeans who are only a budget flight away. Over time, more contact between Europeans and Russians will improve political relations. It is hard for politicians to sell us lies about places we have actually been to. Western media will then find it harder to recycle the ludicrous US State Department propaganda we see daily in our newspapers now.
If Russia is to develop the tourism industry it tells us it wants, things need to change faster. Instead of occasionally tinkering around the edges of the visa system to allow for sporting events and cruise arrivals to specified ports with a host of conditions, it is time Russia’s visa system had root and branch reform.
Tourist visas could easily be issued on arrival; fingerprints could be taken at the same time. Invitations and registration need to be scrapped altogether. They are relics of the Cold War and serve little practical purpose today. An online visa waiver system, similar to what the US uses would work far better. Oleg Safonov from Rosturism gets this.
If Russia is going to have wider appeal to tourists, the visa system needs urgent radical reform. It will be impossible for destinations such as Sochi and Crimea to become popular with nearby Europeans if obstacles in the form of the current visa system remain in place.
The time for Russia to act is now. The rouble is currently good value for foreigners. Let people come and spend their money in Russia. Continue reading
The current situation in Ukraine was instigated by the United States. The collapse of the government, the civil war and the installation of a pro-American government, all the consequence of American meddling in the affairs of a country bordering Russia. As usual, the American media played its usual role, selling the government’s version of reality, thus making it easy to cast Putin and the Russians as the bad guys.
The Russian response, the annexation of the Crimea, moving troops near the border, whatever, would all seem reasonable to Americans if a similar crisis was happening in Mexico. Imagine the Russians deciding they didn’t like a Mexican government they claimed was too pro-American and took measures to cause its collapse, then taking an active part to ensure a government friendly to Moscow took its place. That’s what the United States has effectively done in Ukraine.
Too many Americans just don’t understand how the world works and how their own government is the instigator of so much strife in the world. If they can think they sure don’t demonstrate an ability or willingness to do so. If they did they would honestly and rationally conclude that their own government is provoking Russian near intrusions into U.S. airspace.
But since coming to that conclusion would require reading (sorry, no pictures, no tracing your finger slowly across the page, and absolutely no mouthing the words as you read them) and thinking about information more than a few minutes into the past, that’s not gonna happen. So when Americans read about Russian military aircraft flying near U.S. airspace they’re outraged because that’s the easiest reaction.
Maybe that’s exactly what the U.S. government wants. As the article points out, U.S. military surveillance can track Russian military aircraft before they leave Russian airspace. Let them get close and then intercept. Feign outrage and foster fears of Russian aggression. The terrorist bogeyman is getting old so why not return to an old favorite. All governments need a bad guy; if one’s not readily available then fabricate one. As history has demonstrated, the U.S. government is hands down, best at that.
Reaction to these Russian flights just proves what critics of American policy have been saying since the Bush administration cherry-picked “intelligence” to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, taking the United States down a permanent path of financial destruction through stupid, unnecessary and unwinnable military operations.
If another country acted similarly the American government would be ablaze with self-righteous outrage. The media would perform like the trained seal that it is and toot the government’s propaganda horn, riling the American people into an irrational, frothing patriotic fervor. Among the political class there would be calls for economic sanctions and, if the country was small and weak, threats of imminent military action.
And we do that for non-existent threats. General Joseph Dunford, nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Russia an “existential threat” to the United States. No doubt many Americans would, like zombies, nod in agreement, all because of what the media told them about outdated Russian aircraft flying close to U.S. airspace.
Ignoring tangible and ongoing threats to Russian security instigated by the United States over the last quarter century demonstrates that when it comes to American foreign policy and assessing its real consequences, ignorance, arrogance and hypocrisy remains the order of the day. Continue reading