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Russian Ukrainian Adventures Forum Newsletter – Summer 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

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Russia blocks alcohol imports from Ukraine

Russia suspends alcohol imports from Ukraine – consumer rights watchdog

Russia has decided to suspend alcohol imports from Ukraine on August 15. On Wednesday the consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor said there had been a number of breaches in consumer legislation.

The restrictions apply to beer produced by Obolon and SUN Inbev Ukraine, and alcohol from the Ukrainian Distribution Company.

“When scrutinizing imports of vodka, beer and other beverages from Ukraine a number of breaches in consumer protection legislation were discovered,” the watchdog’s statement said.

Rospotrebnadzor said Ukrainian beer doesn’t meet the nutritional value written on the bottles, and its branding broke the rules as it doesn’t have the right alcohol content.

The watchdog cited “numerous violations of the law on protection of consumer rights” as the reason.

Rospotrebnadzor added that the state monitoring of alimentary goods, in particular of vodka and beer, found numerous violations of consumer rights.

Following WTO rules, the information has been sent to the relevant body, the Federal Customs Service and to offices of Rospotrebnadzor across the Russian Federation.

Earlier this month, the watchdog found dangerous substances in Bourbon, a US-made whiskey.

According to the sanitary authority, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey produced by Barton 1792 Distillery Company did not comply with Customs Union technical regulations, although the whiskey label has the Eurasian Conformity, or EAC, mark, used for products on Customs Union member state markets, on it.

Falsified products were found in supplies from Germany, the Czech Republic and France.

On July 29 the watchdog banned the import of Ukrainian fruit and vegetables and canned fish claiming they also broke consumer legislation.

Join the discussion on Russian/Ukrainian sanctions using the comment box below or you can also join in the conversation about the retaliatory sanctions Russia placed on imports on the >>Russian Forums<<. Continue reading

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Russia’s Cunning Plan on Sanctions, Europe and the US.

The Russian President Vladimir Putin has implemented a cunning plan in relation to Europe and their sanctions on Russia. I call it “Right back at ya – watch this!”

“Russia is finished! Sanctions from Obama and the European Union will finished the Russian economy and now it will become the poorest country in the world! Russia can not do anything to answer the West! We will all die”

So love to scream those who do not know about Putin’s cunning plan.

Europeans believed that Russia does not respond to sanctions; but Russia has. The EU will soon feel the pain as they now know that they will lose at least 12 billion euros by being Washington’s puppet.

Putin has decided to act on the principle “I will beat gently, but firmly.” The effects wont take long to be seen.

European politicians have expressed “surprise”, “confusion”, “misunderstanding” and the hope that we can somehow “get out of the logic of sanctions.”

For the European Union, Russia is a key market. The EU’s share in the Russian food imports was 42%, and for the EU, Russia was the largest consumer, after the United States.

It is significant that the European politicians console themselves in the fact that sanctions are only imposed for a year, but the Russian market can be lost forever. Therefore, the damage from the “sanctions” Putin has retaliated with will be long-term.

In addition to the direct economic effect, the Russian sanctions will create permanent political problems. It turns out that Putin has – as Russians say – generously laid out a whole constellation of buttons on the chair – and the European Union will soon think twice about imposing sanctions on Russia.

The fact is that now all the affected countries will require from the European Commission compensation for loss, and the European Commission has to then find an extra 12 billion euros a year – and it can’t.

Finland is asking already for money: Finland is worried it will slip into another economic crisis due to the fact that Russia introduced sanctions against it. The Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb said, “There is the potential that it will be the economic crisis number two,” at a press conference yesterday. It’s funny that the Finnish politician immediately demanded compensation from the European Union: “It is absolutely clear. If sanctions hit Finland disproportionately, we will try to get help from our partners in the EU. he said”

With a flick of the wrist, Putin has turned a few EU countries into clones of Ukraine. They will now also lose money just for the fact that they hate Russia (or believe they should). For Ukraine, this disease has already ended badly, but Finland and other countries will be cured of it quickly.

The treatment with be with the favorite German medicine – budget austerity policy, better known as the “healing by starvation.”

Another headache for the EU is the need to somehow arrest the indirect consequences of Russian sanctions. For example, farmers are unable to repay part of the loans that they have secured via export contracts in Russia.

Some manufacturers will not be able to pay subcontractors, some will have to lay off workers – it’s creating problems; the solution of which requires money. And the most annoying is the fact that it is now or will need to accept the fact that the export potential of the EU is diminished. 10% or so is the food consumed in Russia from European exports. The EU will have to increase subsidies to European producers, so they have a chance in other markets.

The level of subsidies in the EU amounts to 30% already, and to increase it will be very expensive, and the WTO rules will not allow this. For some countries, even the increase in grants won’t help.

For example, the Minister of Agriculture of Poland has already admitted that to replace the Russian market will be extremely difficult. The Europeans do not even have options to respond in kind, because Russia does not export food to Europe.

Russia is a major exporter of grain, but does not sell it in the EU.

With the exception of certain premium goods like French wine, Italian ham and certain cheeses, all food exports from Europe are easily replaced by exports from other countries, or Russian production.

It turns out that for Russia, there is potential for growth of its own production, while for the EU losing money is guaranteed.

There is something to think about. Assessing the long-term problems that arise from the first Russian sanctions, EU bureaucrats are likely to come to the conclusion that it is much more profitable ignore Ukraine and forget about the situation there. It is very possible that such thoughts have already dawned on EU leaders.

Just a few hours after the administration of Russian sanctions, news feeds carried this message:

“We want to overcome the logic of sanctions, we want to sit down with the Russian to the table to jointly discuss further ways of development of Ukraine”, – said the spokesman of the European Commission in Germany, Austrian Richard Kuehnel, RIA “Novosti” with reference to Deutsche Welle.
Russia offered this at the beginning, but, apparently, the Europeans needed a demonstration of political will and proof that Russia can inflict pain, without even touching the gas valve.

They got the proof, and in a rather offensive manner.

One has to be very naive to believe that the Europeans would agree to suffer economic losses for Ukraine. As can be seen from the statement by Kuehnel, they can not even tolerate a couple of weeks in order to “save face” and at least pretend that they care about the problems of Ukrainians more than the problems of their own farmers.

It is possible that we will have to watch the show and it will become quite funny. Washington will put pressure on the European Union and demand the preservation and strengthening of the sanctions, or the European Union will require compensation from the United States.

Extra money, the Americans do not have now they are bombing Iraq again, and so they may be forced to run the printing presses (“quantitative easing”) this autumn for fear of completely undermining the economy.

The most likely scenario is the US and the EU will organise some kind of scheme that could pass for a “diplomatic solution to the issue”, allowing Europeans to wear the halo as peacekeepers.

Russian sanctions have freed the EU from its default feeling of invulnerability and exclusivity.

Understanding that the loss of good relations with Russia is an unaffordable luxury, will greatly help the EU to build a better relationship with Russia, in spite of pressure from Washington. Continue reading

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2013 Musings from Togliatti, Russia: Restaurants & Eating Out.

Eating Out in Togliatti.  When you visit a place, you don’t really want to start cooking do you? So restaurants are going to feature. However, in my experience, this is something Russia hasn’t quite got to grips with yet. We … Continue reading

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2013 Musings from Togliatti: Taxis and getting around in Russia.

Getting around.

When I first went to Togliatti, when you wanted a taxi, you just stood by the road with your hand out and someone would stop. Negotiate a price before you get in and job done.

It always used to concern me the thought that any weirdo could stop and pick up women, and anything might happen. And indeed, sometimes it has done from what I have heard.

Happily, this practice seems to have mostly stopped. Now like anywhere else, you call a taxi, and a few minutes later you get an SMS that tells you what car it will be and how many minutes. Quite efficient really. Prices are really cheap still, anything between £2 and £4 takes you across town.

However, the quality of the said taxis, and the drivers, still leaves much to be desired. Most seem to be the crappiest old Ladas and other budget rubbish available. The quality of repair is terrible. Blowing exhausts, clunking suspension, dodgy brakes, etc. Interiors are generally filthy and the drivers personal hygiene leaves much to be desired. Bloody awful all round.

After the first few days of this, and trying several different firms to find they are all the same, I began looking out for liveried taxis to take a number from. There are some. But again, it often is the case that you take a number from a smartly liveried car, and the usual plain smashed up Lada arrives with foul smelling Ivan at the wheel smoking a Parliament. Cunning trick.

In one of the restaurants we visited, there were some business cards that proclaimed their taxis were “new foreign cars”. But when you call, a foreign car will be an hour, and a smashed up one can be there in minutes. :chuckle:

I expressed concern that I didn’t want my wife and daughter travelling about in a piece of smashed up crap with no brakes, even if it is £2. There must be a proper firm out there somewhere.

My wife asked a girl she knows who she calls a “new Russian” and got a number of a firm called ‘Elite’: 702 702.

And guess what arrived? A brand new Chevrolet with aircon, with a rather fetching young lady driver! And she was a good driver too – which makes a change there. So that’s the taxi problem solved. :nod:

Not all drivers at that company are women, but the cars are generally better than most and the drivers are not smoking and juggling two mobile phones and a taxi radio whilst driving. As all the cars are liveried, they are image conscious one told my wife when asked. The price was just the same as a smashed up one. That wont last…..

For the hell of it, we took a trolleybus on a couple of occasions. These have not been updated yet and are still the creaking rattling relics of yesteryear. They are ridiculously cheap. Pennies.

I suspect the new liveried taxis are where local travel is heading, and the smashed up taxi will soon become a thing of the past. As soon as the local cops cotton on to the fact that taxis in bad condition are easy targets for fines, as are people on phones, I reckon they will be forced off the road in a changing Russia. Continue reading

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Thinking About a Russian or Ukrainian Woman? Get The Russian Bride Guide.

A beautiful, slim, good-hearted woman as a wife is just a dream for most men. How hard is it to marry one from your country? An educated one? One with good traditional family values? One who doesn’t think she is … Continue reading

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