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Russophobe January 26, 2007
Roving Russophobe

It was only a few years ago that to hear a Russian voice in Paris, Milan or Barcelona was an exciting anomaly - now, they're everywhere. And everyone finally understands now just exactly what it means to host Russians. For example, I recently noticed a sign in Grenoble Airport, announcing not in French but in Russian, in giant Cyrillic letters, that "Drinking is forbidden in the airport concourse," with small English and French translations underneath. There is clearly something wrong with the Schengen visa policy - the whole of Europe is crawling with badly-behaved Russians. It's high time that things were tightened up - perhaps a quota system could be introduced whereby each EU country only gave out, say, 50 visas per year to Russians?

One of the great unspoken tragedies of the Russian oil boom is the extent to which Russians are now able to travel to real countries. It's not a pretty sight, watching them marauding through European shopping capitals, Alpine ski resorts, and Turkish holiday towns. Seeing them staggering onto their Aeroflot flights laden with 27 bags of duty free booze is like watching some kind of hideous reality TV show where some poor jungle savage is suddenly given bucketloads of cash and told to go wild in the civilized world.

Sadly, my home town is one of the worst affected areas in the world of this Russian-traveler-outbreak. You can't walk five paces in London these days without a Russian voice making you wince. Whether it's oligarchs buying up half of Kensington or provincial sluts working as cleaners, dancers, whores and waitresses, the Russians really are everywhere. With the Baltics joining the EU, the numbers of ethnic Russians in London has soared even higher - you know there's something wrong with your country's immigration policy when ethnic Russians can turn up and get work legally.

Amazingly, though, despite this demographic nightmare most Londoners seem oblivious to the Slavic Plague that has hit their city, and are far more concerned about Londonistan than Londonograd, which is frankly absurd. True, the Arab/Pakistani lot don't get laid enough, so they take out their sexual frustrations by occasionally deciding to blow up a train or call for death to all infidels...but by and large, they're a quiet, friendly bunch, and they provide some damn good restaurants. Compare this to the hordes of Slavs buying up elitny properties and football clubs, putting polonium in people's sushi rolls, and generally behaving like thugs. On a recent visit home I popped down to the local Indian shop to get a few of their tasty extra-spicy samosas, only to find that the place had been shut down and replaced with a "Russo-Polish Delicatessen" - something of a misnomer seeing as these people wouldn't know a delicacy if it hit them over the head - selling pelmeni, Baltika and dried fish. What next, I wondered - the local curry house serving Murg Dill Masala with optional mayonnaise?

Then you have those countries that really have no self-respect at all. Take Turkey for example - it's already full of hideous sunburned Australians named "Simon," incapable of talking about anything except surfing and beer, who are on a moving Efes-fuelled odyssey to Gallipoli to see the spot where Mel Gibson and some other inhabitants of their wretched little prison island died in World War One.

So presumably the Turks thought, "Well, we've already lost our dignity by letting this rabble of cultureless heathens in, so we may as well let in Russians too - maybe we can even shag some of their women." As it is, Russians have been working as whores in Turkey, where they're collectively known as "the Natashas", for years. And let's face it, when you're collectively working as Gastarbeiters for the Turks, your nation is pretty damn shitty - it's like being housekeepers for Filipinos.

As anyone who's been to Turkey knows, the bazaars are full of hirsute Ahmets and Mehmets who have nothing better to do with their time than make disgusting sleazy remarks to any foreigner with a pair of tits. Of course, any girl from a civilized country just tells them to fuck off, but the Russian dyevs absolutely love it. You can just imagine the look of surprise on some greasy kebab vendor when his dirty little comment is met by Olga and Sveta with flirtatious smiles rather than abuse. In fact, Turkish men were the number one nationality for Russian women to marry into last year.

The list goes on and on. The only advice for Russophobes is that you can usually avoid the worst of them by steering clear of the most obvious, disgusting resorts and sticking to places of actual interest. For example - go to Egypt and actually leave the hotel, and the Russians will soon thin out. A girl in my office recently went to Sharm El Sheikh but had no interest in seeing Cairo ("dirty") or even the Pyramids ("too far away"). Give a Russian the choice between a mysterious, bustling city; a religious and cultural center; monuments that take the breath away and have fascinated travelers for centuries - or another day boozing cheap whisky on a condom-infested beach flirting with some wannabe frat-boys from Murmansk - and they'll go for the latter every time.

Failing that, you could always move to Tbilisi - now officially a Russian-free zone. It's the number one hotspot for Russophobes this season. True, it's former Soviet, but you can rest assured in the knowledge that anyone who arrives with that mauve Rossiskaya Federatsiya passport is going to be harassed at the airport, possibly worse. And that's a thought that should definitely help you to sleep soundly at night.

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