This Europe: From Russia with love but beware
Tuesday 25 June 2002
For some it is a match made in heaven, for others it's a nightmare in cyberspace.
Growing numbers of Russian women are turning to the internet to meet Western men. Matrimonial agencies in Moscow take a small fee to post a woman's picture, CV and romantic needs on a website.
Alevtina Ivanova is a veteran of half-a-dozen cyber-relationships with British, French and American men in as many years and works as an adviser to DiOritz, a large matchmaking agency.
"Unfortunately, in our collapsed economy few men are able to support a family properly," she says. "Russian men lack confidence, they become fatalistic, they drink, they die young."
Chris, a middle-aged US businessman who is visiting Moscow to meet "several very nice ladies" he contacted over the internet, says Russian women had never heard of feminism. "They want to have a man, a family, the whole old-fashioned trip," he said. But Western men increasingly report being ripped off by women who write sweet e-mails, send sexy photos, get cash "for a ticket", then disappear.
Russian women insist they face the greatest hazards. "You come to a strange country, to meet a man you've only corresponded with by e-mail," Ms Ivanova says. "There are issues of language, culture and personal morality. It takes a lot of trust, and for some women it goes badly wrong."
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