Letter: To Russia - with a sense of humour

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Sir: I too have enjoyed the descriptions of East European cities in your advertisements ('Independent/Lufthansa two-for-one offers') and am grateful for Glen Kilday's letter (3 October) about the problems of tourism in Kiev, which has restored my belief in reality.

I do not wish people to think that cities such as Moscow and St Petersburg are not suitable destinations, but they should consider some degree of forward planning. Independent travel is not a good idea unless you have a good knowledge of the language, a strong constitution and a well- developed sense of humour.

Perhaps I am of too few years to remember popular usage of the word 'spiv', used by your travel editor, Simon Calder, to describe certain inhabitants of Moscow, but I have learnt during some 20 visits to Russia, working with homeless children, that the locals have a much more endearing name for such people: Mafia.

For those wishing to see Lenin's mausoleum as directed, enjoy the view from the outside. It has been closed for months.

Yours faithfully,


General Director, Russia '93 Caring Hands

Erith, Kent