Russian women are created for marriage

MOSCOW — On a single jasmine-shaded block in the Syrian port city of Latakia, Natalya lives three doors apart from Nina, two from Olga, along a narrow street from Tatyana, and a brief walk from Yelena, Faina and Nadezhda. They are all women in the former Soviet Union who wed Syrian guys. Pan out to the larger expanse of both Syria and the number of Russian wives develops to 20,000, the human legacy of a cold war alliance that, beginning in the 1960s, mingled its young elites in Soviet dormitories and classrooms.

This unusual diaspora offers some insight into the many-stranded relationship between the 2 nations, one that creates the Kremlin reluctant to cast off Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Russia has strategic interests in Syria, including arms contracts that amount to $700 million a year, and a tiny port on the Mediterranean Sea that is its final military base outside the former Soviet Union.

However, there’s also a human factor, set in movement 50 years ago when social ties were forged among young men and women who met in school. Walk into any government ministry or even company headquarters in Syria and you will almost surely find guys who spent their 20s in Russia; lots of attracted home wives and increased kids in Russian-speaking families.


As the conflict in Syria has been defy a diplomatic alternative, there are an estimated 30,000 Russian citizens residing there, most women and children, Russian government officials estimate. This is an issue that Moscow has faced in the Middle East, when the collapse of Soviet-allied authorities left Russian taxpayers stranded. But it’s not faced anything on those proportions, or in the russian women for marriage age of social media, when the plight of ethnic Russians can prove a serious embarrassment to Moscow.

"Based on the current experience of evacuation from Lebanon and Palestine in the past several years, issues always arise — though there we weren’t referring to thousands or tens of thousands of individuals, but a few hundred," said Yelena Suponina, a Moscow political analyst specializing in the Middle East. The job of evacuating Russians from Syria, she said, "would be 100 times worse. "

The Russian population in Syria is the end result of an experiment begun in 1963, when the socialist Baath Party came to power. The Soviets supplied education to high students from Asia, Africa and Latin America, throwing them together with Soviet allies in work brigades and "evenings of friendship. "

The aim was to forge a global, pro-Soviet intellectual elite; the immediate effect was weddings. Young women emigrated since the wives of physicians, professors and professors; "the Soviet side said farewell to them and essentially gave them up for lost," said Natalya Krylova, a historian who has published widely on Russian populations in Africa.

Syrian-Russian marriages were especially common — and not just for geopolitical reasons, husbands and wives said in interviews. Mahmoud al-Hamza, who met his wifeNadezhda, in a Moscow park in 1971, said that in order to marry a Syrian, "you need an apartment, you need to pay money, you need to buy gold, and to get a Russian woman you just need a wedding ring. "

Soviet women had their own reasons to pursue Syrians — nondrinkers who, due to the Baath Party’s ties to the Communists, traveled in and from the Soviet Union. A new wave of unions followed the Soviet collapse, as young women sought a way out of financial chaos.

"Let all the world hear that: Russian guys, maybe not all of them, but more than half of them are gigolos," said Roksana Dzhenid, who wed Wa’el, a businessman, in 2000, and resides with him in Moscow. He gained too, she noticed, by escaping the intense family ties that have a Syrian bride.

"If there’s a quarrel, what would a Russian woman do? She’ll shout," she said. "Maximum, she’ll visit her friend and say, ‘He is such and such. ‘ And what will an Arab woman do? She’ll gather a posse of her relatives. She might run at night to her husband’s sister and mother and start crying. "

Taha Abdul Wahed, a journalist who married a Russian woman and resides out Damascus, said the phenomenon was so visible that in the last few years, even young guys who have never set foot in Russia have begun "to telephone us very seriously and say, ‘Help me marry a Russian. ‘ "

Russian-Syrian households were attracted into a bitter conflict 16 weeks ago, when Mr. Assad’s government began a harsh crackdown on antigovernment protests. The opposition has since turned into an armed insurgency. Russia blames outside elements for its bloodshed and stands behind the authorities, continuing to provide Syria with arms and obstructing international efforts to induce Mr. Assad from office.

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