The strange accounts of three homeless foreigners in Russia

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December 16, 2017 – FRN – 

RIA Novosti – translated by Inessa Sinchougova 

This story is of three individuals from England, Greece and South Africa who several years ago became homeless in Russia. They sleep where they can, eat what they can organise with local cafes and restaurants. But none of them want to leave Russia – they are satisfied with the present life, away from their homeland, despite the difficulties. A correspondent of RIA Novosti talked to the homeless individuals and found out why they did not want to return home.

The smitten lover

Nick (the name was changed at their request) has been living in Moscow for five years, and he’s been homeless for two years. He has British citizenship, but considers himself Russian and wants to live only in Moscow. “Russia gave me the love of life: I moved here for my girl Yulia, we lived for three years together, then she kicked me out, without my documents” the Englishman says.

Nick does not consider himself a homeless person, although he does not have a home and can not comfortably buy himself breakfast, lunch, nor dinner. “There are many opportunities to live in Moscow without much money, I can wash clothes in special places, sleep in special housing and eat for free. Volunteer work with homeless people is developed here. People usually treat me well, but only when I’m clean and looking neat. If not, you can get scolded and even kicked, but that’s the little things. “

According to the Brit, he tried to work full-time, but without documents it’s impossible to get permanent work. “I speak Russian well enough, so sometimes I wear clean clothes and go to work as a private tutor for 200-300 rubles. I even have a labor contract, so from the legislative point of view everything is in order, I just live on the street, “- shares Nick.

The man lives in the area where his beloved’s house is located. He sees her from time to time. “I do not blame her for anything, I like my life, it’s more interesting than just living and going to the office,” the foreigner shrugs.

Nick has no desire to return home. “My mother was against communication with Yulia from the very beginning, now my friends know that I’m in Russia. I found a phone on the street and was able to activate it, so I can talk to my family that way. They certainly do not know what way of life I lead. If they become aware of this, they will force me back home,” he fears.

Every day Nick goes for a walk to one of the Moscow parks – Kolomenskoye or Tsaritsyno. After that, he, according to an agreement with the owner of a local cafe, eats mashed potatoes and hot soup. Sometimes there is a “feast of the stomach” – the Englishman says, meatballs.

“I do not actually like tutoring English, but without it will be extra hard.” Once he accumulated enough money and brought Yulia a bouquet of flowers and put it under her door, “she took it and even allowed me to come in.” – he admits.

Life in Russia, according to Nick, is more complicated than in Britain, but choosing between the two countries, he undoubtedly prefers the first. “Russia is harsh, but even such a worthless person as I can survive here, I do not want to be homeless all my life and I’ll certainly get out of it. I need to learn to speak Russian better, then I can charge more for classes, and maybe, I’ll rent an apartment, and then life will improve,” the United Kingdom national said.

Greetings from Africa

Salim is from South Africa, and has been living in Russia for about 15 years. At first he handed out leaflets for a living, then he worked as a cleaner. This year his passport became invalid, he lost his job but he did not want to return home. Salim made the decision: “It is better to be a homeless person in Russia than to live in poverty in your country.”

“Homelessness in Russia is more than a regular citizen in my country has, I hardly ever imagined I would be here – but moving is the best thing that happened to me in my entire life,” says Salim.

He tells his relatives that he lives and works in Moscow, earning 5,000 rubles a month. “It’s better to lie in my position, I’m free in Russia, I do not have anyone controlling me. I stay near the Belarusian railway station, so volunteers often give me food and drink,” says the African.

Among the homeless he found friends – Dima and Egor. They helped him get comfortable, shared advice, and sometimes food. “Dima and Egor are great guys, they help me speak Russian, they tell me how to travel around the city and where to get food, the only negative is that they drink .I still do not understand how they get money for vodka, but they drink a lot and often” , – shares Salim.

The African now thinks only about how to survive the winter. “It is scary to know that I am almost alone on the planet and I myself do not need anyone, I guess that much is true. But I eventually want to change everything. I want to get Russian citizenship and work again. I want my family to visit one day” he admits. Salim dreams of reading Dostoevsky without a dictionary.

Myths of Ancient Greece

Greek Miko is homeless from St. Petersburg. He came from Greece about 20 years ago, but when he lost his business, his wife said that he “was a loser… She took the children and left, I owed a large sum to the banks, so I lost my apartment and stayed on the street. I do not want to return to Greece, I’m too used to the Russians and Russia. “

Miko was born and raised in Greece, but at the age of 30 he decided that everything needed to change and moved to Russia. He has two citizenships – Greek and Russian. “I live with two passports, which are still valid. I am Greek, but here I am more comfortable than at home. Over the years, I lost the accent, I write competently in Russian and do not have any problems in communication,” he says.

In the current situation, according to the Greek, he is very much helped by the St. Petersburg organization “Nochlezhka”, as well as the remaining ties in business. So, sometimes he stays with his friends, who provide him with everything necessary for the day.

Food is easy for him to get: either special night buses that provide hot food or arrangements with restaurants and cafes. He notes that “it is not necessary to eat food from the garbage dump if homeless in Russia.”

“Last year I was able to go to Greece with my relatives, they almost guessed what my lifestyle is now, but of course I still do not want to go back.” Maybe I will one day move and be warm by the sea when I get old. But Russia is more promising,” the man is convinced.

Miko, strangely, compares his current lifestyle with a kind of vacation, accumulated during hard work. “I worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which resulted in mental trauma. Now I am recovering physically and morally, I will definitely return to the normal world and live not on the street, but in an apartment,” believes Miko.

Inessa Sinchougova is an Editor and Journalist at Fort Russ News, as well as a research fellow and translator of the Belgrade based think-tank, the Center for Syncretic Studies. She was educated at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), in the field of Political Science and was previously employed in Marketing and Communications Strategy for a Multi-National Corporation. She runs a popular YouTube channel for translations of key Russian Foreign Policy figures and appears regularly on other alternative media channels. If you like her work, you can support her Patreon here.

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