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Naturally, foreigners were viewed as a bridge to the more developed and "civilized" West.
The popular rock group Kombinatsiya summed up in endearing, if flawed, English what was most on Russian girls' minds: "American boy, American joy. " Russian women gained a name for going weak in the knees for anyone from the West.
Initially, women were hoping to find a partner from the United States, then Britain.
Type the Russian words for "get married" or "meet" and "foreigner" into Yandex — the Russian equivalent for Google — and a door opens.
"You can just speak English and heads will turn," said Sean, 26, an English language teacher.
Russian women are also more forward, he says: "You can just be talking to someone and some beautiful girl will come up to you with a chat-up line.
This is a world of dating agencies, psychologists, therapists, etiquette training and self-help courses, all geared towards the question of where to meet and how to keep foreign lovers.
Many of the agencies also offer English language courses and translators to facilitate online communication.