Landlocked by Communist rule for years, Russians were denied life's many pleasures, especially travel. But now as the middle class grows strong, they have money to spend and are taking it to the beaches of Turkey.
A mini-industry has popped up on the Turkish coast that has begun to cater to the whims of Russian tourists. The New York Times explored this trend in an article on one popular resort, Kremlin Palace Hotel, which they described as "Las-Vegas-does-Moscow by-the-shore extravaganza." This picture looks every bit as . . . glitzy as it sounds!
But what's more important is what traveling abroad illuminates about the new Russia. Between 1995 and 2006, the number of Russians traveling abroad grew from 2.6 to 7.1 million — a 4.5 million increase — according to the Russian government.
Under Soviet rule, citizens were held back by bureaucratic passport lines that, even if approved, required classes on proper behavior and avoiding foreign influence. Those who were not in the government's good grace stood little chance of leaving, and even those that were and gained approval required chaperons across borders. While restrictions eased in the post-Soviet era, few Russians could afford to go anywhere.
Vladimir Putin, the former president and current prime minister, is largely credited for Russian's newfound normalcy, prosperity, and ability to travel. Though Russian's are spreading their post-Communist wings, one famous face has joined up. To see how,
Most remember Elián González as the tiny face of those fleeing communist Cuba, that battle was eight years ago — and Elian has joined up — Cuba’s Young Communist Union, that is.
Now 14, Elián was 6 when Miami relatives lost their fight to keep him in the United States, and he returned to Cuba in mid-2000 with his father. After surviving the battle and the boating accident off the Florida coast that killed his mother trying to reach the United States, he was among 18,000 people who joined the group this weekend.
After all that Elián experienced, why did he join up? Will seeing greater post-Communist freedoms tempt those still involved?