Health in Russia

by Craig De Mott

I first came to Russia in 1993, and came face to face with how Russians live. Though it was after the fall of the Soviet Union, much of how Russians did things continues up to this time. In fact, in many parts of Russia, life has changed little for them, in terms of quality of life.

Having studied Natural Hygiene many years previously, I looked at the health of the Russian people from this perspective. Back in 1993, there was little in the way of modern supermarkets in Moscow. The few that did exist mostly catered to the foreign community and the New Russians, or 'Novy Russki,' as they call it.

Food purchased by Russians, including myself, were from the Soviet type supermarkets and vendors on the street. In the 'supermarkets,' one had to go to one department, wait in line, tell the clerk what you wanted, go to the cashier to pay, and return to the head of the line to pick up your purchase. So, if you wanted fruits/vegetables, meat, bread, and cheese, you would have to repeat this process four times. And since it took an average of 15 minutes in each line, just to do shopping took a long time. The longest I had to wait in line was 40 minutes. However, under Communism, the average wait was longer, and the choices were fewer than in 1993.

Some of the food back then I wouldn't give to a dog. This was mostly the meat and fish, which I didn't eat, but nonetheless, many Russians did. Much of the fruits and vegetables would have been sold at a discount back in the US -- good enough to eat, but not the best.

Today (1999), more modern supermarkets have been built, but they are still fewer in number then would be expected for a city of nine million people. Many stores are small, and the larger ones are also owned individually -- which is good, but I'll get more into that later. The other choice of buying food is from the vendors on the street.

In 1993, there was not much in the way of imports, except at your larger, better equipped stores. Now, even the small vendors on the street sell products from all over the world.

Fruits and vegetables are available all year long, with prices about the same as in the United States. In some cases, the prices here are cheaper, especially if it's home-grown. The produce grown in warmer climates comes from Georgia, the Ukraine, and Israel, among other places. However, food such as bananas from South America are also imported. Russians love bananas, and they are available all year long.

Food which is grown in Russia include apples, plums, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, and potatoes. These foods are grown not only on farms, but also by individuals in their back yards. In addition, many people raise their own chickens, cows, and goats.

The produce sold comes from commercial farms, imported produce, as well as what they personally have grown on their land. Some people don't even have a booth to sell their food, but just a box that is set up somewhere near a store, bus stop, or other busy area. Often these people are the elderly on pension who try to make what little money they can on their measly $20 a month income, which often comes late.

No franchises in Russia

Most people in the US and Europe think franchises are great. Thus, when they come to Russia, they think of the disadvantage the Russians have by not offering such services. I look at it a different way, and so do many other people. The fact the big franchises haven't moved in -- with a few exceptions -- helps out the small person. Here, you can see people who are poor trying to earn an honest living.

So, with little money, they rent a kiosk, or, if they have more money, open a small store. From there, they can support their families. In the U.S., it would be unthinkable for most people to buy something on the street, or in a building where they have many such booths, from a poor person. Americans are all conditioned to go to a supermarket, or hyper-store (they've grown so huge they have to call it by another name).

Working for one person for two years, I often passed a couple who had a booth on the street selling food. They had a used Russian car in need of repair at the time; by next year, they had a new foreign import.

How many 'mom and pop' shops have closed up because some corporate giant with billions of dollars moved in and put others out of business?

The same thing applies with other types of business. I often see a person selling video tapes from a table in the underpass in the metro. In a year or two, that person has a kiosk where things are presented better. I'm sure some of them moved up to a small store. And, there were many such people selling the same thing in the same area. How many of them would have been able to 'pull themselves up by the boot-strap' if Blockbusters were in Russia? Hardly any!

Produce is better then in the West

In general, the produce sold in Russia is better than what you can buy in multi-million dollar supermarkets in the United States. What is grown by individuals is almost always free from pesticides/insecticides, as individuals don't have the money to buy such chemicals -- thank God. However, even that which is grown on farms in Russia, as well as some imports is better tasting. Some of the imports come from the CIS states, which, in turn, are also free of chemicals, or less is used (at least that is how they taste).

For example, the tomatoes are juicy and sweet; the apples are sweet or sour, depending on the variety; other produce seem to have their full flavor. Even in the winter, where all produce are imported, the tomatoes, for example, are much better tasting and have their natural softness, as compared to what you can buy in the U.S., which are green-house, chemically grown and genetically altered.

Among the produce sold in the markets are grains of various types. For example, nearly everywhere you can buy millet, barley, grits, etc. In the US, I only saw them in health food stores. The reason for this is that most people use this to make their own cereals. Russia doesn't produce such cereals. They don't have the money, and, perhaps have more common sense -- in this area -- than to pay $3 for a box of cereal when they can buy enough to make five times the amount for 50 cents.

Due to custom, personal tastes, and economics, people buy the whole bulk grain, boil it in water or milk -- depending on their preference -- and eat. Though this type of food isn't the best for them, it is much better than if they bought food from Kelloggs or General Mills.

Millet, for example, costs about 45 cents for one kilo (2.2 pounds). Other grains are similarly priced.

In the US and most other nations, it would be illegal to sell raw milk and cheese, claiming that this is bad for your health (which, in fact, is bad for food processors' profits). However, in Russia, this is allowed. The food does not go bad quickly, as claimed by the US government. I've seen goats' cottage cheese last a week. But in the US, such foods have to last a month -- hence, the preservatives.

Anyhow, my heart is joyed to see poor honest people trying to make an honest ruble -- or, preferably, a dollar -- by selling what they produce on their dachas, or small farms. You can buy fresh cow's milk that is not pasteurized/homogenized. The cottage cheese is natural, made without plaster of paris, as used in the US.

Hygienically speaking, I know that dairy products aren't good for you, but at least for those who do eat them, they're not as bad as the counterpart in the West. And, what's more important, is that people who have very little money can bring their produce to market.

Under the oppressive laws that the U.S. has, this would not be possible. Maybe for home consumption, but not for sale. Well, poor people can only consume so much of what they make, so they have to sell the extra. This money is then used to buy what they don't grow, or other non-food items.

In the U.S., many people have either had to close down their goat or chicken raising business because it doesn't comply with a multitude of 'sanitation' laws. In Russia, such is not the case. If this is bad for the health of the people, why don't they get sick after eating it? In fact, such growing of animals went on like this for millenniums, without ill effects.

Life on the 'dacha'

There are many people who live in Moscow who have a country house, or their parents having one. Naturally, there are many who don't own a home in the country and thus they have no means to make extra money or to supplement their food. For these people, life is really hard.

For those who have a dacha, the home is often small, with a yard size of about 100 feet by 100-125 feet. Of course, the size varies, but often the yard size is that of an average urban home in the US. The homes are often old, with construction inferior to western standards. The electricity is an electrician's nightmare, with bad wiring, few electrical sockets, and an uncertain steady supply of electricity in many of your smaller towns. Even in the apartments in the wealthiest city in Russia -- Moscow -- the wiring needs improvement.

My first impression when I was taken to a friend's dacha in 1993 was one of amazement. I never saw a home like that before. I'd traveled throughout the US, and in several countries of Europe before, but I hadn't seen architecture like this. It seemed like something on a Hollywood film set.

Many have ornate window frames, and awnings, which is what made it different in a strange way, but something else, which made it different in a sad way, was the age and rundown condition of the homes. Most of these homes look like dilapidated hunting lodges. Just about all the fences are wooden picket ones, while some have just slats of boards hanging on posts.

The inside of the homes I've been in were all clean, so don't conclude that these people are dirty. They are poor, but that doesn't affect their cleanliness, either in their home or their person.

The interiors of most homes are filled with just the basic furniture, and most of it is Russian made and of poor quality. Then on top of that, there is the wear-and-tear of years of use. Most things that were made in Russia are of the same design. Thus, if you see something in someone's home, the chances are that millions of other Russians have the identical item. This is the result of a controlled economy under Communism, rather than a market economy.

For many Americans, this would turn them off -- seeing the material poverty of the people -- but for me, and many other foreigners who have come to know the Russians, it doesn't. Whenever one is invited to a Russian home, the first thing you do is take off your shoes -- to keep the rest of the home clean. Then you are greeted with their hospitality and warmness.

Though they are poor, they offer the best thing in their home to you, something that they've been saving for such a moment, and which might cost them a weeks' salary or more. Such as their best wine, or a can of caviar. They lavish their table with all sorts of food, if you are invited for dinner. Even if you just drop by for a chat, they often offer you tea and something to eat. Russians are most gracious in making you feel at home. It is this friendliness that attracted me and many others to Russia.

The fact that they are poor, they are still proud. They often wear nice clothes which are clean. When I say nice, I don't mean Italian or French name brands, but clothes that look nice, though the price may be very low. Naturally, those who can afford European clothes buy them.

The sheds or small barns that many people have in the back of their homes look like they would go up in smoke at any time. Fortunately, things are carefully done in and around the buildings, so you don't have whole neighborhoods going up in flames.

The tools they use for farming are also old and in need of replacement. When I say old, they are also made of poor quality materials, as most things made in Russia are. Many still have tools that were made under the Soviet Union, making them last as long as possible. Many firms that produced tools have closed. It is with these old wooden hand tools that people have to make their living with. For the majority of Russians, all work on the garden is done by hand tools. Electric tools, gas powered tillers and such are beyond the reach of most Russians So, it is very labor intensive. Still, they manage to elk out a living.

Many roads, even in towns near Moscow are in a bad state of repair, while other roads, are still without asphalt. The main roads which are in the Moscow region are in better shape, but travelling any distance from Moscow can be a nightmare.

The telephone system in many parts of Russia go back to the 1920s. Even areas in Moscow, the technology goes back to the 1930s. Thus, most people have difficulty calling if they live in small towns, with lines often not in service. In Moscow, it's better, but you still have slow transmission of the Internet, for example. Also, in this the 'wealthiest city' in Russia, everyone has only one phone. To get another one in your home is next to impossible. Thus, a fax line is shared with the same line as the phone.

In many small towns and villages, people don't even have a phone. To get one, you have to wait until someone dies (it seems), and only then are you put on a waiting list. And then it still takes a few years to get! I know one lady who lives in Vorkuta (a city of 150,000 people), where she had to pay $400 so she wouldn't have to wait so long (she had already waited two years). This extra money is nothing more than a bribe. My girlfriend, who has an apartment in a small town, which is about a 15 minute ride outside of Moscow, doesn't have a phone, and said it would cost $1,000 to get one!

So, you can see how 'backward' Russia is. In fact, when travelling to some of these places, it's like being back in the middle of the 19th century in some respects. The only reminder of it being the end of the 20th century are the few new cars you see, some new appliances in the homes, etc.

My girlfriend's dacha

My girlfriend's dacha is actually her parents' dacha, which is in the town of Snegire is about 40 kilometres north-west of Moscow. This is where the German advancement stopped during World War II. In fact, they have a monument and park near this town with old tanks from Russia and Germany that were used during the war. This town can be reached by car, bus, or electric train. By train, it takes about 40 minutes, as there are many other stops along the way.

May 1st is the traditional day where people from the city head out to their country homes to start their gardens. For those who have cars, they are loaded up with tools, plants and other materials needed to start their yearly ritual of 'returning to the soil,' as it were. Whereas most people travel by train and bring what they can in bags, backpacks, and little dollies.

Almost every home uses every space it can to grow what they can. Space is not wasted by having evergreens and aspens, as this is used for fruit trees. The average garden is divided up by different sections for potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, tomatoes, squash, garlic, onions, dill, and cloves.

Flowers are not forgotten, either, as this is something to bring a little cheer in their lives. The trees are usually apples, plums and cherries. This is what my girlfriend, Marina's, parents have, and so it is with millions of other Russians.

For some people, they just live in their country homes in the summer, whereas others, live there all year long. Thus, it's not their 'dacha,' as this means country home in Russian, but actual home. For those who have children that are not too busy with work or live too far way, they come out and help their parents.

Marina's parents, Nadeshda and Vasily, also raise chickens and goats, as do many other Russians. Some have a cow or two on their small lot of land. Her parents also have a 'banya,' (steam room). This Russians love. They also have a greenhouse that is made of a metal frame with plastic covering. This is used to grow tomatoes and cucumbers, as sometimes it gets too cold at night for them to survive without protective covering. They also rent a plot of land nearby where they grow some of the same vegetables that they do in their back yard.

Spring through fall, Nadeshda walks her four goats to a nearby field in the morning for a few hours of grazing. Then returns with her 'children' leading the way home. Nadeshda and Vasily are kept busy by gardening, cleaning the chicken coup, goat stalls, feeding the animals, making repairs as needed, and of course, keeping up with the house work. Though they are on pension, so work on the 'farm' is more demanding than their former city job.

Throughout the year, they sell goats milk, goat cottage cheese and eggs. The vegetables and fruit, they keep for themselves, and give some to their two daughters. They also give them some of the milk, cheese, and eggs. Nadeshda takes care of the bookkeeping, so she does see that they make a profit. However, the profit is very little, as this is a very labor intensive operation.

For the goat cottage cheese she gets only 15 rubles a kilogram (about 62 cents). In the city, cows' cottage cheese -- 'made on the farm' -- goes for about $1 a kilogram. This, of course, is not as good as goat cheese. Normally, goat cheese would sell for more, but this is all she can get in her town, as most of the people are poor. She doesn't make enough to go to the city to sell it, so she settles for this price.

This is the situation that most people are in. There are large and expensive homes in her town, but they buy their food in stores, as price is no object. It is safe to say that the people who own these homes are mostly those in the mafia, or government officials that take bribes.

Russians have always lived under a bad government. For most of the time under the tsars, Russians were mere serfs, with some freedom coming under Alexander II and Nicolas II. Then there was the terrorist regime of Communists leaders. Since perastyoka, there has been freedom of the press, assembly, ownership of private property, etc. But for millions of Russians, life is actually worse than when they lived under Communism.

Without going into too much detail, the reasons for this involves the criminals both in and out of government. People who are on pension are paid an average of $20/mo, with many receiving their cash late (they don't have a bank checking system in Russia). Those that are working are paid very little. For example, teachers in Russia get an average of $100/mo. Then they have to wait months to receive this, with inflation eating away at what little they have before they get it.

Directors of firms run them as if they were their own personal businesses and pay very little or nothing in exchange, claiming they are not making any money, while at the same time they are driving around town in their Mercedes Benzs, Jeep Cherokees, travelling the world, and living in luxurious apartments.

Unlike Americans, who wouldn't put up with this, Russians keep working for less money than it takes to feed and cloth themselves, all the time hoping that someday things will be better. Under these conditions, many people would not survive if it wasn't for growing their own food, knowing how to preserve it, etc. This all resulted because of their history of criminal political leaders. Even under Communism, people were allowed to have their own lots. Making a business of what they raised or grew that was not allowed. However, many did this anyway, by secretly selling or trading with friends and family.

Some of the foods that are preserved are cucumbers and tomatoes. With cucumbers, it's a tricky process to salt and seal them, as the top can blow if not done right. Carrots, beets, potatoes, and apples are kept in cellars, where it is cool and dark. So, along with the cooked and salted food that they heavily rely on in the winter, they also have some fresh food. Many Russians, like Nadeshda, don't have a full cellar, but just small dug out area where such food is stored. This is accessed under the floor boards of the house. This way, the food is kept at the right temperature, and not exposed to minus 20 or 30 degree Celsius temperatures that Russia usually gets.

General food availability

The general food availability in Russia has improved with the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, fresh fruits and vegetables are available all year long. There are more places to buy such food, and gone are the long lines. As mentioned earlier, in general, the fresh produce is better than in the United States. This is due in part, that a large percentage is supplied by individuals selling what they grow on their dachas, as well as those who have small farms. The one advantage of being poor is, that you don't have the money to buy the pesticides, herbicides and genetically altered food that is used in the West. Also, with many of the countries that food is imported from, they use less chemicals and hybrid seeds. This, of course, affects not only the taste, but the health of the consumers. So, this is definitely one plus for Russia.

Last year I was in a town called Vorkuta on business. This is located in the far north, about 1,200 miles north-east from Moscow. Vorkuta, with a population of about 150,000 people, is located at the 67 parallel. To give you an idea how far north that is, look at the map of Alaska, and take a place that is midway between Fairbanks and the Bering Sea -- that is how far north it is! There I found fresh fruits and vegetables. However, I cannot speak the same for smaller towns scattered throughout Siberia and other places. I would assume that the supply would be less or only available certain times of the year. I'm sure that the smaller and less economically important towns in Russia have a shortage of fresh produce.

There are many people doing without food, or having to rely on poor quality food, but this is not the result of a food shortage, despite what the media says. As with matters of health, so it is with other political/economic/social issues -- the media lies. Living in Russia for four years, I know. The problem is not with food shortage, as it is with a lack of money to buy it.

Western food aid

This year brought a flurry of new reports about Russian 'food shortage,' and that there is starving in the country. The first part is a lie, the second part is true, but it's not because of the so-called food shortage, as there isn't any. It's because of a lack of money that most people have. Some articles told us that there is a shortage of grain, that bread and other products made with grain has gone up in price; that not enough people can buy this. Well, the facts are this: Grain supplies were down, but not enough to cause a shortage, much less price increases. Let me clarify this.

With the crisis of August 17, 1999, the ruble lost value against the dollar and all foreign hard currency. With the dollar, before the crises, the ruble stood at about 6:1, now it's about 24.5 rubles to the dollar. In other words, it's worth only 1/4th of what it was earlier.

Since August of last year, many people have been out of work; those still working have seen their salaries reduced, even though they are still working the same amount of hours at the same jobs. For example, those who work in stores, on the average, made $300/mo., now their salaries are about $100/mo. This is not just a phenomena with Russian businesses, but with foreign businesses, too.

At McDonalds, I know a person who is in management and worked there for seven years. Before the crises, her salary was $600/mo., now it's $200! This would not be permitted in the States, but here they take advantage of the way business is done in Russia, and do the same thing. So, naturally, with people out of work; people who could only find a part-time job; and, those who have seen their salaries slashed by 2/3rd, it becomes a problem of not having enough money to buy the food they did before.

If it was true, as the media and government told us, that there is a food shortage in Russia (especially grain), you would see one of two things happening here: 1) prices would be high; or 2) you would not see the availability of food in the market. In Russia, throughout the four years I've been living here on a steady bases (my first trip was in 1993), the prices remained constant in terms of real dollars. The variety and places to buy food has actually increased. Now, how can the media and government explain that?!

If prices were kept artificially low, but there was really a shortage, then you would see empty shelves in the market place. The only way to keep the shelves full when there really is a shortage of food, would be to raise the prices so high that few people would be able to buy it. Well, the fact is, as can be testified by everyone living here is, (and, you can ask Americans who have returned, as to a confirmation of this) that the prices have remained the same in terms of constant dollars, and food was still widely available from the time of the crisis to the present (June, 1999).

There were market adjustments in the weeks that followed the crises of August, 1998, but at no time was there really a shortage. There was a delay, as those who imported food, had to pay in advance in hard currency, where as before, importers had credit. So, it took time to arrange the next shipment of food. This was to be expected. There was panic buying, as people didn't know what to expect of their economic future. Then, after several weeks of this, shelves were getting low, and some things were sold out. So, it took some time to have deliveries made, but made, they were.

In fact, during the first weeks after the crises, prices were actually lower, this added to the panic buying did cause a shortage of some things. But so you would have this in the US, when, for example, people stock up of food before a hurricane. Of course, with reporters looking for sensationalism -- which sells more newspapers -- they can make it look like the country was running out of food. No, the fact was, that at this time only, there was more food in the homes of the people than in the store and kiosks, but the food was still here.

During times of economic uncertainty, it's only natural the people want to stock. I, too, was one of millions buying what I could. Some of this food would not be what I would normally eat, but at least I knew that I would have something -- a poor quality food is better than nothing at all.

When the ruble was worth only 12:1, the prices remained the same; when it went to 18:1, they remained the same. In other words, what cost 100 rubles before, you could buy the same thing for 50; then for 33. This not only included food, but everything. While some people increased their prices, they were a minority, and those that did increase them, it was not in direct relation to the ruble/dollar exchange, hence, this created bargains, which added to the panic buying.

As for me, I had all my money in dollars at home, with rubles to last me a few days of normal purchase of food. As you may recall, the banks closed, some never to open again. And everyone who had money in the banks lost it. Those with money in the more stable banks, had to wait months before they could get it -- all paid back in inflated rubles. (That's what I mean by corrupt government and business.) Knowing the nature of business here, I never put my money in the banks, and as a result, I didn't suffer a loss.

During this time of run-away inflation, it was like Christmas, as I was able to buy things that I couldn't before (because of a lack of money). At this time, people who had cash bought what they can -- not only food, but clothes, electronic goods, furniture, and cars.

Why weren't prices adjusted for inflation? Some people couldn't because the law says that they can't charge more than a certain percent -- which is a communistic law. However, there are those who were not affect by price restrictions, they still kept price down, not realizing that they would have to pay more to replace what was sold. This is a result of business ignorance. Naturally, when they restocked their shelves, prices went up accordingly.

Russian health

The health of the average Russian is very poor. You might have heard the figure of life expectancy. Men have an average life of 59 years, while women live to an average of 72, far below western standards. In the city that I was in last year -- Vorkuta -- I was told that the average life of men there is 45! I suspect that women are not far behind. Why is this?

First, let me comment on Vorkuta -- a mining city that was founded on slave labor from the local gulag camp. Naturally, being very cold most of the year, and not getting paid what they should to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, is one contributing factor. Another is the dangerous working conditions in the mines where accidents are common. Those who survive, the accidents, scrub to black lung disease. Then there is the drinking, which I'll discuss more at length later. All of this contributes to a short life in this city and others like it, scattered throughout the hostile expanse of Russia.

In general, other factors contribute to the poor health of Russians. When people don't have the money to buy the foods they need to sustain life, their health suffers, naturally. There is also the custom of eating foods that aren't good for them, even if they have the money to buy better food. For example, Russians love bread. With every meal they have several slices of bread. This, I believe is the result of their history of not having enough of the proper foods -- and bread is a cheap filler. I've seen three bread kiosks next to teach other, and they were all doing good business. I've often seen people going to their homes with three or more loafs of bread. I remember seeing one young attractive girl eating on a loaf of white bread as if it was a hamburger.

Though bread isn't good for your health, on average, it is better than what you can buy in the US. The reason for this is, quite simply, that they don't have the chemicals in it that we have. They also have more of a supply of brown, or, as they call it, 'chorny klep' (black bread). Bread, coupled with other refined starches, is a poor food choice.

Russians have a diet high in animal fat. They don't bother to trim fat from meat. I remember one time I was invited to a friend's house for dinner, and I saw what looked like some kind of white cheese, and I asked the hostess what kind of cheese it was. She responded and said it wasn't cheese, but pig's fat. How gross!

They use liberal amounts of mayonnaise in their salads. This contributes to cardiovascular diseases. You've heard of Russian salad dressing. Well, no such thing, as we know it, exists in Russia. Their salad dressing is plain mayonnaise.

Then there's vodka and beer. Vodka is quite cheap, with a ½ liter bottle of Stolechnaya selling for about $1.50 in the stores -- which is your better brand. You can buy it cheaper, as many bottles are 'bootleg,' with the tax stamp and label identical with the original.

The poor in the towns and villages throughout Russia make their own, often from potatoes -- the equivalent of our moonshine. Beer is another favorite drink, with Russian bottles selling for about 25 cents. In the morning, it is quite common to see men drinking beer. This is stronger than the American counter part. I just mention this to show you that even the poor can afford it.

The reason prices are so low is that the people would not put up with high prices for their alcoholic drinks, and the government knows it. As for outlawing it, that's out of the question. Gorbachav tried to restrict the sale of vodka without success. At this time, there was more home-made vodka produced and under-the-counter sales than at any other time in recent history.

When I'm invited to parties, there are many toasts -- with vodka of course. They have their drinks straight up, chasing it down with a pickle, piece of bread, or vegetable. Then minutes later, they toast again, and so it goes throughout the evening, though the time interval does increase. In the United States, for the most part, people have wine or beer, but limit the amounts they take. Here, just about everyone gets drunk, except those who have to drive. I've seen Russian finish off all the bottles, and if the party is still going on -- which it usually is -- they go out and buy more. I'm amazed how some of them can walk home. That's how bad the drinking is here.

Shelton and Bragg

I was surprised at the number of people who have heard of Herbert Shelton and Paul Bragg. The books by these people were popular in Russia under Communism. I would say more people in Russia have read their books of Natural Hygiene than in the U.S. How many took their advice is another story. I'm sure some of them did, if only when they were sick.

The Slavic race

The Slavs, are a very attractive people. I've never seen such beauty before. They have the mixture of blonde, brunette, brown, red and black hair, as seen in other groups of the white race, along with the range of different colored eyes. They are a tall people, like the Germans. The young girls look they could win a Miss America beauty contest. The men are handsome, too.

When I first came to Russia, there was no such thing as fat teenagers or young adults, much less obese ones. When Russians get older, they do get overweight. Now, with the push on western food, the opening of more McDonald's, the selling of junk food, you are starting to see more fat young people. However, the percentage is still much lower than in the US and Europe.

The sad thing is that when Russians get older, they lose their beauty and health, and this happens faster than what you see in the U.S. In the U.S., our older people, in my opinion, are better looking and on average, in better health. In Russia, I would say that the average man over 50 is an alcoholic. (I can tell by the appearance of their face, even if they are not drunk at the time.) The women, on average, are not as heavy drinkers, but they let their health go in other ways, too. Thus, it's a shame to see such beauty being wasted.

In conclusion

I don't see anything improving in Russia. This can be evaluated by the people who are not in government, and those who have their eye on the presidency, as they are all crooks. And with it, there would be no economic improvement, much less better education in the fields of health. As a result of their so-called 'democracy,' the Slavic race is dying out.

In fact, President Yeltsin was charged by the Duma (lower house of congress) with genocide, as it is estimated that over 2,000,000 Russians have died as a result of the so-called 'economic reforms.' The charge of genocide didn't get the required number of votes, but it does show the awareness of some people of the danger that is happening to them as a result of government policy. So, if this trend continues for a long period of time, there will be no Russians left, except for the few that have fled abroad.

First, a strong middle class has to be established to give the people the money to buy the necessities of life. Then the message of Natural Hygiene has to be brought to them. With the proper economy in place, there would be wide distribution of good quality food, and the people with the money to buy it, then you would see an improvement. However, even if this was the case, the reality is that it would not be a massive improvement, as centuries old customs of bad health practices would have to be changed.

It's just up to people like you and me to do what we can to get the message of truth out, in whatever areas of life that is, including the areas of economic and health. Let us each do what we can to tell others. I'm doing what I can in this area of the world, and I hope you are, too.

For those who would like to contact me or who would like to visit Russia, I'd be glad to talk or meet with you. My email is:, or you may phone me at 7-095-421-1039

God bless you all.

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