Back from a trip to Murmansk via Lovozero

Took a group of four Italian travellers to Lovozero and then to Murmansk.

Monchegorsk_barren_landOn the way to Lovozero we passed through the famous barren lands of Monchegorsk, a product of the North Nickel plant.Monchegorsk_chemistry more >>

Crossing Russian border with serious video equipment

cameraThis week I am intensely poking my nose into this issue, which makes it a good time to ask questions on the subject.

Stories from whose who know rules and especially practices are most welcomed.

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I’m back

Ел и пил он забесплатно
с половиною три дня.
В головёнке стало ватно
и с давлением фигня.

Но, надеемся, извлек
важный жизненный урок
из поездки этой он,-

перестанет жрать, как слон,
похудевши телом
он займется делом,
вместо сна возлюбит спорт,
волей станет тверд, как черт,
а характером добёр,
трудолюблив, как бобёр.

Также надо б перестать
глупость всякую писать.

Писано по пути из Варзуги в Кандалакшу 11 апреля 2014 г.

A three-day crappy job

I’m out of circulation for three days, April 9-11.

This time I’ve been hired as an interpreter by a Norwegian environmental group touring Russia to promote outhouse designs that do not pollute ground waters even if close to wells.

Why am I never invited to participate in things more glamorous, like my luckier translator guild colleagues?!

I may or may not be able to check e-mail while touring the south endge of the Kola Peninsula with the great toilet message. The telephone connection in this area is intermittent at best. If the matter can’t wait copy to Otherwise I should be back Saturday, and it’s business as usual starting Monday April 14.

What do Igor and Natasha read?

pressPrompted by a question about the reading tastes of my companions I stopped to contemplate the contents of a news kiosk during today’s afternoon walk.

(This was part of a larger job to help a journalist to create a name for himself, and this little assignment is a good example of silly things I do for a living.)

3/4 of the lower half on display was children’s books. Two town papers. Three to five regional adaptations of national weeklies. A few monthlies. Two history novels. The entire back was was full of magazines on nothing but health, beauty, gardening, and astrology.

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Murmansk region brides

An enquiry from a Russian bride seeker prompted me to scan the local (Murmansk region) scene. Having found nothing I dragged my lazy bum to Alexandra’s and begged for access to her information sniffing expertise.[hide-this-part] Sure enough, it took her 5 minutes to sort out through hundreds of fakes and duplicates, and to come up with two real brick and mortar Murmansk-based agencies.

The name of this one, with a tacky (even by industry standards) banner, can be translated as “Get rid of loneliness”. The site bears every mark of a new project. It failed to turn me on but you may want to check out

The other one is called Lucky Choice. The logo, just as tacky, would not copy. Well, if they are against me reproducing it here let their competitor above get more attention. The list is longer and women appear younger although most still have this trademark expressionless Russian provincial face. See

What can I do for you on the Russian brides front? I can help you compile your story and make a vibrant yet truthful profile. I can distribute it around. No, I can guarantee no result. Double negative is intentional. The nature of the situation makes failure the norm, and success is a rare piece of luck. Stories are available on requiest, and if I deem it appropriate I can even put you in touch with former clients of the type similar to yours.[/hide-this-part]

Two more web jobs added to the list of examples

One is restoring a site out of fragments and an old backup copy I wisely held, contrary to instructions, in anticipation of my client freaking out changing their (gender-neutral pronoun used on purpose, contrary to my usual style) mind. I confess I am almost proud of myself for being able to think ahead even of greater minds who hire me. A simple job, just moving massives of data around, but I’m adding it to the list as an illustration of how I relate to clients, not of my technical competence.

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Playing tech support

Why people would not, instead of “my site would not open”, say something like “I cannot open with Chrome” and then answer specific questions to help to narrow down, pinpoint and fix the problem?! The issue was very minor (two actually: misspelled URL and a blocked IP address) but extracting information from this client was something else. My hat off to people who provide tech support daily. While on the subject I’d like to thank the Liquid Web tech support team who did more than any of their colleagues not only to bail me out of trouble but help understand the logic and machanics of websites. No doubt to them I often sound no better than D. to me.

A job examples: Logging industry overview

A big story can be made out of it but in a nutshell this business scouting type project was to make acquaintance with local loggers and millers, understand practices and procedures, collect info on the equipment and employment situation, locate top industry experts, and to provide numerous field reports to the client till he was convinced to put his plans on hold.

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Client feedback

Another attempt to put all client feedback received over years in one place. What you see here is mostly from my board, where you’ll find the originals. The board is totally unsensored and I’ve even resisted the temptation to delete some obvious slander.


Simon Eliasson on said:

All our thanks to you Pasha for great guidance and translation. Reliable, trustworthy and interesting! We came back with good material, and a great experience. Already planning for a summer trip to the Kola area, hope to see you again.


Belated thanks
Posted on January 1, 2013 at 03:39:47 PM by Ralph from B-ville

Let me take this opportunity to thank Angel Pasha for very gently and effectively performing for me a very discreet and important personal task.

I fully and without hesitation recommend that if you need someone to act on your behalf not as employee but as a true extension of you talk to this gentleman. The combination of analytic ability, softness, flexibility, brutal honesty bordering on cynicism, sensitivity, and many other normally incompatible and mutually-exclusive traits was a giant piece of luck for me.

Pasha, I know your skeptical views about Russia. Ironically, you, being a product of this land, are a proof of its value. Privately, I would say you are a an example of a perfectly controlled and adjusted case of split personality. People see in 3D because they have not one but two eyes. You **think** in stereo because you have at least two minds. Thank you and yes, Mother Russia, that can generate such harmonious consistently inconsistent characters. Perhaps you are the closest approximation of an ancient prophet as I understand them.



very belated thank you
Posted on March 8, 2011 at 01:48:55 AM by Kazuko Obata

Dear Pasha

We are terribly sorry that we didn’t send you this thank you note earlier. The time flies and it is already 9 months since we stayed at your apartment in Moscow. We really enjoyed staying at your place – a great location and set up. We were very lucky to come across your website and find your place. It was great to have our own place with all the facilities in Moscow.

Also, we could not thank you enough for the tour you gave to us. You were so accommodating and we could not have had a better driver and guide. We enjoyed the conversation we had with you, and I wish we had time to have a chat over some vodka! We really liked the bottle of vodka you left in the fridge for us. What sort of vodka was it? (I bet you cannot remember!)

After you left us Sergei Posad, we had a great stay in Rostov Valeiky, Novgorod and St. Petersburg. We would like to go back to Russia one day to see more rural areas, and hopefully we can visit your dacha then!

Hope that we meet you again.

Thank you again, and kind regards,

Kazuko and Rob


A dinner at Uncle Pasha’s
Posted on May 15, 2010 at 04:03:49 AM by Robert and Maria

Paul Voytinsky (aka Uncle Pasha) is a friendly and hospitable Russian gentleman who speaks English fluently. He also happens to be a great chef. A couple of days ago, he invited me and my girlfriend over to try his vegan dishes. He started us off with a filling green salad full of tofu, tomatoes, cucumbers, sprouts among many others things. It was delicious and spicy. The nice thing is that Paul was explaining to us the ingredients and his flexible cooking procedures–for he is against fixed recipes–while cooking. After a shot of rice vodka, we proceeded to the main course which included a bamboo soup with fried chickpea flour. Highly recommended for every vegetarian gourmet out there in Moscow, but especially for vegans. Even though Paul doesn’t like the label “healthy,” I have found his food to be very healthy. He told me that it’s high in calories. So I told him at least they’re good calories. Yes, Uncle Pasha uses a lot of interesting oils and herbs that render his dishes idiosyncratic. I wish Paul success with his future project of opening a veggie cafe in Moscow.
I have read that Paul is a jack of all trades, so he’s not only an excellent chef… he’s many other things. He’s best known for his humor I suppose.

May 14th, 2010
Robert Beshara


Wonderful stay at Pasha’s.
Posted on November 22, 2009 at 03:49:46 PM by Janine

Hi Pasha

We have been meaning to write this review for a while. We are the 4 kiwis who came to stay over new year time four years ago now, 2006/07.

We had a fantastic stay at the Dacha, arrived late one night and Pasha picked us up from the local train station drove us out to the country, where we began our adventure! Crossing the ice river on horseback, horseriding through the snow storms, fabulous food and warming ourselves around the log fires.

Thanks for the great stay we still talk about it even now, definately the best bit of our trip to Russia.

You gave us a bottle of your Maldovian Brandy at the train station when we were departing, we drank that ‘liquid gold’ neat on New Years eve in St Petersburg, it was so good, we have never found another brandy quite like it (and I have been drinking to try!).

Thanks again hopefully we can make it back in the summertime, some time soon.

Janine & Eugene, Anna & Duncan


visit with uncle pasha
Posted on April 14, 2008 at 10:19:27 AM by salleh@aini

dear all,
after passing my final exams went to visit with the great uncle pasha in tzver ( hope i spelled that right ). he is really an icon. very intelligent , big big heart, warm and generous but in a russian way…
we will never ever forget him and his army of friends…
if you want to visit russia, uncle pasha will shine the light…
god bless this man.

sallehuddin bin abdullah
orthopaedic surgeon
queen elizabeth hospital
kota kinabalu


Feedback from Flipkey

Left on 04/08/2013 for a stay in April 2013

Great property for the price. Certainly not 5 star but works well for independent travellers on a budget. Great location, short walk to the landmarks but in a non touristy neighbourhood. We used the owner Pasha’s services for transportation to airport and train station. He was courteous, punctual and good value for money as he assisted us sort our way through Russian protocols. If i was to return to Moscow I would avail myself of his services for more specialised tours.

Brisbane, Australia


Left on 01/24/2012 for a stay in June 2010

This place is very centrally located. You can walk to the Red Square. Yet, the studio was very reasonably priced. It has everything you need, including a washing machine. The owner even left a bottle of vodka (we liked it very much) and some beer for us to drink! There is a good supermarket nearby to buy supplies. It is in a very quiet area. The bed could have been better but it was OK.

We had a driving tour outside of Moscow given by the owner of the studio, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The owner/driver was very accommodating and informative. We could not have had a better driver and guide. We enjoyed the conversation we had with the owner/driver and I wish we had time to have a chat with him over some vodka!



Awesome in every way.

Left on 04/25/2011 for a stay in March 2011

Paul, the owner, who is also known as Uncle Pasha, is very reliable. He took me to and from the airport. He’s a funny, quirky fellow. Because he lived in Canada, he understands Western communication and expectations. There’s no weirdness.



More feedback

That goes against the stereotype of Russians as “we” and “us”. But your version explains Russian peculiarities such as a strong government that crushes individuals by extreme individualism that makes all these Ivans and Peters and Putins necessary to hold such a patchy nation together! Many extreme I’s create a need for a tyrant to keep them from devouring each other. What a total paradigm shift!

I stumbled on your insightful site while looking for ideas for my Political Science essay. Huge thanks.

Fiona Glinka


It’s me again.

Another surprise. Is it easy to find ingredients for food like this in Russia? I’m sort of required, if I am to take my studies seriously, to do enough time in there to understand how the country works. But a diet of borsch and kasha, kolbasa and pirogies (I am from Ukrainian/Polish/Jewish background and am still a bit traumatized by my grandma’s ways) does not thrill me. Your story makes Russia look much lighter and friendlier from the culinary viewpoint…



Sure, you get more money when you are creative and positive (otherwise known as lying and cheating). Pasha is honest. He tells it as it is. The whole truth, warts and all. If you want comfortable and inexpensive, go to the Caribbean (however Mexico isn’t that expensive, and getting more dangerous every day). The banners showing impalings and hanging are meant to condition you for your trip to Russia. It is part of the charm. And as Pasha says, don’t forget your charcoal tablets. Very good for preventing “metorism”. I can’t wait to return to my small dormitory room near the Volga. Cheers.


An old (2003) Russia Journal article about the dacha and horses project

So that it does not get lost should Russia Journal get rid of its archive I’m reproducing the article below. PLEASE NOTE THAT PRICE INFO IS OUTDATED AND THOSE EXPECTING $25/DAY FOR EVERYTHING WILL BE DISAPPOINTED.. more >>

Here is is all mixed together, whether it is from those who rented my apartment in Moscow, partook in horse riding near Staritsa in the Tver region, or hired me for a variety of projects. Here is an incomplete list of projects, to give you an example of things I do…. oops, can’t find it, will check the Moscow period sites but it will show under Examples of Jobs and Projects here.




The most thorough of you can contact authors if of course they provided e-mails. If you need to assess my suitability for a particular **non-trivial** job I’ll try to put you in touch with those who requested a similar service from me in the past. Please don’t ask for references if you need a small and trivial favour, I will not pester people for that. By some reason those in need of $100 type jobs are most likely to thoroughly investigate my backgrond and reputation. I’m of course flattered by such attention but it somehow makes no sense. As I said, don’t hesitate to question my suitability for larger projects that may require special skills, connections, attitudes etc.

…Just noticed that e-mail addresses got distorted somewhat during the copy-and-paste process. Depending on your browser’s settings you may see the right address if you click on the name, or you may have to get rid of extra symbols.

…Some press publications also seem to have made it here. The list is a mess but after 20 seconds of doubt I’ll let it be. Those who are looking for the right man for the job will benefit. If you are one of these new types looking for something smooth and sleek you won’t be impressed but better that it happens before we attempt any work. So this rough list will do for a while.[/hide-this-part]