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Naturally, foreigners were viewed as a bridge to the more developed and "civilized" West.
But the fascination with foreignness is, it appears, skin deep.
"Who the most desirable foreigners are, depends on fashion. Following an economic boom during Putin's first term, living standards have improved and many of the perks of living in the West are now on offer in Moscow too.
In a poll conducted in 2009 by Superjob.ru, one in four women aged 55 or older said she wanted a foreign husband.
"There's an idea that foreign men will be different [from Russian men]," she said.
European men have a reputation for being more independent and better planners.