'Why would you want to go to Russia?', has pretty much been the stock response from people for the last decade or so when I've told them I'm heading there, and that's usually followed by a slight shudder and questions about prison camps, Putin and whether the food is terrible. However, before my most recent trip there in April, news of my departure was met with squeals of jealousy and protestations along the lines of 'I've always wanted to go there, actually, and Tolstoy is my favourite author thank you very much'. I think a certain BBC drama may have got some people all hot under the collar and wanting to meet their own Andrei, but it very much seems that many are at last joining me in thinking…. why wouldn't I want to go to Russia?
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