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Love notes from a small island

Posted Date: 19/04/2012

The Times Online - 19 April 2012 (Media InterAct)


For Russian Anastasia Lesnikova, Malta is safe, tolerant and stable. And the traffic is nothing compared to Moscow.

For Anastasia Lesnikova, 36, Malta is home. “When I go abroad, I miss it and I am eager to return,” she says.

It was Anastasia’s husband Maxim, a computer programmer, who first came to Malta to learn English.

“Originally, he planned to stay for two months. Then he extended his stay and suggested that I join him in Malta for some months until he finished his course. When the course ended, he found a job that was an exact fit to his line of work. We felt so comfortable in Malta that we decided to buy an apartment and settle down here.”

Anastasia, originally from Moscow, has now been living in Malta for 12 years. She runs a travel agency which caters especially for Russian tourists. Anastasia and her husband have integrated well in Malta – one factor which has helped is the similarity between Russian and Maltese cultures.

“Despite appearances, both cultures are similar, especially in the importance they give to family values,” Anastasia says. “There are, obviously, some differences – Russians, for instance, are a bit more reserved than Mediterranean people. But living in Malta has made me become more open.”

Anastasia appreciates that Malta is safe, stable and tolerant – she is Russian Orthodox and can practise her religion freely. “I find Maltese traditions and the culture very interesting,” she says. “And I love Maltese food, especially bragjoli, which I’ve learned to cook.

“There are also a lot of advantages to living in a small country,” she says. “The traffic, for instance, is one of them. Back in Moscow, my husband and I would spend hours commuting. When people complain about traffic in Malta, I have to smile because it’s nothing compared to the traffic back home.”

Anastasia, who is pregnant with her first child, is also very active in helping other Russians integrate in Malta and in bringing the Russian community in Malta together.

“We organise a lot of events, such as Russian Christmas and carnival,” she says. “The aim is to introduce a bit of Russian culture to Malta. There are also a lot of marriages between Russians and Maltese – these events help in bringing the couples’ families together.”

Anastasia also helps in publishing a newsletter that includes valuable and practical information about Malta – this helps Russians in Malta understand the country better.

One thing which Anastasia still hasn’t managed to learn is the Maltese language. “The fact that people in Malta speak so many languages makes foreigners lazy to learn Maltese,” she says. “I can understand it, but now I want to learn to speak it.”




Russian salad – A traditional Russian dish that is as tasty as it is easy to prepare.

Ingredients: Carrots and potatoes, boiled; 200gr beef or ham, boiled; 1 onion; 4 hard-boiled eggs; 100gr canned green peas; 3 pickles; Salt and pepper to taste; Mayonnaise.

Method: Peel the potatoes and carrots. Chop the potatoes, carrots, meat, onion, eggs and pickles into small cubes. Drain the green peas and add to the salad. Add salt, pepper, and mayonnaise. Mix well. You can also use boiled chicken breast instead of beef or ham, and fresh apple instead of boiled carrots.

Serves 3 to 4.

This interview was included in the publication InterAct – A Portrait of Third-Country Nationals in Malta, published as part of the Media InterAct project (IF 2010 02) and distributed with The Times. They are based on the TV programme Minn Lenti Interkulturali, broadcast on Education22/TVM2 and TVM between January and March, 2012 and on TVM between April and June, 2012. The project is co-financed through the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. The project is led by SOS Malta, in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Services and the Institute of Maltese Journalists.



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