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Russian papers to launch in Kingdom

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ALTHOUGH there are no direct flights from Russia to Cambodia, Siem Reap travel agent Ruslan Sklyarov, also publisher of Russian newspaper Kambodja, says 30 percent of tourists who came to Cambodia this year spoke Russian. According to him, five tour companies in Siem Reap are owned by Russian speakers. “Russian tourists who come here are very happy to see a publication in Russian,” he said.

THE owners of two of Cambodia’s best-known Russian restaurants plan to launch publications shortly.

Nikolai Doroshenko, who owns the Snake House restaurant and the Airport Disco in Sihanoukville, is planning to publish a free Russian monthly called Kambodjiiskaya Pravda or Cambodian Truth.

Gennadiy Harasikov, the owner of Irina restaurant in Phnom Penh, will edit a paper called Kambodja, due to launch early next month.

Kambodja, which means Cambodia in Russian, is owned by Ruslan Sklyarov, a Siberian businessman who operates a tour company called Planet in Siem Reap and is married to Harasikov’s daughter, Alisa.

The goal of both publications is to attract more Russian-speaking tourists to the Kingdom, particularly from Thailand.

According to Sklyarov, Thailand was home to 15,000 permanent Russian-speaking residents and received close to 2 million tourists from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan every year.

However, Russians in Thailand knew very little about Cambodia and imagined the Kingdom to be a dangerous place of war, destruction, land mines and underage prostitution, he said.

“There is no information at all about Cambodia [in Russian] in Thailand,” Sklyarov said.

Maxim Kartunchikov, editor of Kambodjiiskaya Pravda, which is currently in production stages, agreed.

“Many Russians still think Cambodia is dangerous because of the Khmer Rouge,” he said. “Our main goal is to get the information out about the country – to let people know that Cambodia offers opportunities for travel, for business and for cultural activities.”

To attract more Russian-speaking tourists, both papers will be distributed not only in Cambodia, but also at popular destinations in Thailand as well as in Russia. Kambodjiiskaya Pravda would be available at the Cambodian embassy in Moscow, and on buses that travelled to Cambodia from Thailand, whereas Kambodja would be given to air passengers to Southeast Asia from Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union, Sklyarov said.

Neither publication aspires to report the news to Russian-speaking Cambodians, but simply to print feature stories about the country.

Kambodja, would publish recipes of popular Cambodian dishes, descriptions of interesting historic and cultural attractions and profiles of Russian-speaking Cambodians. A story about the availability of health care and health insurance is also in the works to reassure travellers.

Kambodjiiskaya Pravda aims to introduce readers to the art and culture of Cambodia as well as to some little-known facts about the Khmer Rouge period. The paper will print parts of an unpublished book by a Soviet diplomat who served in Cambodia in the 1980s.

According to Doroshenko, the book deals with Pol Pot’s secret diplomatic moves.

“Only Russians had access to this information, and only they can expose it,” he said.

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