Although certain people are born in some other places, they have a feeling that they belong or that they are incredibly connected to some other country, mentality, culture, music, literature... Russian Elena Natykina has that feeling, she is an editor of the webpage "Krasota Balkan", who stepped on Serbian soil for the first time - that was love at first sight.
Elena created the website dedicated especially to this region because of her love for our country and the entire Balkan peninsula, its culture, cuisine, fashion... Beautiful Russian quotes Dusko Radovic and Momo Kapor, she speaks Serbian and above else, she likes the atmosphere she feels when she comes to Serbia.
She heard about our country for the first time when she was a little girl when a TV series "Policajac sa Petlovog Brda" (Policeman from Rooster Hill) was aired on the Russian TV, and the little girl watched famous inspector Bosko Simic and his many children.
The fate decided that the first country Elena will ever visit should be Serbia. She fell in love with Belgrade, and the Temple of St. Sava charmed her. She always visits it when she comes to our capital. She has a feeling in Belgrade that she is really herself, and our country is "something greatest". She met her husband with the "help" of our country.
Telegraf.rs talked with Elena about her feelings, love for Balkan, places she visits, sports, Moscow and Russia in General.
- When was the first time you heard about Serbia and how the love occurred?
- The history of my life is in this question. As my Serbian friend said: "That is destiny!" I am a journalist, I graduated from the University Lomonosov in Moscow and my job gave me a lot of gifts. I was on a Russian-Serbian conference in Moscow in the Temple of Christ the Savior. I watched the big old image of the Temple of St. Sava and I couldn't believe how beautiful this is. But my dream came true! And every time I am in Belgrade, I go to the temple or I sit close to it. It is the most favorite place in the city for me. First time I heard about Serbia was when I was little and I watched with my family your TV series "Policajac sa Petlovog Brda" on Russian TV. And that is a good memory from my childhood. Later on, Serbia has given me the husband Sergej. He is a Russian but we met at the concert of ethno-group "Trag" from Banja Luka in Moscow. He was in love with the beauty of Serbia, but he came to Serbia for the first time with me. I have a lot of reasons why I love Serbia.
- What city, or a place, do you like most in Serbia?
- I like every Serbian city where I have been: Belgrade (old, new, Zemun), Novi Sad, Sremski Karlovci, Nis, Lajkovac, Prokuplje, and many other. Every city has its own character and good people, and now they are my friends. In any case, I would like to live there and to feel their atmosphere. But, I like Belgrade the most because I have a feeling that I am really me in this city. Belgrade gave me a lot of good friends I really love and each new day opens something new for me. I like walking in Zemun by the river with my friend. I am very glad that you have so many bookstores in Belgrade. My favorite is "Serbian Literature Community". I always buy classics there. Momo Kapor wrote: "Belgrade is not in Belgrade because it is not a city - that is a metaphor, a way of life, the point of view". I totally agree!
- How did you come to the idea to make a website about Balkans, how many people have visited it and how many people in Russia really know about Serbia?
- Many people have been on vacation in Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Greece, Serbia, and they would like to know more about these countries. But, when I talk about Serbia, all Russians answer with some warmness in their soul: "Ah, Serbia! We know." "Krasota Balkan" has a cultural mission: we want the people to meet the real beauties of Balkan on our site. We write only about culture, travels, cuisine, fashion, Balkan events in Moscow and we have interviews. I wrote about concerts of Goran Bregovic with my colleague Vera Stajic, about Emir Kusturica, Divna Ljubojevic, Oliver Dragojevic, who all performed in Moscow. I read all Serbian and Balkan newspapers on the internet because of the job I do, but I love reading interesting cultural sites, like "Srpski Legat".
- Which countries did you visit in the Balkans?
- Unfortunately, I have been to a few places only: Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. Russians have really gone crazy after Montenegro in the past few years. I was really amazed by the beauty of nature. I flew with a plane and I thought "It's like a paradise, like a living postcard!", but I was there at work when I worked for Russian TV.
- How would you describe Serbia in a single sentence?
- I can't describe Serbia in a single sentence. It is much more for me. It is your first love. Belgrade is the first foreign city in my life I have been in. But in any case, Serbia for Russians is like a real warmth, as a real warmth of the soul... That is a secret why Russians are so much in love with Serbia. And all of my friends who have been here said unanimously that they love this country. I once heard that the love between Russia and Serbia is something irrational. Patriarch Pavle said: "Real love is when love asks nothing in return. When you love someone without logic. That is also true freedom". I think that it describes love between our countries in a beautiful way.
- You know the Serbian language, was it hard to learn it and how different it is from your mother tongue?
- I learned the language just a little, I read Serbian writers. I look like a Serb, but when I talk, Serbs understand that I am Russian. I have friends that are Serbian and who always speak in Serbian with me, as well as colleagues from the Russian-Serbian site "Senica.ru". But we Russians say the hard Serbian "č" softly. When I asked the actor Milos Bikovic for an interview for the site "Krasota Balkan" this question, he has told me that he had a problem with the accent when he came to Russia. I agree with him because I have a problem in the Serbian language.
- For who do you cheer when our national teams play against each other?
- Only for friendship. But I cheered for Serbs in Serbia in female's football, when there was a Russian-Serbian game in Podmoskovie. He put on a "sajkaca" (Serbian national hat), and I wore a hat with Serbia on it.
- What are the common threads between Russia and Serbia? Where are we alike, and what makes us different?
- I think that people in Serbia really know how to enjoy life every day in small things. We Russians have to learn that. Russians worry about the destiny of the world every day, they have a reflection like in Dostoevsky. But, both Serbs and Russians are hearty, open, marry and interesting people.
- Could you live and work in Belgrade/Serbia?
- I could and I would like that. Serbia is a very beautiful county: pleasant climate, interesting cities, and natural beauties. Serbia is known for good food and for hospitable people. I like the words of Dusko Radovic: "He who was lucky to wake up in Belgrade this morning could think that he accomplished something in his life". I can't live without Serbian coffee, I make it every morning.
- Do you know and are you friends with some Serbs who live in Russia?
- Yes, I have a nice Serbian-Montenegrin company in Moscow. We always walk around the downtown, we go to Serbian and Greek cafes. We dance and we sing. We make parties of the website in the restaurant "Yugos". I like it very much that Moscow and Russia have a lot of Serbian and Balkan restaurants, due to the great interest in the cuisine and culture of the Balkans.
- What's the lifestyle like in Russia and how do people usually live?
- There is a prejudice that Russians don't count money, but that's not true. The vacation on Balkans is therefore much cheaper for some Russians compared to some other European countries. Russia is very big. The standards differ. Regular people live like in every other country: they would like to live easier and better. Moscow is a huge and dynamic city. Moscow now is not the same city it was 20 years ago. My family apartment is close to Moscow City (Moscow international business center) and I watch the windows of skyscrapers every evening, like in New York. But I like it when I ask Serbs in an interview: "What would you like to see in Russia?", and they answer: "Moscow and St. Petersburg are alright, but we want to see Siberia and Lake Baikal."
(Telegraf.co.uk / N. Ivanovski)