Invasion of the Russian Gold-Diggers - by Tom Mitchelson
Forget the oligarchs, no one is attracted to money like the new army of Russian beauties taking over London. Femail went undercover to find out what they're REALLY after...
People stare at Natalia. She is stunningly beautiful, elegant, and with a figure that a movie star would die for.
I've known her for four hours and we have just had a bottle of champagne that cost me £200. Now we're strolling down Old Bond Street in London.
She pauses at a jewellery shop and stares in the window. With an exquisitely manicured finger, she points to a diamond encrusted wristwatch.
"This is lovely," she tells me. "Will you buy it for me when the shop opens tomorrow?"
"It's £33,000," I choke. She looks at me, puzzled.
Her blue eyes freeze and she removes her hand from my arm.
"Is money a problem?" she asks, in a caring sort of way.
This is not my normal life. It all started a few weeks earlier when I heard that Britain is under siege from a monstrous regiment of Russian temptresses - arriving here on the billionaire coat tails of Roman Abramovich and his fabulously wealthy friends, and set on grabbing a British boyfriend, a British expense account and a British passport.
Was this true? Or was it just an urban myth? It is certainly widely believed, I found.
There's plenty of talk around the place about Rapacious Russians and Slavic Sirens stalking our streets in search of men - and men with money, at that.
If they exist, they are a glittering army of clever, glamorous, ambitious, sophisticated vamps, descending, locust-like on London, the world's leading financial centre, in a mad search for merchant bankers, commodity traders and City bonus - pocketers.
But was this picture correct? To find out, I would romance the Russianistas, uncover the Ukrainians, and leave no Estonian unturned.
My technique is simple. I shall adopt the persona of a wealthy young man-about-town.
Not wanting to be caught out by elaborate lies, I tell anyone who asks that I inherited my money and amuse myself by writing screenplays.
The truth is I am not a City high-flyer and not even a plumber. In fact, I'm a penniless young writer. But I do own one good suit and I know how to act.
I resolve to spend money I don't have as if there's no tomorrow - and keep a diary that may go some way to keeping me.
I begin my quest in a nightclub in the West End. It is guest-list only. I talk my way onto the list and saunter in.
The crowd is heaving. Sleek women of uncertain backgrounds dance round their handbags, and I can hear the murmur of Slavic accents.
"There's a lot of Eastern Europeans in tonight," I say to the barman.
"Yeah, it's Russian night. Every night is Russian night."
It is 2.37am when I find what I've been looking for. Natalia and I click.
We flirt, we dance and exchange numbers. We arrange a date.
The following evening I'm in a five-star hotel in Mayfair - her choice of meeting point. It seems to be a favourite haunt of hers.
High heels echo over the marble floor and Natalia enters, her Slavic cheekbones accentuated by her tiedback hair.
She's wearing something blue and filmy that shouts money.
She doesn't want to eat because she's worried about her figure, but she does want to drink.
Her tipple is Bollinger 1998 at £180 a go.
My jaw drops, but I have to remember this is her world. As confidently as possible, I take out my wallet.
She tells me that though she's from Moscow, she holidays in Mustique and Monaco and loves Prada.
I ask if she's heard of Primark. She hasn't. And then we're off.
Natalia wants us to meet her friends at a nightclub. I
t's called Pangaea and it's popular with visiting Russians and the younger members of the Royal Family.
This is where Prince Harry took it upon himself to lash out at a photographer, so I know it must be a classy joint.
She gets in free, but it costs me £30. We sit with two other Russian girls and Natalia demands I buy more champagne - which leaves me £150 less well off (not that I was well off anyway).
There's much laughter and joviality. Unfortunately, much of it is in Russian and I'm beginning to feel my function is merely to pick up the bill.
Where is this going? Does Natalia see all men - me included - as cash cows?
It is 4.23am when Natalia and I leave, together, and she sees the wristwatch - £33,000-worth of antique gold, silver and precious stones - in the shop window. So that's where she thinks it's going.
I make my excuses, as they say, and leave. I feel a little let down by Natalia's commercial approach and decide it's wise - if only for the sake of my bank manager's sanity - that we don't see each other again.
Natalia seems less than upset when I tell her so.
Next day, I head west to Chelsea, home of the ultimate oligarch, Roman Abramovich.
There seem to be more Russians in Chelsea than were at the Siege of Stalingrad. They haunt stylish bars, ostentatious restaurants and swanky hotels. Understated good taste is not their scene.
It is here that I meet Svetlana. I'm pretending to be working on my laptop in a bar when I hear the now unmistakable sound of Russian being spoken. Time to make my move.
I've perfected a blatant approach. Once I'm fairly sure the girl is Russian (normally by eavesdropping on her conversations), I sidle over and make lighthearted small-talk to assess the situation. Favoured topics
of conversation would be the barman, for example, the bar or the club.
Continuing a conversation with an available Russianista from there on isn't difficult.
After all, she was there to find a suitable man - and I was there to find a suitable woman.
I take Svetlana to the American Bar at the Savoy.
Even without her sixinch heels, she is tall. (I'm 6ft 1in and she towers over me.)
She's from St Petersburg, she tells me, and is 24. She adores nightclubs and giggles about getting in free on account of her uscule skirts.
She tells me: "I find myself very good-looking."
She is proud of her curves - "Men are not dogs, they don't like bones" - and long legs.
As she sips her chilled Vodka Martini she tells me she wants to see more of the world, travelling first class.
Top of her list is Venice. "Venice is one of the seven wonders of the world," she informs me.
As the evening goes on, it turns out Svetlana thinks Disney World in Florida is another of the seven wonders of the world.
As is Nelson's column, apparently. I steer the conversation away from the Millennium Wheel, the Dome of St Paul's and Big Ben...Svetlana turns her attention to hair colour and asks me if I think brunettes are more intelligent than blondes. I tell her I don't.
She nods enthusiastically. "Yes, because if you were a blonde and dyed your hair brunette, how would that make a difference?" I'm impressed by her logic.
"There are even people who think blondes are stupid," she laughs, shaking her golden hair in delight.
I order another Martini. Svetlana tells me that an ex-boyfriend bought her a convertible Mini. I sense she would expect the same from me.
I have a fun evening with Svetlana, but it is obvious that my most important charm (apart from my tolerance of endless discussion of hair colour) is what she believes to be my wealth.
That's what she's looking for - and she'll find it, because she's determined to. But not from me.
In a hotel bar near Hyde Park Corner, I find Ludmila. While ordering drinks, I strike up conversation. She is a brunette and intelligent. Frighteningly intelligent.
She's 23 and has a Double First from Cambridge.
She's been in England since her parents sent her to boarding school at the age of 15.
We go to a restaurant and she suggests we drink straight vodka.
She is doing her final practical training to become a pathologist. I watch in awe as she expertly dissects her rare steak.
In order to justify my interest in Russian women, I have claimed a knowledge of the nation's literature.
To my horror, between bloody mouthfuls she starts to question me on Tolstoy. I more or less carry it off - and adjust my mental stereotype of a Muscovite moll.
It's an enjoyable evening, and oddly I don't feel she is one of the Russianistas seeking wealth above all else.
Money, however, seems to be assumed in an eligible man.
The meal costs an arm and a leg - the best part of £200. Ludmila does not bat an eyelid and she has no plans on going dutch.
I wonder when the last time was that she paid for anything.
I drop her off in the taxi, and the next morning she sends me a text message telling me she had a nice time.
In other circumstances I might have seen her again, but my wallet would not allow it.
Nastia proves less complicated. She's pretty, pale-skinned and has a pixie-like expression. Audrey Hepburn meets Bjork.
Having overheard her accent in a small coffee shop in central London, I strike up conversation and invite her out for dinner. She consents.
I am sensing a pattern here. These gals will happily accede to a request for a date from any man who looks loaded.
Whether you ever actually get a second date depends on whether you really are rich.
Perhaps there's a sliding scale: first base if you're worth a million, second base for two million.
I ask Nastia where she'd like to go. She says Nobu (one of London's most fashionable and expensive restaurants).
Nastia tells me it's her particular ambition to get to know an Englishman and explains that she is turned on by "money and power". At least she's honest.
She would like to meet a "self-sufficient man which is engaged in favourite business".
I'm delighted when she tells me she finds me a "cheerful person" and that it would be "desirable to communicate further with me".
She adds: "I hope for serious attitude from you."
I take Nastia to Nobu and she apologises for her English.
I tell her it's far better than my Russian. She asks me what I mean. The evening turns into a series of mistranslations.
I ask where in Russia she comes from.
"Vilnius." she replies. "But that's Lithuania," I say, exhibiting my GCSE geography.
"When I born, it in Soviet Union. So I'm Russian. I don't like Lithuanians."
Despite the language barrier, Nastia seems keen and at one point leans over the table and whispers in my ear: "You are my white horse man."
Keen not to lead her on, I tell her I ought to make the last Tube home.
She tells me: "I think we met because of satellites hitting."
She really must think I'm Mr Moneybags to be giving me this spiel.
Having remortgaged my flat, I am able to pay the bill at Nobu, and Nastia and I part as friends. I am beginning to think that even if they are all golddiggers, they are tremendous fun.
But then I encounter Oxana from Ekaterinburg, whom I've been put in touch with through a friend.
She wants to meet me near the Bank of England. This is clearly a woman who likes the proximity of money.
I book a restaurant with a Michelin-starred chef and wait in the bar for her to arrive. Blonde with harsh features, she briskly shakes my hand and refuses a drink from the bar. She wants a cup of tea.
Then, in a whiney voice, she begins to catalogue her complaints about life.
She hates the weather, she is cold, she is tired and she doesn't feel well.
And she doesn't live in Kensington, near all her Russian friends, and is angry about it.
We move into the restaurant and examine the menu.
After a moment she puts it down and says: "There is nothing I wish to eat on this card."
"Nothing at all?" I ask. "Nothing."
I mentally shrug and go over to the maitre d' and explain discreetly: "I'm very sorry but something's come up and we have to leave."
At this point, Oxana joins us. "To which restaurant do we go now?" she asks loudly.
Finally we find a restaurant she approves of.
Now she doesn't want tea: she grabs the wine list.
She explains to me that she had been married to a man from Azerbaijan who was resident in the UK.
Now they are divorced. On the basis of my evening with her, he will have had no difficulty proving unreasonable behaviour.
Throughout the meal she keeps talking on her mobile phone (in Russian).
She asks me whether I have any single friends because all her friends want to meet men.
"Are they Russian?" I ask. "Of course."
I bid farewell to Oxana, muttering good riddance once she's out of earshot.
Natalia, Ludmila, Nastia, Svetlana, Oxana - were they typical? It had become clear to me that I had only scratched the surface - that there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands out there, looking for a rich British date.
But let me offer a word of warning to over-sexed Englishmen hoping for an easy catch and quick escape.
These Russians are no credulous bimbos. Nor are they one-night escorts in search of a smart restaurant, champagne and a taxi home.
They may be hot stuff, but they are smarter than you, more determined than you - and probably taller than you, too.
So think twice before messing with an unattached Russian lady. Believe me, there will be a high price to pay.
On behalf of No Ma'am, Rob Fedders would like to reaffirm his delight in the following website: