Russian tourists will soon be making the trek to Turkey as they look for a new life.
While most Russians have only seen the city of Istanbul and the surrounding regions for short periods of time, a growing number of Russians are now moving to the capital of the former Soviet Union, Ankara, to explore its many cultural, historic, and natural attractions.
“Russian tourists in the past few years have increased dramatically,” says Arash, a Russian national who travels to Turkey frequently.
Arash, who also goes by the nom de guerre Zoltan, is one of many Russian travelers who plan to travel to Turkey during the summer months, when many Russians will be vacationing in the southern Turkish city of Gaziantep.
Arash says his goal is to make it to Istanbul by the end of the year.
The reason is because he thinks the Turkish capital is an incredible destination.
In addition to being the largest city in Turkey, Ankara is also the capital for the entire region of Turkey, which covers an area of 2.6 million square kilometers (1.8 million square miles).
Turkish tourists, on the other hand, are often wary of the city, which is famous for being the epicenter of the countrys biggest crime wave in recent years.
There are numerous reasons why Russian tourists are increasingly turning their eyes to Turkey.
Russian tourism has increased at a faster rate in recent months, and more than 4,000 Russian nationals have already visited the country.
Moreover, Russian-Turkish relations have been improving in recent weeks, with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signing a joint statement that made the two countries look like friends.
But many Russians, especially those who have only lived in the country for a short period of time and who are looking to return home, are hesitant to travel back to the former USSR.
For some, the decision to visit Turkey comes as a surprise.
“It’s very weird, and I don’t really understand why they are doing it,” said Sergey, a 35-year-old Russian national living in Gazianteps home town of Gazovas city of Gagarin.
“I think they should really take a look at their own borders, especially if they want to leave Russia,” he said.
However, Sergey says he does not plan to stay in Turkey.
“I am not planning to stay there,” he told The Huffington News.
“That would be too risky, and even if I were to go, I would have to leave behind my Russian friends.
I would not want to be in a place that I would find so unpleasant.”
Russia is one country that is already attracting more Russians than ever before.
Russian tourism to Turkey grew from 3.5 million in 2009 to 9.2 million in 2014.
Although Turkey has the largest Russian population in the world, Russian tourists have been steadily increasing their numbers.
In 2014, Russian nationals accounted for 12.5 percent of the world’s tourists, while Turkish tourists made up 11.3 percent.
As the Russian population increases, so does the number of Russian visitors to Turkey, and Russia’s economy has also grown rapidly.
According to data from the Russian Embassy in Turkey’s capital, Ankara in March 2016, Russia accounted for more than $20 billion in foreign direct investment, up from $18 billion in 2015.
Even though Russians and Turks have had a long and close relationship, some Russian nationals are worried about the possible impact of Russian tourism on the Turkish-Russian bilateral relationship.
Some Russian nationals say the Russian government has used Turkey to hide the real state of relations between the two nations.
Sergey, who was born in Turkey and now lives in the United States, said he thinks Turkish government policies have been very hypocritical in the last few years.
“The Turkish government has always been more interested in promoting tourism in Russia than promoting relations with Russia,” Sergey said.
“This is what makes the Turkish government very aggressive.”
According to Sergey, Russian tourism in Turkey has increased exponentially since the fall of the Soviet Union.
He is optimistic that the Russian-Turkic relationship will improve.
If Russian tourists make it back to Turkey in the coming years, Sergey hopes to see his Russian friends there.
“We will try to make new friends in Turkey,” he added.