‘Beautiful women’: Russia welcomes expats with bizarre new video featuring Ukrainian model

·3-min read

Looking for a change of scene?

Russia’s “beautiful women, cheap gas, and traditional values” await you, according to a bizarre new video shared by a Russian embassy.

The 53 second clip urges foreigners to “move to Russia” by listing the country’s supposed virtues.

But one of the "beautiful women" shown in the clip is a Ukrainian model whose father is reportedly fighting the Russian invasion.

What is in the 'move to Russia' video?

Originally posted on YouTube by a pro-Russian group called Signal, the clip begins with a disembodied voiceover.

“This is Russia,” he declares, accompanied by stirring music.

Stock footage of women, natural landscapes, and sculptures fill the screen.

“Delicious cuisine, beautiful women, cheap gas, rich history,” the voice booms.

“World-famous literature, unique architecture, fertile soil, cheap electricity and water.

“Traditional values, Christianity, no cancel culture, hospitality, vodka.”

If you can resist the irresistible combination of ‘cheap taxi and delivery’ and ‘ballet,’ the video has one more draw card.

“Economy that can withstand thousands of sanctions,” the voice boasts.

This is the video’s only overt reference to the war in Ukraine. Almost six months after Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine, the conflict has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.

Russian Embassy
The final shot in a new video tells viewers to hurry to Russia because "winter is coming." - Russian Embassy

The video ends on a baffling note, urging would-be immigrants to hurry up.

“Move to Russia. Don’t delay - winter is coming, the video urges.

It’s unclear whether this is a reference to a catchphrase from the popular TV show Game of Thrones.

Some commentators have interpreted the line as a reference to Russia’s control of much of Europe’s gas supply.

“Does “Winter is coming” mean they might stop pumping gas to Europe (or otherwise spread more misery)?” tweeted American author Kurt Anderson.

Who is the Ukrainian model in the video?

One of the 'beautiful women' featured in the video is Sonya Kapitonova, a 27-year-old Ukrainian model.

Kapitonova's family are still in Ukraine, she told French Newspaper Libération - and she "never supported" Russia's invasion.

"My whole family is in Ukraine: my little brother cannot leave the country, my mother works at home and my father is fighting," she said.

The video of Kapitonova was picked up by Signal after the videographer who filmed the clip sold it to an online footage bank.

Ironically, the exact same clip appears in a May 2022 music video by Ukrainian singer Angy Kreyda. In the song - titled Vrazhe (“Enemy”) - Kreyda casts a hex on the “Russian enemies” of Ukraine.

It's not the only ironic moment in the pro-Russian expat video. Ironically, the first shot of the clip - a shot of a coat of arms at the Ukraine Pavilion in a Moscow exhibition centre - features Ukrainian script.

How has the Russian video been received online?

The video has been ridiculed online, with Twitter users mocking its "cringe" tone and use of generic footage.

“This looks so terrible I have no words,” wrote one user.

“Do they think this video will entice foreigners to move to Russia? Really?”

“State-controlled Telegram channels won’t stop bragging about this video,” tweeted Fatima Tlisova, a Russian-American journalist.

“Not sure who is the creator. But wow, just watch it. If the Russians didn’t promote it, I’d think this was a satire. Why do they think this could attract foreigners to move to Russia?”

Tlisova points out that one of the authors shown in the video - under the heading ‘world famous literature’ - is Nikolai Gogol, who was Ukrainian by birth.

Others took issue with the representation of women in the film. Much of the video’s 53 seconds is taken up with images of women and girls - in the bath, running through a field, and sitting in the kitchen.

A parody video - featuring shots of empty shelves, Russian police shutting down protests and mouldy food - has received more than 1.1 million views.

“This version is infinitely more accurate,” one user tweeted.

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