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Russians Look Askance at "Made in China" Label

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It's been two decades since the fall of the USSR, and visitors to Russia still demand Soviet-era souvenirs.

"Americans don't know what the Russian emblem looks like, but they know the Soviet Union," a vendor named Denis, "who has peddled cheap souvenirs at [Moscow's] Izmailovsky Park for more than 15 years," tells Khristina Narizhnaya of the Moscow Times. "Lenin would outsell Putin any day."

These days, however, many of the collectibles going home with travelers are non-natives themselves, with knockoff Soviet trinkets being manufactured by the shipping containerful in China.

The fakes, which include newly-made "antique" busts of Stalin, nesting dolls, and vintage military gear, are "usually lighter and have misspellings," according to antiques vendor Andrei Malyshev.

Some, like wood carver Oleg Avdeyev, have grudgingly accepted the new realities of manufacturing in the world today, and has begun selling cheap imports alongside his own handmade pieces.

"Space is expensive, I had to diversify," he told Narizhnava.

But Pyotr Yenov, who has a pin stall in Izmailovsky Park, turned down an offer from a group of entrepreneurial Chinese businessmen.

"They offered to manufacture pins for Yenov for much cheaper than he does at his factory. But Yenov declined. He said he is a patriot, and besides, he does not trust their quality," Narizhnava explains.

Malyshev recalls another vendor's difficulty in trying to unload a set of Chinese-made Grandfather Frost dolls some time back.

"People noticed there was something not quite right," he says. "The colors were dead and the [faces of the] dolls looked Chinese."
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