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"What happened is the advent of all these online travel sites put a lot of pressure on these traditional models, with people going online and booking their own flights," he said."The internet cuts out the middleman and the agency is the classic middleman."A more ominous explanation for the shift would be the passage in 2005 of the International Marriage Brokerage Act.I chatted with Natalya Galugan, a pretty 26-year-old from Kryvyi Rih.She said she gets up to three messages a day from men, "90% from Muslim countries" like Egypt, Turkey and Jordan.For months, he'd been spamming the profiles of thousands of random Ukrainian women in a virtual quest to find a wife, chatting up whoever would respond with the help of Google Translate.But the moment he got his first message from Chumakova, asking why he'd friended her, he knew his search was over."I just had a feeling," Ewald said.As Eastern Europe undergoes a debate which Russian social networks have the best women, and the best way to pick them up: "If you go to one of the many group dedicated to foreign languages or foreign countries, there will be plenty of single, young attractive women, and your success rate will be much, much higher," explains one.

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*** Stephen Ewald, a 40-year-old accountant from Michigan, met his fiancée — a 24-year-old Ukrainian named Alina Chumakova — on VKontakte in 2009.Agency rosters are stuffed with savvy "pro-daters" who are just out for gifts and cash handouts, they blogger who says his Ukrainian ex-girlfriend was hired to correspond with lovelorn Westerners on Anastasia International, one of the more popular agencies.With that in mind, men like Stephen Ewald are bypassing dating agencies and going straight to the source: The social networks that are increasingly popular in Eastern Europe.The "romance tours," where schlubby middle-aged American divorcees pay thousands of dollars to meet these leggy blondes in Ukraine or Russia, are But some men have grown wary of the industry that promises them lifelong happiness with a woman from the economically-depressed country of their choice.They complain that the agencies are corrupt, and more interested in making money than matches.The mail-order bride industry is fascinating and troubling because it extends the cold logic of capitalist globalization to the very personal institution of marriage.

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