Alexey Ivanov used to be a tax lawyer in Yoshkar Ola, in the Republic of Mari El, Russia. He chose to leave Russia and his low paying, though interesting job, to work as a mushroom picker in Ireland because he couldn't provide for his wife and two daughters. It was a very dark time for Alexey but his family have since joined him in Ireland and he now works for a builder's suppliers in Trim, so life has improved somewhat.
Poetry is a fundamental part of Alexey's life. He describes himself as poet and journalist, and came third in an international Russian Poetry Tournament in London last year. This year he is serving as a judge in the competition. He began writing poetry about ten years ago and of late has become a fan of Patrick Kavanagh's poems... In fact he would like to translate some of Kavanagh's work into Russian and popularise Irish Culture among Russian people. Alexey also writes articles for Ireland's Russian newspaper "Nasha Gazeta" (Our newspaper).
Alexey is really proud of his home city Yoshkar Ola for its culture and music. He would go back if conditions changed in Russia but Alexey doesn't think that is ever going to happen, so he's hoping to become an Irish citizen.
The Republic of Mari El
Russian and Volga Finnic
Mari is an autonomous republic on the eastern side of the Russian Federation. Its capital city is Yoshkar Ola which is 525km east of Moscow. The republic spans 90 miles north to south and 170 miles east to west.
It has a temperate continental climate. Temperature in winter can drop to -13 Celsius and summer days, particularly in July, can reach 35 Celsius.
Forests cover 57% of the region's territory and provide the raw material of lumber industries like paper pulp and woodworking. Other industries of importance include the production of pharmaceuticals, engineering and food processing. However wages in the republic are extremely low.
Russian Orthodox, Islam and Traditional Mari religion
Yoshkar Ola is sometimes known as the "City of Brides" due to the large amount of foreign men who go there looking for a Russian Bride.
Roman Abramovich. Billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club