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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 07:02 GMT
Russians live by Iranian rules
A woman on a Bushehr beach
Acceptable beachwear in Bushehr
More than a thousand Russian nuclear experts and their families living in Iran have to ensure their conduct does not offend the sensibilities of an Islamic society.

A report on Russian television showed the conditions in which the Russians building the nuclear power station at Bushehr live and work.

The channel described Bushehr - situated on Iran's Gulf coast - as "almost a paradise on earth" during the spring, but said that the heat in summer could be unbearable for the Russians.

Bushehr power station under construction
The influence of mosque architecture is apparent
Iran commissioned Russia to build the Bushehr reactor in January 1994 after a German company pulled out.

The first reactor is due to be completed within the next 12 months, earning Russia between $800m and one billion dollars.

Strict laws

The Russians are striving to conform to local norms - with varying degrees of success.

Their special settlement - described as "an oasis surrounded by double walls with barbed wire on top" - has 500 houses, a shop and roads bearing the names of Moscow streets.

But Iran's security service Harasat is ever present. Armed motorcyclists have a dual function - to see that the workers have a "calm and quiet atmosphere" in which to relax, and to ensure that Islamic laws are not violated.

Wall poster reminding women to observe the Islamic dress code
Suitable styles for Bushehr's streets
Women are expected to observe the Islamic dress code by wearing the full-length black cloak, the hejab, and strict laws apply to activities such as swimming.

"A woman once appeared in a swimming pool wearing a European swimming suit. One of the security men grabbed her and tried to beat her because she had breached the Islamic law," resident Gennadiy Bychenko said.

Rest and relaxation

A room for religious services and chess games
Quiet pastimes are in, rowdy parties out
Sporting activities play an important part in the life of the community - especially as other leisure activities such as going to the cinema or to clubs are out of the question - and workers can also watch football matches on cable TV.

A room is set aside for Orthodox religious services - a Tehran-based priest visits on the main Orthodox holidays - and chess is also popular.


If there is an appropriate occasion, everyone has a drink stored away

Viktor Malyushev
Social occasions are in theory "dry", as no alcohol can be purchased in Bushehr, but the Russians have found ways of getting round this.

"Both on holidays and on weekdays, if there is an appropriate occasion, everyone has a drink stored away," Viktor Malyushev, chief of the plant's chemical protection directorate, told the television station.

The report said that the Iranian authorities were turning a blind eye to the use of makeshift stills in the Bushehr settlement, and that the inhabitants referred to moonshine as "a jab against Islam".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

12 Mar 01 | Middle East
Russia backs Iran nuclear programme
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