Naturally, foreigners were viewed as a bridge to the more developed and "civilized" West.
The popular rock group Kombinatsiya summed up in endearing, if flawed, English what was most on Russian girls' minds: "American boy, American joy. " Russian women gained a name for going weak in the knees for anyone from the West.
"Who the most desirable foreigners are, depends on fashion. Following an economic boom during Putin's first term, living standards have improved and many of the perks of living in the West are now on offer in Moscow too.
In a poll conducted in 2009 by Superjob.ru, one in four women aged 55 or older said she wanted a foreign husband.
"You can just speak English and heads will turn," said Sean, 26, an English language teacher.
Russian women are also more forward, he says: "You can just be talking to someone and some beautiful girl will come up to you with a chat-up line.
Many of the agencies also offer English language courses and translators to facilitate online communication.Initially, women were hoping to find a partner from the United States, then Britain.