Since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Vadim has moved to Yerevan from Saint Petersburg together with his wife and three children, trying to quickly start something that would help them make a living and stop worrying… One of the oldest buildings on Aram Street became the new space for realization of Vadim’s idea in Yerevan.

Vadim, businessman, Saint Petersburg
When I saw this space, I thought, “Gosh, this can be a place of real connection and encounters for people! First, we rented the inner space and the yard, as we did not want to invest much in interior renovation at that point. Together with our guests, we decided to develop the process, furnish the interior, and then do the opening. We announced about it, telling that we needed support. Thanks to a mutual help, we started the renovation. The driving force was first of all my experience and the desire to create… We started organizing exhibitions, concerts, stand-ups, talks and other events, planning everything with our guests… Subsequently, we rented the second and third floors as well. Now creative people – ceramic artists, musicians – are working here. So, you can go upstairs, take part in a ceramic workshop or get a tattoo.”
Vadim’s TUF café is not a regular place. It is a multipolar and multifunctional venue, where according to migrants one may feel at home.

TUF organizes concerts for emerging music bands, holds board games championships, comedy shows and special evenings. TUF initiates encounters where people share their experience in Armenia and successful business stories. There is also a recording studio and a cozy working space, a guitar store as well. In short, it is busy here.

TUF is also an experimental platform presenting Russian subculture in another cultural scene, where everyone is free to share their creative quests with others.

“Our café got its name by chance after the Armenian stone… We were making benches for the venue and decided to use stone… In classifieds, we would often come across links that were selling the Armenian stone tuff. In one of the ads, I read the following, “For sale – Armenian stone, tuff… Oh, oh, oh… tuf-tuf-tuf.”

This phrase stuck in our heads, and we named the place TUF and used ” tuf-tuf-tuf” as a slogan… I think it is within the Armenian context and is very  rhythmic. It is also light and sounds fun.”

Vadim did not finish his higher education. He used to sell guitars in Saint Petersburg. He likes playing the guitar, he is good at many different things and copes with them like a pro.

“It was hard for me to accept what happened in February… I cannot put up with it. It is both a global and personal tragedy. We chose Armenia for practical reasons – I didn’t have an international passport to travel abroad. Armenia was the only destination. I thought we would arrive and it would be warm and green here, but it was a cold grey winter in Yerevan… From the very first moment of coming here, it was clear that we had to survive, do something so that we wouldn’t give way to angst… This pushed us to look for a space, which is now operating.”

TUF may be regarded as a communication platform for Russian contemporaries in Armenia given that it will bring a culture of changes after some time.

“Armenia captivated me with its colors – sepia tones and warm hospitality. I really appreciate human relationships, the way people interact here and the progressive youth. Over time, I will be able to understand Armenians better. In any case, there is an open communication here, which lacks in Moscow or other big cities… I don’t have a feeling that something is missing… Though in Armenia the war has recently ended and escalations still take place, it is important to know you are not living in an aggressor country… I am next to the people who can defend themselves. That’s how I don’t identify myself with the negative image of a warmonger state. As I have travelled a lot, I don’t have an attachment to a specific geographical area. Generally, I am attached to people. Luckily, my family is with me.”

From right to left: Yulia, illustrator, Saint Petersburg. Grisha, musician, works at TUF, Vologda. Ksenia, musician, backing vocalist in “Gogolem” band, Saint Peterburg. Vsevolod, composer, lead singer of “Gogolem” band, Saint Petersburg. Liza, architect and designer, Saint Petersburg. Arseniy, musician, Moscow. Yulia, manager, works at TUF, Rostov-on- Don. Svyatoslav, software developer, Saint Petersburg.
“Russia has taught me not to make plans, to just drift along, and in case of changes to adapt sometimes. My credo is live, live, live and not do evil… TUF is also based on this principle – a functioning concept with a concept. Everything that takes place here allows people to exchange good experience, energy, skills…

To my compatriots who are here I wish “барев дзес” (good day)”.
Vadim, businessman, Saint Petersburg