As the largest country in the world, Russia has 11 time zones and is rich in history and traditions. This massive and beautiful country is home to a variety of arts including literature, ballet, classical music, architecture, cinema, philosophy and painting.
Russians prefer to take their time to know someone and usually tend to be somewhat guarded and closed until a relationship is formed.
A handshake is a common greeting but hugs are sometimes welcome too. Keep in mind that direct eye contact is expected and is seen as a sign of respect as well as trustworthiness.
Always Look Good
Russians prefer to be well-dressed and groomed for every occasion. Many people do not own a lot of clothes, but will always have a few garments of high quality.
On a daily basis, most Russians wear Western-style clothes including special occasions. Traditional clothing can be seen being worn during cultural performances.
Despite current modern era, chivalry is highly valued in Russian society. Men are expected to hold the door, give up their seat and be well-mannered.
Bringing gifts to an initial business meeting is common, but when invited to a Russian home, appropriate gifts include high quality chocolates, sweets and fine wine.
Going out for a drink together is highly recommended as it shows interest in strengthening relationships and promoting goodwill. While drinking is acceptable in designated places, it is considered impolite to drink excessively.
Mind Your Manners
Remember that the American “OK” sign, giving thumbs-up and putting your thumb in between your middle and index finger while making a fist are considered to be obscene gestures.
It is also considered rude to point with your finger, but it is more acceptable to use your whole hand. Placing your feet on top of the furniture is considered bad taste as it shows the soles to another person.
Russia is home to nearly 200 ethnic groups. Based on the World CIA Factbook 2010 estimates, Russia’s ethnic groups are 77.7% Russian, 3.7% Tatar, 1.4% Ukrainian, 1.1% Bashkir, 1% Chuvash, 1% Chechen with 10.2% other and another 3.9% is unspecified.
The country has a large population that are non-practicing believers and non-believers as a legacy of the seven decades of Soviet rule. Russia officially recognises Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism as traditional religions. These religions are comprised of 15-20% Russian Orthodox, 10-15% Muslims, and 2% other Christians, based on 2006 estimates.