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Cultural Behavior in Russia

Whether you're visiting Russia for pleasure or business, there some unwritten codes of behavior and cultures you should be aware of.

Most Russians refer to each other by first name plus surname or father's name. You can get away with using first names with people your age, but only because you're a foreigner. In business settings, always be formal, even if you know your colleagues well.

When visiting someone's apartment, is customary to bring a gift. Flowers (odd numbers only and not yellow or white flowers, which are used for funerals), chocolates, and desserts are traditionally well received. Do not bring personal items (such as perfumes) for the hostess, but small decorative tokens for the house are ok.

There are a lot of traditions regarding clothes also. Most theaters, cinemas, and restaurants have a cloak room, where you should store your coat and hat upon entering, as it is considered rude to wear them indoors. When visiting somebody, you're also expected to remove your shoes. Some people will offer you special house shoes, but walking around in your socks is perfectly acceptable. Russians wear dressier clothes than most Westerners, so make sure you pack a few quality items. Women wear heels all day long (even for supermarket shopping) and men often attend college in full suits. Casual clothing will identify you as a tourist and make you an easier target for pickpocketers.

Speaking loudly or whistling in public places is associated with uneducated people, so avoid calling attention to yourself. Overall, try to keep a low profile and be polite to everybody you meet. Courtesy goes a long way in Russia.


User Comments & Reviews: 1 Comment(s)

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Paul Peterson - 2009-11-17 20:52:50

I live in Wisconsin and many Russians work in this area.The Russian people are hard working and respected here,they are always polite and when and if they go back to Russia,our loss when you leave.

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