Myths and Truth about Russia

General questions of life in Russia, sharing experience, interesting facts and discussions

Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby Beholder » 30 Jan 2009, 12:53

Myths and Truths about Russia

Sometimes we hear and see so many striking, odd and new things about Russia on TV or in newspapers or from the people we meet, that I think I'm missing something! Really, it turns out I live at such a dangerous place flooded with mafiosi, catastrophes, bombings happening all the time, with deadly cold winters, demolished economy, depressed people that I'm really surprised I'm still alive and living here. The point is that all those things about Russia are either not true or very much exaggerated.

Truth: Really, many people think that Russia is some place filled with Mafia and it's so dangerous to come here. Well, there is Mafia, but it's like that in every place in the world and Russia is not more dangerous than anywhere else, even less dangerous. If you know where to stay, keep away from the "bad" places, do your normal traveler's things and practice your normal traveler's safety, you'll be okay. You can only have contact with criminals when you're into something illegal, like buying or selling drugs, or are really looking for trouble. Really, think about it: why would anybody have problems because of you? The Mafiosi spend all their time making business, the gangs spend all their time dealing with each other, so you certainly will not experience any of that. Also there's so much police on the streets of Moscow it seems like the safest place in the world.

Truth: If you know how it's done then it's no problem. All the paperwork you need are your passport and an invitation from Russia. It's easy now to get the invitation, and you don't need to book an expensive hotel for the whole period of your stay. The invitations can be made through hotels/hostels (which will ask you to book one night), or travel agencies (which will ask you only money), and the price in both cases will be $25-$35 US for an invitation. The invitation can be sent to you by fax. After you received the invitaiton, you just need to bring it to Russian consulate to get your visa. A Russian visa costs around $50-$60 US (for this price it's ready in 7-14 days), and if you pay more it takes only one day to process. See more about invitation, Russian visa and registration in our Russian Visa section.
Now, some people say it's too long and expensive to get here, but if you travel to Eastern Europe, Russia is really close and not exspensive to get to. A one way bus trip Berlin - Moscow shouldn't be more expensive than $60 US. A one way train ticket (2nd class) from Riga (Latvia) to Moscow costs about $50 US (and it takes 15-16 hours), a one way bus ticket from Tallin (Estonia) to St. Petersburg costs $10 (and it takes 5 hours), a one way train ticket from Poland to St. Petersburg or Moscow will be around $50 US.
If you want to know more about these and other better options to get to (and from) Russia, check out our Transportation section.

Truth: Not more than anywhere else. It's just that Russia is a very big country and it's size is like both Europe's and United States', do you think there are more disasters happening in Russia than in the whole Europe and United States together?

Truth: Well, it's not quite true, though many people think so and they have their reasons. The economy is rising now, becoming more and more independent and stable, but unfortunately there's a temptation to do it at the cost of heavy industries (like oil & gas, resources etc.) which turns Russia into a country, that sells resources only.
At the same time Russia tries to keep up with the latest technological advances, and to improve the side of the economy that workes especially for people. It can be seen: I traveled around Europe a lot and to my mind the quality of services in Russia is among the best. Almost all shops are opened 24 hours here, there are currency exchanges on every step (even in smaller towns), cell phone providers offer much more attractive and less expensive deals. Russia is becoming very capitalist and consumer-friendly.
Also, the government is starting to understand that it's there not to suck money, but to help people and the country, but there's a high level of corrution and a high dumb-head factor still.
At the same time the increasing gap between poor and rich people intensifies social tension in society; there are broken down towns and villages (with dead industries); there are lost people not required in the new system and having nothing to do - therefore drunkenness, narcotics and crimes; low paid old people are really just trying to survive; low salaries in state-employment result in bribes to customs, police...
The good side is that there are more and more people who adapt to the new system, and who understand that they depend not on the government (like in old Soviet times), but on themselves now, and what can be seen and felt now is that the people are changing, their attitude is changing, they understand that only by acting themselves will they achieve something, they look quite optimistic to the future and that means everything is going to be all right. There are young people who want to change how things are and people are trying to do something to make their life better. It works, there are more and more "middle class" people. But the problem with poor, old and "lost" people remains.

Truth: It's not very cold, though sometimes it might be quite freezing. But if you have warm clothes, you'll be ok. Generally, the lowest is minus 10 or 15 Celsius in the winter, though it might sometimes (rarely) go as low as minus 25 or 30, but even that is not very cold, because it's not humid. And the true thing about Russian winter is that it's very beautiful, that is right. I like it!

Truth: Russians are not racists. Even in the communist time people were raised up on the idea that everybody was equal. The only thing is that few middle-aged and old people have something against the States. But they'll not insult or offend a tourist because of that. Just don't hurt anybody's patriotic feelings.
Anyway, Russians are more often than not very open and generous to the foreigners.

Truth: Maybe, but after ages of driking they have a strong immune against alchohol, so they don't become drunk too fast. Also vodka is considered to be the best thing to warm oneself up with in winter. And, in fact, I have the same stereotype about .. uhm... British. Do they really drink as much beer every day as they say?
Seriously, alchoholism is a big problem in Russia, especially among older people. After the collapse of Soviet Union, many people got lost and instead of dealing with the new challenges, they decided to escape their problems through drinking. Because of that, families are unhappy, many people are unemployed, people don't want to build something new, but want to drift into the 'careless' state of mind and not to do anything.


Comment (received 14/06/02): "My son 16 year old went to Moscow. He was scared to walk around alone, he'd been told stories about how racist the people were on the roads, especially the older people who he says curse and ill treat foreigners. As a non white European he felt safe only in his group."
Answer: Well, it's a pity if they (the crazy old babushakas and dedushkas) were cursing and ill treat him on the street, but I don't think those people are dangerous... I'm a white Russian and when I walk in Moscow or take public transport there's an old person almost every day pissing me off about something. It's just the way they are... I don't find them treatening though, the best thing is just not to pay attention to them.
Also, I never heard about anyone being openly racists, it's the first time. I agree that sometimes Russians (especially in smaller towns) look at black people more, but that is because they are interested, it's not often there' s a black person in Russia... When I went to India in some areas I was the only white person around an people were gazing at me, as if I'm from another planet... And of couse, there was a different attitude towards me, because I'm not one of them, but I don't consider it as racism...

Comment (received 21/06/02): "I was in Moscow in 1994, great experience!! I'm planning to return this year. I think people have a misconception about Russia because so few people were able to travel to Russia until the past decade. What tips would you give a traveler who wants to experience the 'real' Russia, it's culture and people."
Answer: If you want to experience 'real' Russia, you should stay away from tour groups, big expensive hotels, and postcard views. To me, 'real' Russia is a mix of west and east, of fancy streets and quiet residential areas, of busy city life and 'laid-back' provincial atmosphere. So, I would propose not to do typical tourist things, but to try to pretend as if you live in Russia. Also, to get the whole picture of what life is like here, it's not enough to go to Moscow and St. Petersburg, you should definitely visit one or two provincial towns to get the "feel" of Russia.

Comment (received 21/06/02): "I heard that Russian girls are quite different from others, ?"
Answer: Yes, they seem to be, if you mean being different from women in Europe or in the US. But it's hard to say how specifically, because it will be a generalisation and very subjective for every person. Generally, the striking thing to any person who's coming to Russia for the first time is that Russian girls are wearing very "open" dresses, mostly in Summer, of course. Maybe it's because it was kind of suppressed in the Soviet times? Also, they seem to be planning their life less than western people, but nevertheless are very pragmatic. Many foreigners, whom I talked with, noticed to me, that Russian women want to live "here and now" rather than planning something long-term. However, this "here and now" should be good quality too, so that's where they are pragmatic. They are not too career oriented, but many are looking for an ideal man, who will be handsome and rich (however they like to be independent too, so they look carefully). There are also completely different types of people, of course, very 'western-like' and there are more and more of them. They are very well educated, career-oriented, and independent. It's like in any other country -- people are different.
For now, that's all I can think of, if you have any comments, please, write. Also, it would be interesting to hear how different Russian men are. For some reason everybody's asking about the women, but the men are forgotten.

Comment (received 26/06/02): "I visited your country for the first time, three weeks ago. I was in Moscow, and some little towns arround, and in Peterburg. I and my friends feel very well. We enjoy the country very much. Russian people is very, very kind. I'll be back, as soon as possible."

Comment (received 29/06/02): "this websight fucking rocks."
Answer: Thank you, this kind of feedback is what keeps us going (really).

Comment (received 30/06/02): "I heard recently that people were being beaten up by skinheads in the metro. I am a chinese girl who will be going to moscow alone in July, are there anything that I should be aware of to avoid situations like that?"

Comment (received 1/07/02): "I have not yet been to Russian but had a very wonderful time with some Russian athelets during the winter oylmpics in Salt Lake and I can say that I am looking forward to coming to see them and having a wonderful time in Moscow. Speaking with my friend Elena she told me later that she had not expected Americans to even say hello to a Russian and that was why they were so interested in me because I did not let the past get in the way of a new friendship."

Comment (received 14/07/02): "Couldn,t agree with you more. Moscow has to be one of the safest cities in Europe. I lived there for 3 years, 98 to 01 and the only problem I had was from a drunk yank who kept pinching my girlfriends backside in the Propaganda night club. When I asked him to stop he punched me, but then I had the pleasure of watching the highly effcient bouncers launch him head first through the heavey wooden doors out on to the street. God Bless Russia and Her Bouncers"

Comment (received 15/07/02): "Hi! I've visited St Petersburg twice now and both times I was amazed at the hospitality, humour and general friendliness of the Russian people. This coming September I'll be lucky enough to be starting work in Petersburg for a year. Looking at your site, which incidentally is great, I see that even since I last visited all sorts of new and exciting things are happening. If anyone is visiting this site considering a visit to Russia let me tell you that you must go. It really is an incredibly wonderful place."

Comment (received 8/08/02): "I am Russian American and returned to Russia to live and work, both to learn firsthand my parent language and its people, and also to make innovative improvements and help present a better picture of this great country from the inside out. Many many people are negative about Russia, which is why I write and fight so hard to change these views and present the reality of life in Russia. This website is the best and most honest I have found on the web and I intend to promote at every opportunity I can on my own webpages and in my career writing. I wrote similiar ideas to National Geographic magazine in the March 2002 issue and they published it. All the best to the creator(s)/writer(s) of this website, and everyone who views it with positive thoughts."

Comment (received 18/08/02): "Hey, I am Russian, lived ion Moscow my whole life and the thing you posted about racism is pure bullshit. Russians ARE racist. Moscow is a great place, but it is one of the worst places in the world to be black or anything other then white. If you are white, people will treat you like equal. If you are not, militia will give you shit all the time, people wouldn't be too friendly with you and if you are really unlucky a buncha skinheads will beat the crap outta you. A black American embassy consul was attacked by skinheads two yeas ago. So come as long as you are white."
Answers: I wouldn't agree with that. I also live in Moscow and I personally treat people "other than white" as equal. I also know many people who have black friends or asian friends and I personally didn't hear about any problems. The only time I hear about racism is from newspapers and TV (and recently, through the comments left through this page) and it seems suspicious. I don't understand how you can say that all Russians are racist. I don't know anybody who's racist personally. I just came back from a 1-month trip in Siberia and Buryatia (where there are many Buryat, Russians and Mongolians living together) and NEVER met a person who would be racist. Contrary, I was pleased, very much pleased to see how friendly people live together.
I think that you get what you expect. If you come to a country and you think that the people who live in this country are bad (by default), then I'm 100% sure you'll won't meet anybody nice.

Comment (18/08/02): "I spent five days in Moscow recently staying at the Hotel Belgrad. I found the automobile traffic and pedestrian walking to be a nightmare. You are risking your life when you cross the street. Russian men are drinking open containers of beer in the metro stations which is against the law in the U.S. Foreigners are overcharged at cultural attractions compared to Russian citizens. The women in Russia are the most attractive women in the world."

Comment (received 20/08/02): "I disagree with your comment about Russians not being racists. I teach Russian immigrants in the United States and have heard some of the most vile racist comments out of their mouths. I'm not just talking about old people but young people too. Obviously you have no idea what a racist is."
Answer: I'm amazed how you can generalize so much saying that you disagree that Russians are not racists! Do you want to say that all Russians are racists? You base your knowledge only on some particular personal experiences with some specific people to whom you teach.
I'm not saying that there are no racists in Russia at all. Of course, there are different people and different beliefs. And there are some people who believe in superiority of their race towards the others. But it doesn't mean that you can just put the "racist" tag on the whole nation.
I am sorry if you have to teach something to a bunch of vile racists, and if you don't like it, maybe you could just change your job...

Comment (20/08/02): "A wonderful and very useful page!"
Answer: Mmhh... Thank you! It's very nice to receive comments like this one.

Comment (27/08/02): "Thank you for your site. All the information is relevant and valid. You should be proud of it!
We visit Russia at least once a year and love the country. It is complex and unique! Yes there is what you could call 'rascism' but it's really just the 'unusual' appearance of black people in the sea of whites you otherwise see. Though there are already enough 'Asian appearance Russians' from the Republics around to make looking asian a non-event.
I have never had any Russian not try to help me when asked - though suprise is usually evident when you walk up to talk to a person. Isn't that nowadays true in any large city. Home truths!!
The public toilets everywhere I've travelled in Russia are disgraceful! Something the whole country will need to attend to if it wants to become a tourist destination of the size it deserves to be. I think Russians know this already - just no-one is doing anything!
Think Black people would have as great a risk of being offended in much of the USA or Britain as they will experience in Russia. Though in many areas they will be a novelty. I live in Melbourne, Australia and I will walk in places and times in Cant Peiter that I wouldn't dream of at home.
The tourist rip offs are as bad as anywhere else - in balance - the bargains far outweigh that. If you travel in Russia flaunting your 'superiority' or 'wealth' (both alleged) you will be made uncomfortable. (I hope so!)
And as you say 'babushka's are the conscience of the country. It's wonderful that Russia is now open - for better and worse. I enjoy it's beauty and the differences - otherwise I could stay at home!
Russian women are beautiful generally and well groomed.
Be friendly and open yourself and get to experience what's available to those who are!!
Answer: Thank you for the interesting letter. Just a note about the public toilets for travelers: don't use the ones that are on the streets, but better try to find a restaurant or a cafe -- nobody will mind if you use the toilets there.

Comment (received 10/09/02): I've been to St.Pete's three times and I think it's great!
Sure, some things may be a little run down and old, but nothing serious. The first time I went to my wife's flat, I was a little shocked at the crumbling appearance of the building, but once inside her family's flat things were bright and new! Oh, I noticed many new buildings being built.
The trains can be quite shocking to a spoiled westerner...broken windows, Soviet-era green rust-stained paintjobs, very hard wooden benches(no comfy unholstered seats), and a non-ending succession of salespeople hawking their wares in each car. The first time I rode the train, a man came into the car, opened a case, took out a large kitchen knife, and began yelling at the crowd.
Not knowing Russian, I thought the guy was going to freak and do a "Jason" (Friday 13th, if anybody remembers or cares), but my wife assured me he was just selling knives.
Capitalism is alive and well in Russia...there are an incredible number of small kiosks selling anything you need. I went into a brand new Walmart-style superstore, but everything was overpriced.
And ahhh, the joy of drinking a beer, anywhere anytime! Think you have to wait until you get home to savor a cold one? Naww, just buy a Baltika or six and crack them open on the metro and drink! And if you're a vodka lover, every store seems to have a selection of at least 20 different vodkas...I
thought it was tasteless...why so many brands wonder?
Oh, the metro is like most others...not much fun but gets you from A to B.
It's difficult not to look like a foreigner, but it seems that a black leather jacket and black trousers and shoes might help you fit in(for the guys). Never had a problem with streetcrime, although I'm a fairly big guy. I did hear about an elderly American couple who were accosted by pickpockets... nothing serious though. A baseball cap seems to be a sure way to stick out...didn't notice many at all.
Lots of McCrap restaurants if you like that shit, but I prefer to do my own cooking. Basic food staples are quite cheap comparatively)...dollars will go a long way in Russia.
Russian people are great! Very hospitable(if you know them). Always ready to celebrate anything with a bottle of wine or cognac. Great conversationalists!
Like to have fun! Some can resent foreigners a bit, but usually only the asshole tourists. If you're decent to them and don't brag too much
about your country and certainly don't put down Russia, you'll make friends easily. I don't where our image of the stern, unemotional Russian came from
during the 80's and before, but they're anything but!
I noticed that on buses and metros and any kind of public transport, people are very quiet and don't talk much.
I think a few Russian men resent western men being with Russian women, but I've only experienced it once, and he was completely drunk. "Look, a Russian woman with a foreign man!" Yeah buddy, so what?
All in all, I like Russia and Russians very much! I just wish I could speak the language.

Comment (received 18/09/02): "This is a cool site. Anyway, a comment about Russian MEN this time. My Russian boyfriend is gorgeous, but where is all the rest of the eye-candy in Moscow? Why don't Russian boys take care of themselves? The girls are so pretty, but there doesn't seem to be many pretty boys - very strange. Is it because they're afraid to look nice? I think Russian men can look fantastic (great eyes and bone structure) if they want to, but they don't seem to care. Pity."
Answer: All the rest of the "eye-candy" work on this site.

Comment (received 09/10/02): "I LOVE RUSSIA. I recently returned from teaching English in Moscow for 5 months and I absolutely loved it. I lived with a Russian host family. The Russians that I met there have been some of the most thoughtful, wonderful, and kind people with the biggest hearts that I have ever met. I am fascinated with Russia. This past summer I have taken some Russian language classes, and this January I am planning on returning to Moscow to be a head teacher for the same program. Thanks so much for your site. It is really helpful! RUSSIA RULES!!!!!!!!!!!"

Comment (received 12/10/02): "i love moscow and rusisa i was born there and i have always promoted a vacation or trip to the country. people just have to open their eyes and realize that what you see is not always what you get. it may seem that russia is dangerous just because it is big, but it is sum-what opposite. i love it and i hope that everyone has a chance to go there and enjoy their time there as much as i did."

Comment (received 22/10/02): "Lots of truth there...
But to say russians are not racist is a bit "out of order".
I had milk thrown in my face, verbally assaulted and given the odd Nazi salute by Neo-Nazi's WHO WHERE RUSSIANS!!!
My Russian friend told me several times how she could overhear the racist mumblings on the bus or by passersby because they obviously thought she was English and couldn't understand Russian too I am not saying all Russians are like fact the opposite, it more like anywhere alway's get a little bit of Nazi in every country (the young forget their past and blame everything on foriegners and the old can just be xenophobic) but the Majority of people that you meet are not Neo-Nazi's
The weather bit is not you say russia is a big place and variations do occur...I have been there twice in both winter and summer months, the weather in the winter was on average -14 in Moscow and -30 in ufa...the summers can also be like this, this summer it was about 30 in Kaliningrad 20-25 in Moscow and about 10 in ufa so it depends where you go and the times.
It is a real hassel to get to russia...I agree in part of what you say, but apart from the obvious of what you mentioned, the worry can be more of the issue there...refusing you cos of any little thing they get Paranoid with and then sending it to you when they can be bothered and even then it could be the wrong visa, unclear procedure's that are heavily fined if you dont comply exact...a high percentage of bribery (you mention this yourself) from
anyone in a uniform

Comment (received 22/10/02): Sorry I have a question for you and I wasn't sure of the best place to post here will have to do
I am a black man from England...and have been to russia a few times, many people stare at me...but they still choose to stare at me more than another black man (that is probably African)?
This is probably a wierd question...but can people (white russians) tell the difference between a European black man from a African one?
Answer: Well, it's hard to answer... Normally, Russian people don't see many black people, so I doubt they can really tell the difference... The easiest way for them to know is to hear the language. If a person speaks English, they'll think he's an American (or English), if the language sounds African, they'll think the person is from Africa. I wonder, why are you asking? Just from my own experience, I can always notice if a person is a foreigner or not.

Comment (received 28/10/02): "Ok, this is better than the facts about Russian people that are not true on the page "What is Russia?""
Answer: Wassup? What's wrong with the facts about Russian people ( All we write on this site is the best it can be (except the grammar maybe Wink

Comment (received 29/10/02): "Excellent site. Lots of very useful info. I'm a lithuanian and I will definitely visit Russia some time next year. I know russian language (learnt it back in soviet times) and I still remember my childhood when I was playing with my russian mates. Generally speaking, russians are very hospitable, friendly and probably the most open hearted people I've ever met, but you have to gain their respect first. As someone rightly put in the earlier comment: don't be a snob, don't try to be too cool and don't make people feel as though you are somehow supperior because it looks really bad. If you think you can manage that then your visit to Russia will definitely be one of the best you'll ever make.

Comment (received 10/11/02): "I would like to hear your thoughts on Russian men, in general. I work with a Russian man and he is very, ummm, different in the way he interacts with people. He is quite a mystery and I would love to get inside his head or at least someone from the same country's head! "
Answer: Ohhh, it's a very hard and provoking question. I think that most of the Russian men I meet are absolutely adequate, nice, and interesting people with a unique personality.
However, you may also meet some weird men, who have something very strangely typical among them. I tried to put it into two types: "bear" and "workaholic".
The "bear" is a man that's very much to himself, not too expressive to strangers. Proud. Doesn't look after himself enough. A bit shy. Likes calm life.
However, once he lets himself go (in most cases it is either with friends, or after a shot or two of vodka) he changes most of his patterns to contrary: very open, smily, a bit too much, noisy, tries to get with women.
To get to know such person, you really need to become his friend or spend an evening drinking something strong together.
The "workaholic" type likes everything about western way of life, so in the way he is, he tries to be a "western type". He'll be pleased if you mistake him for a foreigner. He doesn't like Russia too much, so he's thinking about emigrating. He works a lot to achieve a status and to have a lot of $$. He's fast. His girlfriend will be like a piece of his wardrobe to show to his friends and colleagues. Needless to say, his personal life is a wreck. He seems to be open minded, but soon you learn that it is so only within a very narrow "corridor" limited by his business and status interests.
I want to point out that it's just a little fraction of characters you can meet, they came first to my mind, and of course, everybody's different, so please don't adopt any stereotypes!

Comment (received 2/12/02): Great info and it's finally true too......or at least the most part of it. I'm from russia but now i live in USA. Most of my friends are Russian and they are racist agains everyone exept themselves.......Mostly hispanics...and americans too. Russia is a great contry and there is no doubt about it. And the fact that Russians mistreat others at school is bacuz other mistreat them.....i would know, i had that happen to me especially 4 years ago when i just came to america and didn't speak a word of english. But still a GREAT SITE!!!!! "

Comment (received 9/12/02): "I'm from Mexico and I have travelled extensively throughout the world, but Russia has to be one of the most interesting and beautiful places I have ever visited (was in Moscow, St. Peterburg, Kazan and Penza in May 2002). Russia and its people are simply wonderful. It totally overwhelmed me. I will have to come back in January to really experience Russian winter. To my surprise, the food was also excellent. Russia's, culture, architechture, history and scenery are simply too great to miss!"

Comment (received 20/12/02): "Hi, I just wanted to let you know that this site is incredible, you've certainly captured the "big picture" of the whole nation. I truly think that you're analyzation of the country as a whole is incredible and highly accurate to a certain extent. I was recently in St. Petersburg and I think it's an incredible city and I plan on returning next year, although I didn't get to experience much of "real" Russia (more like the tourist-life), I still got a general idea of what it was really like there because I have many family and freinds currently residing all over Russia. Please continue your incredible work, it's so useful!"

Comment (received 28/12/02): "My son has recently married a Russian woman. They travel regularly to Russia on business, and I am fortunate to be able to go with them to St Petersburg in June 2003. I have enjoyed reading the comments on your site, very informative! I see I have much to learn about the country and people, and am reading as fast as I can, and trying to learn a few words of Russian, starting with the Cyrillic alphabet...oh boy! My son tells me that Russia is wonderful, not at all the way it is portrayed in Western media etc. I hope to meet some of my new daughter-in-law's family, and see as much as I can of the country in 10 days. This site is extremely informative. Well done.
P.S. I am a seasoned vodka drinker thing I don't need to study or practice!"

Comment (received 17/01/03): "Heya - I have been travelling for years and using the net even longer than that. I'm about to come to Russia for the first time and found your site while I was doing some research. This has GOT to be one of the most usefull websites I've ever come accross. You rock. Well done! "

Comment (received 9/02/03): " I was last in Moscow in 1998. There was a tornado which did a heck of a lot of damage. I remember thumbing a lift back to my hotel - it was always Ј5 (can't remember it in roubles) but this night the journey took hours crawling along through the fallen trees and smashed up cars - and the fella still wouldn't take any more than Ј5 from me. In London I'd have been skinned!
The only annoyance was some the ex-pat Brits and Yanks - real arseholes!
I thought the locals were friendly, warm and noticeably well-educated compared to people from the west. I was also impressed that they tolerated my appalling attempts at the language.
I'm finally returning this April - Aaargh can't wait! Sorry, almost forgot - nice website, thanks."

Comment (received 11/02/02): "I'm a freelance web developer who grew up in Washington DC, has been to Great Britian, Canada, and Mexico, but not yet to Russia. Recently I have had occassion to work on some global project teams with some very fine folks from Moscow, Kaliningrad, and (somewhere in) Siberia.
I'm 34, and the Russians I work with range from 20 - 35 in age. Mostly male, but a female or two are there as well. I don't chat with the ladies as much, due to language barriers. There is one person on each team who speaks fluent enough english that I end up chatting with them all the time, but I've spoken now to about 6 Russian people on a daily basis for nearly a month.
I LOVE to chat with these people in my instant messanger, and I typically have hated using chat online in the past. We work and enjoy ourselves for hours sharing info about our great nations and cultures and world views. Sometimes though we digress to talk of games, booze, and dirty jokes. Some things are Global in appeal, eh?
In fact, I came here looking for some phrases I could use with them in Russian, to surprise and honor them. It's ridiculous that we Americans usually only speak one language and poorly at that! I look forward to learning more Russian, to augment my high school German, and to someday visit and drink beek in public on a hard train bench with my new friends.
I have to say I didn't even know about the Russian racist stereotype, and I consider myself well read. But what I have learned from my new Russian friends over the past month has been that this is a country experiencing an awakening, it's a very exciting time there, and the young people are seizing life and living it in a way their parents never could have.
Socially graceful, ever accepting, and just flat out fun to chat with. THATS my picture of Russians today! I can't wait to go there and meet them all!
Thanks for your site. I feel just like the guy who told you this site F'n rocks! Cause it DOES! I learned a great deal here, and Will be excitedly sending a few russians your way tomorrow morning, to let them get an external view of themselves. I can't wait to see how amusing they find this site!
Thanks again,
Corky K."
Answer: Thank you. It would be nice to know what your Russian friends think about it. Most of the comments we receive from Russians are like: "What you say about Russians is not true, well, yeah... uhm... actually some things are true, but...."

Comment (received 13/02/03): "I heard Russians worship the Birch Tree and many wouldn't leave the country because they would be leaving their sacred tree."
Answer: Yeah, this is kind of true. I'm a Russian, and I don't worship the Birch tree, but before I traveled, I thought that the Birch grows only in Russia and that it is a "true Russian tree". I'm still surprised when I see it somewhere in Europe, I feel as if I'm in Russia. It's more like a stereotype in people's mind here, I think. Also, birch tree is really an image in Russian literature (especially Esenin).

Comment (received 1/03/03) (excerpts): "[...] This spur of interest (one of my latest) for Russia was triggered strangely enough by a certain "pseudo-lesbian" chart-topping pop sensation from Moscow. I was wondering how you guys feel about that. Although one would assume that "smart student types" such as yourselves would be somewhat indifferent to or even disgusted by such a group.I'd be happy if a group from my country could have such a success abroad. They've put Moscow on the pop map
of the world.So anyway, I was thinking, who the hell knows what's happening over there since the collapse of the Soviet Union (oh yeah, like we knew what's going on during Soviet years).
Few years ago there was a "new" Russian film on TV here (I'm in Croatia by the way-you know one of those cheerful little countries that emerged after the collapse of ex-Yugoslavia,then the war and everything...) The movie shown was "Strana gluhih" ("Land of the deaf"-released 1998), and I really liked it. It was advertised as the "movie of the year In Russia". I don't know whether that's true but adding to the debate on Russian women I remember thinking "Vow! This has got to be the most beautiful girl in the world!"-(Chulpan Khamatova). Anyways where I'm getting at is
that I would love it if you could put up a music and film section to the site, with brief history and mainly concentrated on these last, post-USSR years.[...]
Answer: Thank you very much for your comments. It's true we feel indifferent for this group (Tatu), but surely, it's interesting that they're taking the top places in the European charts. I remember I was surprised when I heard some music news in England and there was this group at the 1st place... They are also very popular in Russia. But I think it is more because they have a good producer, who knows what strings he should pull, rather than music.
In fact, we were thinking about making a guide to Russian music and Russian film guide (we already have Russian literature guide - have you seen it?). The music guide would list a few most popular Russian groups (Tatu, Zemphira, Mumy Troll), ethno musicians (Huun-Huur-Tu - throat singing), Russian jazzmen, and alternative groups (DDT, Chaif).

Comment (received 9/03/03): "Hi, I am a sixth grader doing a report on Russia. Where could i find information about local laws so I can compare them to our laws? Also, where we have local city and county police, CIA and FBI, what does Russia have that compares? Thank you. Calvin"
Answer: You can try either try (click "English version") or
As for the police, there's a Ministry of Internal Affairs ("MVD" in Russian) and they are like head police body. Then there are local police divisions for every region and city. In fact, it's more like CIA, although not exactly. The closest analogue to FBI is FSB ("Federal Security Bureau"), which is former KGB - Commitee of Government Security.

Comment (received 11/03/03): " I am a Russian citizen and I am proud of it! I'd never swap livin' here to livin' in any other country of the world. Yeah, we, Russians, are silly drunkards with no electrisity, shampoo, soap, computers, TV, human rights, money and brains... But, wait a minute, how did you think I've managed to type this message? Listen to me, foreign guys! We are no rasists! We do not drink more alcohol than you do! We speak your English and are always friendly to the tourists. We won the World War II and we will win the war against terrorists. We're the nation of deeds, not of words. We're brave and smart, and we don't have time for bla-bla-bla, that's why somebody consider us dumb. Then explain me, how could we fly to space and envent so many useful things? There are no bears in our streets and people here wear regular clothes. Look at our President and you'll see the common Russian person, the majority of us is the same. That's all I can ay about that... Good luck!"

Comment (received 16/03/03): "Like the comment made on the 1st of March, i got interested in Russia through Tatu. But since January-ish when i got interested, i've been reading all the stuff i can find about Russia, and it's really interesting. I've recently started learning Russian through CD-ROM, and i'd love to go to Russia (but not yet).
(I'm from Wales in the UK). The west has this image of Russia being cold, poor, and misserable, and always drunk. And lets face it, Russia is very cold in the winter compared with western Europe, and Russians have a smaller income per person than Costa Rica, and you'r fond of the odd drink (take russian weddings for example). But these things are blown out of proportion and i'm sure it's a blast there (if you speak the language and have money).
I'm surprised by some of the people not in your 'Famous Russians' list. like, Baryshnikov, Ivan 'The Terrible' Vasiljevich, Nureyev, Prokofiev, Yashin, Rasputin, Karpov, Kasparov.
Anyway, i really like this site, and is jampacked with interesting and useful info. So Thanks! "

Comment (received 23/03/03): " Hello. I live in Russia, and just wanted to say, that you, probably, haven't payed much attention to other Russian citiyes. There are much of cities and towns in Russia: not only Moscow and Peterburg. And they are more different, sometimes even more interesting, than capitals. Maybe you can write about other cities and small towns too?"
Answer: Why, we do pay attention to other Russian cities: there are guides to Golden Ring cities, Novgorod, Siberian cities on our website. Perhaps, you mean that comments on this page tend to represent more Moscow & St. Petersburg, than the whole Russia? I wouldn't agree.

Comment (28/03/03): "Hi,you published my comment on this page in which I sing praises to "russian" beauty of actress Chulpan Khamatova
but little did I know that she is actually ethnic Tatar.
So here is a "myth" for you:Few years back my friend met a Russian girl from Kazan and she was telling him about tensions between Russians and Tatars in Russia.She said that in Kazan there is a strict segregation between the two ethnic groups.She even compared the relationship
between Russians and Tatars in Russia to black/white situation in America. Could you comment on that."
Answer: This is a complete myth and is not true at all. I have a few friends who have been to Kazan, and they even asked people there (out of interest) if there are any tensions. And on numeruous occasions the answer was always "no".

Comment (28/04/03): "Read this article about racism in Russia."
Answer: Well, this is a very sad article. If what is written in this article actually happens, we should find a way of fighting it, drawing attention to it. But in order to do that, an organized action is needed. Please, tell me what you think about it.
I myself have never seen a black person being harassed or beaten or offended on the streets in Russia, really. But I'm not black and maybe I don't see everything that actually may happen.
I would very much like to hear what other black people who live or traveled to Russia think on this issue. Please, could you post your comments on this issue in our Talk Lounge / "Russian Contexts" section - it is quite popular and it will be easier to have a discussion there.

Comment (8/05/03): "I was in Russia for 10 days in March 2003 and this is my unbiased opinion on the topics mentioned above:

MAFIAS: Everyone there agreed that a good part of business was ran "underground". Meaning, mafias. It may also seem suspicious how so many russians in Moscow came to be SO FUCKING RICH. However, you will not have to deal with any mafia people, unless you're trying to open a business there! As a tourist, we never came across any. Don't worry about this. There are more mafias elsewhere and the mafia level is not proportional to the security in the streets. For example, the YAKUSA is the world's largest mafia and it is based in Japan, supposedly a very safe country.

ECONOMY: Central Moscow seems richer than Mayfair. I've never seen so many Mercedez in my life, there are more S500s in Moscow than in Berlin! BMWs, Jaguars... The women are exquisitely dressed up and the luxury is imminent in Tverskaya St. The rest of the city is not that rich, but to say DEVASTATED is unpardonable.
St. Petersburg is not so posh, but Nevsky Prospect seems to have a bustling economy. Plus, why do would you car about the economy if you are just travelling? It should not be a drawback. Peru is venerated by tourists and people are starving here.

DANGERS: When I asked the lady at the reception if the area around the hotel was safe, she laughed, almost indignated. Central Moscow (where you will ussually be because there is not much to see in the suburbs) is VERY
SAFE. Plus, there are policemen EVERYWHERE. The Moscow police is only paralleled by the NYC police and that is a proven fact. I cannot speak for the suburbs, but most of it is residential areas which are tranquile. Perhaps you would like to avoid the metro late at night... I took the metro at 10:30pm and it was very peaceful though, and there were policemen in the station. Plus, YOU DO NOT WANT TO OVERLOOK THE METRO STATIONS.They are lavishly decorated with marble. Ubbelievable. They even have statues inside. And most of them are IMPECABLE, not a trace of graffiti or anything of the kind. The best examples are perhaps ARBATSKAYA St. and BYELORUSKAYA St.

VISA: You will need an INVITATION and around $40. Nothing else. The invitation, if you are travelling with a tour is free. If travelling independently you will need to buy one from some agency. You can buy one from this page, or from lots of other reliable ones. Try yahoo and you will find quite a few. Sometimes your hotel can send you one. If you are travelling to a hostel or youth hostel, you'll have to buy one from them.
The Russian council in Peru is atypical because they asked us for the ORIGINAL version of the invitation. This we had to had sent by FedEx. With this invitation, our passport and $45, we got our visa in 3 days. Not difficult at all. YET, if you are a US or UK citizen, the process is different. I met an American who said visas for them IS a hastle - as is a tourist visa for a Russian to go to the US. Another UK guy said he was denied the russian visa BOTH IN LONDON AND IN AMSTERDAM.
- Registering your visa is no problem at all. It takes about 2 hours and your hotel will do that for you. You see, it sounds difficult, but its just paperwork. ***Some policemen will try to tell you that you need to register your visa in every city you go to. BULLSHIT. That's just an excuse for bribery. They tried to trick us into that like 3 times. We told them politely that we knew the regulations and that "Russian Council in our country said only 1 stamp". They'll know fair amount of english. Do not take it personal, its just underpaid ordinary people.

CATASROPPHEES AND BOMBINGS. It is a fact that Chechen Rebels have carried out a fair number of bombings in Moscow. The theatre hijack last year is another example. I certainly have no idea how you can prevent any of these. I guess its just bad luck. Its not much more of a problem than in Ireland or Spain or the US... just that in big, Russian proportions. Yet there has never been something nearly as striking as September 11th if you want a comparison with the understood civilized-world.

WINTER: It does seem to get dead cold in January or February, around minus 15, minus 20. I was in March though, and neither in Moscow nor St. Petersburg were we lower than minus 2, which is quite bearable. Those astonishing temperatures are ussually recorded at night, while you'll sleeping or partying like a mad-man in some hot disco. St. Petersburg has a warmer cimate for the closeness to the ocean.

RACISM: This is the most delicate issue. Russians are racist, and for this you must blame the diversity of the country. We were so frightened of the Skin Heads that instead of going to a youth hostel in a not so centric area, we went to HOTEL ROSSIYA. (Please, don't go to this hotel, it sucks. It has the less friendly staff I've ever seen and it is a rip-off and urrrrrgh, though if you want a better location try booking a bed in the Kremlin or next to Lenin!). For a good review of the skin-head problem try, the page of a semi-underground newspaper which is the closest to the truth. The skin-head problem is basically teenagers (some as young as 13) who believe the neo-nazi shit of a bunch of grown-ups. Some of the beatings (and even shootings) are done at random metro stations at random hours, but the huge majority are pre-planned massacres on poor immigrant communities and lots of them after football matches. We did not read one single attack on a tourist. I am a white peruvian, but to those skins everything but arian or slav is black.
Our experience in Moscow was totally different however. Everywhere we went there was someone darker, more asian or more arab than us. It is a 5 millions people city, it is damn cosmopolitan!! We never saw any kind of harassment. I don't know what happened. We were expecting hell, really. In fact, the only rude commentary I received was from a stoned black guy at a disco. Neverthleles, Russian metropolies have a problem which foreign embassies have pin-pointed several times, but the russian government dismisss it as hooligans. One article read a declaration from a gov. official saying: "Boys will be boys". What a pity.
Having met no harassment at all in Moscow, we felt very relaxed in St. Petersburg, and we had 10 times more fun.
Nevertheless, policemen are on the look for dark/arab people for the chechen rebel threat, and if you look arab like me, you'll have to loose some minutes showing your passport to officers. Bear this in mind, that if poeple are suspicious of foreigns is because chechens and mid-east rebels have represented a threat to them in the past. The most extraordinary thing was when we went to MetroClub the women at the door noticed we were foreigners and asked where we were from. We said "Peru" and she either understood that, or "Beirut", and said "Oh no, terrorists. Please leave". You must also understand that russian youth dress up for everything like there's no tomorrow and we looked just like we were, backpackers who hadn't worn clean clothes in a week.
However, the last night before leaving for Helsinki, we spoke to latin people at a club, who said they knew people who had had their brains smashed by skins. When we asked them what you could do to prevent a skin-head attack, they just said "its a question of luck".
I guess we had real good luck, then.

DRINKING: Yes, they drink a lot. Does it bother you?? Just tag along and drink, drink and drink. It seems that if you are russian and you want to get from point A to point B, you do it with a beer in your hand. Vodka is getting out of fashion it seems, and beer is quite cheap and its legal to drink it any where you want.
I really hope this was helpful. Head to Russia for the time of your life, but do not expect river-side cafаs or Italy, expect a plush kingdom that lived communism for 74 years and is not experiencing one of the most fierest capitalist economies histories has seen. And the most beautiful women too."
Answer: Thanks a lot! We could make a whole new page out of this comment! Very helpful and interesting.

Comment (10/05/03): "Hi all,
Gratz to all the team of this website looking very pro and intelligent contributor.
It's so great that it help me greatly to me make a round trip in Moscow to meet russian friends, just have to wait this damn visa...
I just miss more information about "bad places" to avoid in Moscow. Yourself said :
"keep away from the "bad" places"...
I open a topic to discuss it in Lounge Forum Index -> Moscow with title "what bad place to avoid in Moscow, especially if look asian "
Because I am French, living in Paris, but looking asian because mummy..."

Comment (14/05/03): " It is nice to get so many different perspectives on one site! I wanted to give credit to Russian men/boys. So maybe they are a little spoiled, but they make wonderful lovers! 4 years ago I met a Russian student at the university I attended . I can say I have never ever been treated so well by anyone. I am an American girl and very much in love with a gorgeous Russian man. I am taking my second trip to Moscow this summer to attend MGU, and of course, to be closer to mine ; ) And about TATU, when I was in Russia the summer of 2001 I started liking them so much that I brought back the cd with me. I could have been swayed by the fact that they were on the radio 3 times and hour, but I still think they deserve props."

Comment (21/05/03): "Russia is "a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma"
Winston Churchill"

Comment (10/06/03): "Great & varied website. You give a good flavour of what Russia is like.
I have some personal experiences from visiting Russia and would like to add to the discussions on this page.
I am Scottish and have been to Russia four times. The first time I travelled from Moscow to Beijing with a three day stop in Irkutsk (July 1999). The train was a fabulous experience, I would like to do it again in winter. During my visit to Irkutsk, I had a city tour during which I was the only tourist. Initially I was teased by the tourist guide for travelling on my own. To cut a long story short and after much travelling back & forth, we got married and have just had our first child here in Glasgow. Anyway, enough the personal stuff. Here are some of my experiences
I have seen two incidents.
1) While walking in the Arbat, there was a fight between some young guys. One was being beaten up by a group of others. People were looking on in disgust, there were no police about. Then one older well-built guy in a telnyashka saw what was going on and single handedly started fighting all the attacking group, this guy's intention seemed to be to give the guys a taste of their own medicine. They all offered no resistance, it was amazing to see.
The second incident was in Irkutsk, Natasha & I were the only customers in a pub early one evening. Suddenly about six men entered with balaclavas and automatic weapons. There was no indication if they were police or mafia. Natasha cooly led me to the door and we were let out. She thought they were police checking for illegal workers.
Having said all of the above, I usually feel safe in Russia. It is certainly no worse than many cities in Europe.
I have no experience of any racism in Russia. I think like most countries a small minority can grab a lot of headlines and distort the truth. For example, I dont think Scotland is a racist country but there have been a number of well-publicised racist incidents. Is Russia any better or worse? Who knows?
MY father-in-law treated me to a sauna at the dacha last year. It was 110 Centigrade complete with beriozka twigs for the skin. A hat was necessary if you wanted to stand up (the water seemed to boil from your head if you did). By god, it felt wonderful when you came out.
As most people who have visited Russia may agree, the food that you receive at a Russian home is likely to be much better that any restaurant. My mother-in-law says she spends 70 % of her salary on food. Yet they have a dacha and two cars ('it is the Russian way to manage this'). They dislike very much the stereotypical New Russians, I dont know enough to comment but they are good and honest people. I do like your comment that the babooshkas are the soul of Russia.
Certainly if anyone is travelling on the train, buy food from the babooshkas at the stations. If you dont speak russian, just pick the food you want and give the woman some money, you will not be ripped off.
I applaud that you are trying to give a balanced view of Russia. There is certainly a lot of bad press in the West. I beleive this is a legacy of the Cold War. I personally have no problem going back there time and time again and would encourage people who are thinking of visiting to do it. It may be difficult and frustrating at times but most of the time you will be entertained and learn a different way of life.
Good luck with this site."

Comment (10/06/03): "I have immensely enjoyed reading your website. I do have a few cultural questions. I am male, and am involved in a homosexual relationship with a male Russian (and who said Russian men weren't hot??). How do average Russians view homosexuality? My partner assures me that when we visit, we won't have any problems. I am still a bit apprehensive. What are your thoughts on this?"
Answer: Your partner is right saying that you won't have any problems. Majority of people, especially younger generation and people who live in big cities don't have anything against homosexuality (at least, it looks like it). You may have problems if you are overtly expressing your relationship in front of old people, or in small towns or villages, or just in front of drunk or bully people who just need troubles to find. Mostly, it has to do with the fact that Russian society is still quite conservative, but it's changing fast.
Besides, there's quite a good gay scene in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Comment (25/06/03): "To the guy who had problems with traffic (dangerous): try walking under the street where pedestrians are supposed to go...Or you will get killed. Have you ever walked across I5 in downtown Los Angeles at rush hour? By the way, my experience in Moscow was great without any threat of violence, or any racism. I am still with my wife who I met there. "

Comment (1/7/03): "what about the KGB do you need to worry about them are they friendly?" and "Is it true about the KGB being really hardcore people like highly trained fighters and such...the kind of people you would NEVER want to mess with?"
Answer: Ok, we have your IP address logged and will report it to KGB...
Seriously, you don't have to worry about KGB guys (now it's called FSB, by the way). As a tourist, you won't ever have to deal with them, unless you are a spy or having a business in Russia that is important for national interests... The guys are doing exactly what they are supposed to do: federal security bureau. But yes, KGB are hardcore and intelligent.

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Eye of Providence
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Re: Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby Beholder » 30 Jan 2009, 12:54

Comment (7/7/03): "I have been to Moscow a few weeks ago, liked it enough, that now I am trying to move back there from New York of all places. I understand that the infrustructure and services there may not be up to the par with US standards that I've so gotten used to after 10 years in US, but after all I am Russian and can put up with that."

Comment (29/7/03): "I wish to visit Russia this september and I would like to know how much, in a budget way, would I spend for two weeks, including Hostels, food, etc.
There will be good music and/or art festivals at september?
There are different fares at Trans-siberian rail? Which is the cheapest?"
Answer: If you are ok with the most budget options (like living in a dorm hostel room, cooking by yourself, and not spending too much on parties, I would count about $25 US per day, plus transportation, which is $300 for a return flight to moscow from europe and about $70-$200 for one-way trans-siberian to Irkutsk.
As for music / art festivals, there's an Art Festival Art-Klyazma on 5, 6 September, then there's a night contemporary art tour by bus on the night from 19 to 20 September starting from Architecture museum (showing you all contemporary galleries in moscow, starts at 22.00, metro Arbatskaya), and then there's Blur playing on 24th September in Gorbushka (metro Bagrationovskaya), also visit Private Collections Museum (which is near Pushkinsky museum, metro Kropotkinskaya). There are a lot of other interesting events.

Comments (30/7/03): "Russia is gradually emerging and I hope one day many those who immigrated from USSR will go back to Russia especially from USA(if russian goverment accepts them), because many thought the the USA was the best country in the world. But in reality it's total bullshit(food, television, culture, traditions, people), the worst one in Western world. It's never been and never will be. "
Answer: Yeah, Russia is becoming the new hotspot Wink

Comment (20/08/03): "I am going to Moscow for the first time next week and very much looking forward to it. However, the real purpose of this post is to lavish praise on this website....INCREDIBLE! It has enough information to put every guidebook out of business. Your efforts are really appreciated, believe me."
Answer: Ok, will be done, get ready, Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Eyewitness and others... WayToRussia.Net is coming!!! By the way, there's a vote in our Talk Lounge forum, the question is whether or not you would donate some amount to if you were given an opportunity... You can vote here.

Questions (1/9/03): " I feel the accidental visit to your website was rewarding. Even though it said more about Moscow and St. Petersburgh, it was enough to have a broken view of Russia. I am an Indian student who is about to undertake a medical course (6 years) in Volgograd. I would been happy to know your view on some of the following queries.
1) Is it true that in order to be safe, you have to stay away from the Russian girls in the campus/Elsewhere?
2) Learning that there is a bit of Racism, will it subside as years go by?
3) How advanced is Volgograd? Does it have discos or pubs?
4) Is it safe for the Indians to go to the Discos or pubs?
5) In student life will the Russian students accept the Indian students as friends?
However I think with a bit of adjustment everything will be right .I would really count on your opinion considering the reputation of your website
Thank you "
1) No, you should enjoy them.
2) Russians don't like Chechenians only (unfortunately), because of the war and stuff. I hope it will subside soon... Otherwise, there are no specific "nationality preferences". Besides, as I was told by an old Indian man in Himalayas (next to the holy Ganges source): "India and Russia are big friends". And I really think so!
I would just recommend something. There are still many people with prejudices, especially when they see dark skin color, they have an automated reflex and start thinkning about Chechenians. Just try not to meet such people and evade all kind of communication. If anybody bullies or offends you act as if nothing is happening, don't get involved, it's safer.
3) Never been there, sorry. But heard there are some bars and discos, however don't hope for anything extra good, just standard dance music and a lot of wanna-be-cool guys with girlfriends.
4) Depends which. Stay away from the ones I said about above.
5) Yes, young people are open. Look, I was driving next to Patris Lulumba university in moscow a few days ago -- that's the place where there are many students from India, Africa etc. And I was amazed how peaceful and nice it looked, and there are people of different origins, they all walked together, mixed, laughed, had nice time.... So, it's gonna be ok.

Comments (3/09/03): "I love Moscow but to call it safe, I hardly think so. For young women it is unsafe to be alone, both during the day and especially at night. I have visited twice and both times I have had incidents, maybe I am unlucky, or just naive. I just advise single women to keep there head down and don't talk to anyone. unlucky American girl"
Answer: I'm sorry, but if you act like you advise, you will look like a victim and attract problems like bees. Keep your head up, be open-minded, city-wise and careful -- something useful in any city, not only Moscow.

Comment (19/09/03): "I am sorry to get back to so many issues. First, I give my props to the site. Excellent job. I will definitely use the services because I have clients in Russia and am there all the time.
People. Come on with the racism crap! Don't try to inject your understanding of racism into what is going on in Russia. Fellow Americans, you know better than I that all that phony political corectness destroys the fabric of our society. I pray to God we all were not turned into politicians. Moreover with all due love, behind the back you, liberals and conservatives, are sickeningly racist. Russians are just too blatant and honest, but they say outloud what you say in your bedrooms. I just want to see your daughters give birth to a black child. The Russian society is one of great extremes and it has not been exposed to the outside world to the same degree. Everything will come to its places in due time and Russians will be exposed to the minorities and cultures. Intolerance is a feature of poor countries. Tolerance is luxury that, believe me, will be discarded by you if your way of living is endangered. On the other hand, I can tell with great certitude that Russians would never enslave people for financial profit. Russians as a people are incapable of denying freedom to stuff their wallets, to gas people because these people are perceived "inferior." Russians are honest, crude, but incredibly like children dedicated to the betterment of the world. They are very naive and romantic, although they pretend being very tough and knowlegeable. They are a nation of children with everything that is good and bad about it: crudeness, brutal honesty, openness, unjustified belief in human goodness, purity of heart, leaving evertyhing to chance ("avos' "); they are so so unpragmatic and uncalculated, yet prone to corruption, attracted to "shiny things" and silly ideals. I love Russian people for all of that, for their unspoiled openness and unqualified loyalty and sacrifice that they are capable of. I can not but invite you to see this society, this melting pot of phenomenal extremes and feel the pain and the poetry of its people. Don't ever apply your prejudices, phobias concepts of racism, good, evil to a culture you know nothing about. It's simply ignorant and, of course, RACIST."
Answer: I love this comment! I think it will be interesting for you (and all others!) to read our new Russian People section.

Comment (3/10/03): "I will be traveling extensively this winter and I wasn't sure if I wanted to include Russia in my travels.After reading this website, I am definitely going. Good mix of positive and negative aspects of the country here which makes it very credible. Thanks! "

Comment (12/10/03): "Just a simple question: what is a "dreamhouse" for a Russian? I'm an architect and I'd like to know which are your desires in the way of living."
Answer: You should definitely post this question in our Russian People section. I think that mostly it's important for Russian people to have all the facilities (like hot water, heating, electricity, telephone) work really well, live in a kind of cottage but not too far from a city, have a few rooms, spacious living room, fancy furniture, maybe a garden outside, but it's not too important. And Russians like to have things like American pool and fitness equipment in their house, so a spacious room for activities would also be great.

Comment (17/10/03): "In order for your account of Russian history to be credible, I would encourage you to acknowledge that there was much persecution of the Jews in Russia in the 1800's, during the pogroms. By discussing this openly and giving it some historical context, you would build a connection to Jews around the world whose ancestors fled Russia during this time, and who might be interested in visiting the towns from which they came. I certainly would feel more invited if you acknowledged that this happened!"

Comment (28/10/03): "Russia is the best country of the world! If somebody is not sure, it's his own problems, because it is so!"

Comment (22/12/03): "I've always been really interested in russian culture, litterature, traditions etc. so a few years ago, after I finished college, I chose to begin Russian Studies at the university of Ottawa. The more I studied it, the more I loved that wonderful country so I naturally wanted to go there. However, when I told this to my family and friends, who are all, as far as I know, educated and comprehensive people, they completely freaked out. They all warned me not to go there and they kept saying that it was an incredibly dangerous place, especially for foreigners and women, since the mafia is everywhere and all russian men are rapists. I was very shocked to hear such stupid things from people I loved but I also could not bring myself to believe that they were entirely wrong. I looked for information everywhere I could and to my surprise, it confirmed what they said so I eventually let go of my life long dream. At that point of my life I felt very depressed and I kept thinking that I had thrown away years on something that I could never fully experience. Then one day, somebody told me about your site. I had very little hope left, but I came anyway and it changed my life. It was serious and realist but positive all the same! And there were so many good comments about russian and american people who thought you had got the right picture! I am now happily preparing a trip to moscow and that's all thanks to you. There is a lot of people in Europe and America who are fascinated by Russia but meanwhile the medias are encouraging stereotypes. Open-minded people like you make a difference. I cannot thank you enough. I also have a question : is it true thet life is very expensive in Moscow?"
Answer: Thank you very very much. I was very happy to read this message, I really hope you'll have nice time in Moscow.
Life in Moscow is not too expensive, but not too cheap. You can look at the average prices at Practicalities / Money section, but I can say that it's possible to live for $200 per month OK, without accommodation and clothes though. Also, I've just launched a new project for those, who want to find a room mate in Russia - you can use it to find a home-stay and to save money on accommodation too - it's FlatMates.Ru

Comment (31/12/03): "I read with great interest the wide variety of comments posted here. It would be fair to say that there is a bit of truth in all of them, yet there is no way anyone can paint a perfect picture of Russia in all its richness and glory with mere words. I can draw a parallel with trying to explain what sugar is to someone who has never experienced it. You can go on and on about it all day but still wouldnt be able to explain it as well as just giving them a spoonful to taste. Russia must be tasted to really understand it. I was lucky to have spent 7 of the best years of my life there as a student. I lived in Moscow but also went around enough to experience village and small town life, mingled with the youth, the businessmen, the medical professionals, diplomats, politicians, mafiosi, babushki and dedushki, orphaned street kids,policemen, armymen, cosmonauts...just about every layer of society. I have also lived in several countries long enough to appreciate the difference in Russian culture when compared to the Indian, Arabic and American ones. It wouldnt be wrong to say that Russia has found a special place in my heart. Though Indian by birth, the years in Russia have impacted every facet of my life so much that I consider myself to be part Russian in spirit. Russia has a way of growing on you. I speak the language pretty fluently and love my black bread and vodka. My New Years feast will be a typical Russian fare this year. I guess you should figure out from my enthusiasm for all things Russian that I love the country and its people very much. If Russia were such a poor devestated country filled with drunks and racists, I would hardly have felt the way I do. Believe me when I tell you that while there is much room for improvement and much to be fixed, there is also much much more that is right. Russians are friendly, forthright(without the kind of social mask that we see so much of here in the US, extremely hospitable and generous, fair-minded, honest,tough with an indominable spirit. If you saw the vastness of Russia and its wide open spaces and natural beauty, you would understand where the Russian spirit draws its strength from. The Russian psyche may be an enigma to many, but that is only because they never took the time to try to understand it. Sure there are some fringe elements- neo-nazis, who dont understand the absurd irony of their actions, but on the whole Russia is not any more or less racist than any other country...including India, the US or UK, the Arabic or African countries. So please lay off from badmouthing the Russians. They deserve better."

Comment (10/02/04): "I am a Northern Californian of Filipino descent who traveled to Russia (Petersburg and Kazan) last month.
Myth: COLD WINTER? Chicago and Boston on a wet winter storm felt much colder.
Myth: DANGEROUS? I felt more danger in the residential areas of Paris.
Myth: TRAVELING A HASSLE? Travel is more difficult in the US. I did not have any problems (other than trying to purchase a plane ticket to Kazan from Petersburg) traveling into and within Russia. But JFK airport was a nightmare! As well as traveling to and from LAX. Long lines, paranoia, and a security state in Russia? Guess what, this is post-9/11 US, not today's Russia.
Myth: RACISM? Seems like the same all over the world. Cosmopolitan cities like Moscow, Petersburg, San Francisco, and New York are more accepting of other races and foreigners than small towns.
Myth: BOMBINGS AND VIOLENCE? Not much different than 9/11 in New York and the LA race riots.
Myth: POOR COUNTRY? I saw some of the best works for art in the Hermitage and the most beautiful metros. Everyone has a mobile phone AND clear reception everywhere unlike California.

And the myth that motivated me to come to Russia, other than my intellectual curiousity: THE WOMEN. Yes, many of the women I saw, young and middle aged, were beautiful! The club scene was fun, young gorgeous women! But they certainly were more interested in partying. Got many friendly smiles but saw no motivation to overcome the language barrier. For dating, it's more fun to go where you speak the language. But if you are looking for a life partner, I found a gorgeous, intelligent, kind, humble and caring woman who can cook the best food! And with flights costing $500 round trip, nice flats for less than $100/night, good food for $5 or less, friendly people, and was not required to walk nearly naked through every airport security gate, it was a great vacation for someone from the beautiful but insanely expensive San Francisco Bay Area! "

Comment (24/02/04): "I'm really interested in russian culture, litterature, traditions etc.And sometimes I think to be alone to have this love of all from Russia. On my point of view, people from western countries use to have a negative and narrow-minded attitude. Because the propaganda conveyed by the mass-media are mistakes and a policy in order not to see one more time Russia as a powerful country. It's true Russia has a lot of problems to solve because of its "communism" past.That's right you can see in Russia a wide social gap between rich and poor. But on the other hand cos of the revival of the economy the life ther is better and better. It seems to be slow because to make laws and to change one society is long ; Russia is about 145 millions of inhabitants (5millions in Petersburg and 9 millions in Moscow).
About alcoholism, I think Russians are not more than other countries. So it's a shame when you read in a French encyclopedia : The majority of russian are alcoholic that's why nearly 70% of children born have brain problems... this analysis is nearly racist and that writer forgot that liquor in Russian litterature exist since a lot of centuries, and instead of alcohol Russians have a lot of great writers, composers, scientists,...
In term of racism, when I went to Russia a couple of year ago with my boyfriend (a black guy) maybe we were lucky but russians were kind, helpful, a great sense of the hospitality. So I don't think they are racist. They may be curious because black people are uncommon there. Militia sometimes ask him to verify his passport (me not because I look like a standard russian maybe) but they weren't agressive. I can prove also that Russian are not racist because one of the famous and adored russian writer Pushkin is a half-blood man (his grandfather was ethiopian and also a general in the Peter the Great's army). And nowadays, you have only to switch on the TV to see black russians or black foreigners (look at the TV show you will see). You can see also young students from Afrika in the former Lumumba University..."

Comment (7/3/04): "I came across this site by complete accident, and am glad to have done so, this site is awsome!! truly great job guys,
and about Moscow being dangerous, im 19, live in the North East of England, and where i live is ALOT more dangerous AND racist, Moscow was a great place, loved it, and the Russian people were really nice, and dont get me started on the women!!
as for your question on British people drinking beer all the time, the sad truth is, yes, most do drink WAY too much beer
thanks again for the great site, well done"
Answer: Hi mate, it's great you loved Moscow. As for your comment about England being a dangerous place, I have a story. When I was 14 I went to England for some kind of English language practice program. I lived in Broadstairs, which is near Ramsgate, in South-East. So, I was there and I thought because I come from Russia (and I had this belief that Russia was a dangerous place - it was beginning of 90s), so, I thought in England I don't have to be afraid of anything, because Russia is rough and England is mild. But after a while I had a chance to meet a few rough guys (even in 14) who wanted to take my money in a city park there and were threatening me with metal sticks (I walked away), another time, in Edinburgh, there were two skinheads who told us something not nice, and when we wanted to "teach" them that they should be nice to strangers, they took out their knives and looked very eager for action, so me and my friend retreated. After this, I never thought anymore that I was cool, because Russia is so rough, and I also thought that England is quite a rough place as well.
By the way, could you tell me what was this accident that brought you to the site?
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby Sam » 19 Feb 2009, 05:54

Its so long a list , Read some main points only !!!
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby Jaikin » 03 Feb 2010, 11:42

Well, speaking of Russian women and the various characterisations above. No doubt there are many stereotypes out there, some of it justified like in the case of women (or men) from almost any country in the world. All I know is that have found the perfect woman as far as I'm concerned. Confident enough about it that I've stopped looking. And she is short, sweet, sensual, sexy, sensible, sane, sagacious, striving and sensationally surefooted about life....and in case u guys are wondering, yes she is.... And I missed it, her name is (right, she made me censor that)... Sound like a smitten sop do I? Well, there's a Russian woman for you - A glorious representative of the human female, by any measure of judgement.
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby maribro » 03 Feb 2010, 14:27

I am curious if you are the same enthusiastic abt the same woman in a few years. I wish you both well :)

One of the myths that non-russian men choose to nurture is that Russian women are soft and flexible by character, unambitious, ever-ready-to-serve and do not demand much. In other words, a very user-friendly low-budget investment opportunity to use. You better be warned that it's a pure myth.

I would say (without generalising, there are some origin-related features they share) that Russian women are strong enough to face difficulties without moaning; as probably most of Russian people, they [women] are good at taking hardships with humour and are able to thrive without much comfort provided. Another noted thing abot typical Russian women is - no matter how difficult life is, they care to remain feminine and possibly good looking.
BUT as any other human being, a Russian woman wants to be appreciated. Bear that in mind! The moment you let her feel that she is being taken for granted, she turns into a hard cookie to deal with.

In other words, to avoid disappointments: if all you are looking in a Russian woman is her comfotable-for-you all-forgiving soft nature (which might be true indeed), if this is the only reason why you choose a Russian to be your woman - know that this may turn to be your bitter pill to swallow. Russian women know their pride and their strength.

...and those who truly value and love such a woman - get to see her much talked about "all-forgiving soft nature" etc., her lifelong support, love, care and all that the The Russian Woman Myth advertises.

;) hope you'll know the best side of it.
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby Jaikin » 03 Feb 2010, 19:07

Maribro, I guess your post was directed at me. Thanks for your kind wishes for our relationship. I have a near absolute certainty that it will endure. And that's as good as it gets. Now let me address your comments, one by one.

>>One of the myths that non-russian men choose to nurture is that Russian women are soft and flexible by character, unambitious, ever-ready-to-serve and do not demand much. In other words, a very user-friendly low-budget investment opportunity to use. You better be warned that it's a pure myth.

Hmmm... Maribro, is it possible that, just as you suggest that non-Russian men have a stereotypic impression of Russian women, you may be holding a stereotypic image of non-Russian men? Certainly, I have never held this view of Russian women. “Soft and flexible by character, unambitious”? Russian women? Russia is what it is in equal measure because of its women, and no one would accuse the country of being “soft and flexible”. User-friendly? I would say yes, and that’s not a bad thing by any means. Women from any country in the world could take a lesson or two from Russian women in being user-friendly. “Low-budget investment opportunity to use”? I am aware that such stereotypes exist, but I would applaud from the sidelines if any Russian woman provided a harsh lesson to the contrary to any non-Russian man who held such a view. I hope you are not suggesting that I myself hold such a view. I agree with you that such perceptions are pure myth.

>>I would say (without generalising, there are some origin-related features they share).... possibly good looking.

Who would disagree with that? And that is exactly why any non-Russian who comes into contact with a Russian woman is enchanted by the all-round capabilities and near “super-woman” stature – from my observations, they are dedicated and involved mothers (very much so), a home-body when required without being “feminist” about it, and an independent woman when required (again without being “feminist” about it), and a party animal when possible. And almost without exception well acquainted with literature and the arts, at least to some extent, reasonably knowledgeable about the world, and cultured. Of course, this is a stereotype of sorts. But I will plead guilty of perpetrating this positive stereotype. Are there no negative examples of Russian women. Of course there are, but this is true of any woman from any country in the world.

>BUT as any other human being, a Russian woman wants to be appreciated. Bear that in mind! The moment you let her feel that she is being taken for granted, she turns into a hard cookie to deal with.

Which woman doesn’t? It is up to the man to be decent about this. Provided she is understanding and appreciative too. It never is a one-way street in these matters.

>>In other words, to avoid disappointments: if all you are looking in a Russian woman is her comfotable-for-you all-forgiving soft nature (which might be true indeed), if this is the only reason why you choose a Russian to be your woman - know that this may turn to be your bitter pill to swallow. Russian women know their pride and their strength.

That is a rather one-dimensional perspective and does not account for the possibility of decent men. While there are many despicable men around, there are equally despicable women too – of Russian and other world nationalities. It is rare that a woman is chosen, by any man, only for one quality (say comfortable, soft, all-forgiving nature). It is a combination of qualities, and this particular one is sort of the framework that holds it all together and in fact gives the Russian woman her strength, in my opinion. In the ability to forgive and be gentle, lies the ability to renew. Of course I could be wrong. No one, of course, would argue that Russian women know their pride and their strength, and so they should.

>>...and those who truly value and love such a woman - get to see her much talked about "all-forgiving soft nature" etc., her lifelong support, love, care and all that the The Russian Woman Myth advertises.

And that is what I’m hoping for really. I have been trying to show that I “truly value and love”. I hope that, as a result, I’ll know the best side of it. So far I’m convinced it’s not a myth.
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby blabladin » 27 Oct 2010, 10:13

Advice to you new possibility: Debit cards for travel. It's special card, you can use it in different country and it's very easy and comfortable. Show information on site, and buy it!
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby AlexDeLarge » 08 Feb 2011, 15:10

At last someone adequate)
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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby novanitto » 26 Mar 2011, 23:34

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Myths and Truth about Russia

Postby alanh » 07 Apr 2011, 14:26

Can anyone help me please I'm trying to find someone interested in network marketing in Russia?
Many thanks,
Alan Hill UK.
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