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I4M Country profile russia (in english)


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The document was created for the Project Info4migrants. Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615

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I4M Country profile russia (in english)

  1. 1. 1 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy Info4Migrants RUSSIACountry profile Project number: UK/13/LLP-LdV/TOI-615
  2. 2. 2 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy 17,098,242km2 143,8mln POPULATION GDPper capita CURRENCY $18,403 Languages RUSSIAN and 27 other recognized languages Russian rouble Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy www.thelanguagemenu.com2 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  3. 3. 3 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy COUNTRY BACKGROUND Russia, also officially known as the Russian Federation, is a feder- al semi-presidential republic. Russia is the largest country in the world, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area. Russia is also the world’s ninth most populous nation with 143 million people as of 2012. The nation’s history be- gan with that of the East Slavs, who emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. In 988, the country adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. The Rus- sian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Soviet Union, which played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II. The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world’s first human-made satellite, and the first man in space. Following the dissolution of the So- viet Union in 1991, the Russian SFSR reconstituted itself as the Russian Federation and is recognized as the continuing legal personality of the Union state. Russia’s extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the world, have made it one of the largest producers of oil and natural gas globally. National Flag Coat of arms Russian FederationMoscow Russian Federation
  4. 4. 4 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy RUSSIA FACTS Language Russia’s official language is Russian and it is most commonly spoken in business, government, and education. Ethnic Rus- sians speak their native tongue almost exclusively. There are 27 other ‘co-official’ languages in various oblasts or regions. At the time of the 1989 census only 4.1% of ethnic Russians in the Soviet Union could speak one of the nation’s other languages, while people belonging to most other ethnic groups were bilingual.More than 100 languages are spoken in Russia. Some of the ethnic republics have declared official regional languages, but millions of non-Russians have adopt- ed Russian as their mother tongue. While the Soviet govern- ment’s educational policies ensured widespread use of the Russian language, it also assisted many smaller ethnic groups in developing their own alphabets and vocabularies. Climate and weather Russia is a huge country and the climate ranges from tem- perate to Arctic continental. The weather has a significant influence on the national psyche. Russians manage their lives in response to the extremes of summer, which can be oppressively hot, and long cold winters, which encourage long periods of enforced idleness and deep self-reflection. The latitude influences the weather in winter, which varies from short, cold spells along the Black Sea to months of snow and ice on the ground in Siberia. Much of the far north is tundra, with sub-arctic temperatures year-round. Sum- mer conditions vary from warm and humid on the steppes to cool along the Arctic coast. Much of Russia is covered by snow six months of the year, and the weather is usually harsh and unpredictable. The average winter temperature in Yakutsk, Siberia is a chilling-43C. These bitter winters affect every aspect of life, from transport to healthcare. There is no year-round growing season anywhere in Russia, which is why so much pickled and smoked food is eaten. 4 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  5. 5. 5 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy RUSSIA FACTS Negotiations Russians see negotiations as win-lose. They do not be- lieve in win-win scenarios. They negotiate as they play chess, planning several moves ahead. You should think of the consequences of each move before making it. They maintain discipline in the meeting and speak with one voice. If your team has several ‘voices’, the Russians will become confused about who has real authority. They will usually ask the other side to speak first, so they may reflect on the position given. Traffic Traffic jams are frequent and prolonged, particularly in winter. In Russia it is said that ‘every car is a taxi’. Rus- sians are frequently seen on the sidewalks stopping cars and negotiating lifts. If you know the city well, this prac- tice is a very-cost effective way of travelling, however, as a foreign visitor you should not attempt this if you do not speak basic Russian, or are not accompanied by a Rus- sian. At the table Russians love conversation around a table, and are fond of soul-searching. Within minutes, a conversation can turn to the meaning of life and philosophy. They like praising especially Russian advances of technology, but also their considerable artistic achievements. They pre- fer to drink sitting down and take their time, to make frequent toasts and short speeches. They are sensitive about war talk, considering most Russian wars as defen- sive ones against aggressive neighbours. They love chil- dren; exchange of photographs of children is an excellent way to build bridges. Country profile RUSSIA5 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  6. 6. 6 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy 1-5 January: New Year’s Holidays In addition to New Year’s Day on 1 January, 2–5 January are public holidays as well. 7 January: Christmas Day Christmas in Russia is a pub- lic holiday according to the Julian calendar used by the Russian Orthodox Church. The public holiday was re-es- tablished in 1991, following the decades of suppression of religion and state atheism of the Soviet Union. Christmas on 25 December is celebrated in Russia by the Roman Cath- olic and various Protestant churches, but it is not a public holiday. 23 February: Defender of the Fatherland Day It is a day of the Armed Forc- es of the Russian Federation. 8 March: International Women’s Day On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Rus- sian women observed their first International Women’s Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 Inter- national Women’s Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Women’s Day ever since. 1 May: Spring and Labour Day In the former Soviet Union, 1 May was International Work- ers’ Day, celebrated with huge parades in big cities. Though the celebrations are low-key nowadays, several groups march on that day to protest grievances the work- ers have. 9 May: Victory Day Commemorates the day Russia celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany, while re- membering those who died in order to achieve it and paying tribute to survivors and vet- erans. A big military parade, hosted by the President of the Russian Federation, is an- nually organized in Moscow on the Red Square. Similar parades are organized in all major Russian cities. June 12: Russia Day On this day, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty from the USSR. 4 November: Unity Day First celebrated on 4 No- vember, 2005, this day commemorates the popular uprising led by Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky, eject- ing the Polish invaders from Moscow in November 1612, and more generally the end of the Time of Troubles and foreign intervention in Russia. Most observers view this as an attempted replacement to counter Communist demon- strations on the holiday of 7 November, which marked the anniversary of the October Revolution. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
  7. 7. 7 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy RUSSIA FACTS Business lunch and dinner If your Russian contacts invite you out to a restaurant, expect lavish treatment. Din- ner is more likely than lunch. Spouses are generally not included on these occasions, although they are often invited to gatherings in homes. The centre seats at a table tend to be re- served for the most senior officials, while you should be seated oppo- site your Russian counterparts. When it comes to the meal itself, begin eating only after somebody gives a toast, even if there is no alcohol on the table (unlikely). Toast- ing is a very important part of dining. There are international restaurants all over Moscow and St Petersburg, although your hosts may choose a Russian restaurant in which to entertain. Cured herring, caviar and smoked salmon on blinis will help soak up the vodka at the beginning of the meal. Otherwise, Russian cuisine relies heavily on cabbage, potato and beetroot; borscht (beetroot soup) is probably the best-known dish. Milk, cream and cheese are also big, as are rye flour, dried peas and beans. Fish and sausages are often dried or smoked. Main courses are generally hearty and heavy, with potato dumplings often accompanying meat dishes. Pelmeni are Siberian dumplings, made with potato and stuffed with spiced pork. Golubtsy are cabbage leaves stuffed with chopped pork and vegetables. Perepeulka are quail, and are often pan-fried and then baked with mush- rooms, spices and stock. Drinking The most important thing to bear in mind is that Russia has a serious drinking cul- ture. Refusing to drink is unacceptable unless you have a plausible excuse – health or religious reasons are usually the least questioned. Smiling and at least pretend- ing to drink for the frequent toasts shows your respect for those around you. 7 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  8. 8. 8 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy IMPORTANT TIPS You Need to Know What «Тапочки» Is Тапочки are a pair of slippers. One slip- per is один тапочек [TA-pa-cheyk], два тапочка [DVA TA-pach-ka] two slippers, and slippers are тапочки [TA-pach-kee]. Why do you need to know this? Because when you are invited to a Russian home (which is usually a tiny apartment with freshly swept and cleaned floors cov- ered with rugs and runner rugs) you will be expected to take your shoes off and might be offered a pair of тапочки. Of course, you can bring your own pair of тапочки with you. If you are invit- ed for a celebration or a dinner party at someone’s home, you might notice women wearing fancy high heeled shoes that they brought with them, but it’s highly unlikely that you see anyone wearing their dirty boots inside. Especially for Women Women are initially regarded with scep- ticism and may have to prove them- selves. Before you visit, have a mutually respected colleague send a letter intro- ducing you. Your business cards should clearly state your title and academic de- gree. If you establish your position and ability immediately, you will encounter far fewer problems. Be feminine. Allow men to open doors, light cigarettes, etc. Even if you think such customs are old-fashioned or silly, respect the cultural background of your Russian colleagues. Foreign businesswomen can use their femininity to their advantage. For fear of not appearing a gentleman, many Russian businessmen may allow foreign businesswomen to get away with some things (requests for meetings, favors, etc.) that foreign businessmen aren’t allowed. A woman can invite a Russian business- man to lunch and pay the bill, although it might be interpreted by some men as an invitation to flirt. 8 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  9. 9. 9 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy Dining and Entertainment When dining in a restaurant, arrive on time. Russians are great hosts and love entertaining guests in their homes. They will often put more food on the table than can be eaten to indicate there is an abundance of food (whether there is or not). Guests who leave food on their plates honor their host. It means they have eaten well. If you’re invited for dinner, don’t make other plans for later in the evening. You are expected to spend time socializing after the meal. An invitation to a Russian dacha (country home) is a great hon- or. Do not turn down offers of food or drink. Given Russian hospitality, this can be difficult, but to decline such offers is considered rude. At formal functions, guests do not usual- ly start eating until the host has begun. At such functions, no one should leave until the guest of honor has left. If you are the guest of honor, do not stay too late. Know your limits when drinking alcohol in Russia. Drinking is often an all-or- nothing affair – moderation is not un- derstood. Toasts, which are sometimes lengthy and occasionally humorous, are com- mon. The host starts and the guests reply. Do not drink until the first toast has been offered.After a toast, most Russians like to clink their glasses to- gether. Do not do so if you are drinking something non-alcoholic. Dress A “serious” businessperson is expected to look formal and conservative. Wear- ing very light or bright colors might make you appear lazy or unreliable to a Russian. Men should wear suits and ties. Women should wear suits and dresses or pant- suits. Gifts A small business gift is always appropri- ate, but its value should correspond to the rank of the Russian businessperson with whom you are meeting. As a general rule, do not give items that are now easily obtainable in Russia. Bring a gift for the hostess when visit- ing a Russian home. A small gift for a Russian child is always appropriate (and appreciated). IMPORTANT TIPS 9 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  10. 10. 10 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy Russia has had a long history of totalitarianism, which has resulted in a rather fatalistic approach to living. The desire to work individually under personal initiative was sup- pressed by the Czarist and Communist states. With the advent of perestroika (restructur- ing), the Soviet/Communist value system has been scrapped, but the pace of reform has been slow and many are finding it very difficult to adapt to the Western values of individ- ualism and profit maximization. Older Russians are generally quite pessimistic and don’t have much faith in a better life in the future. Younger urban Russians have adopted a more Western outlook on life. PEOPLE IN RUSSIA Meeting and Greeting Initial greetings may come across as cool. Do not expect friendly smiles. A handshake is always appropriate (but not obligatory) when greeting or leaving, regardless of the relationship. Remove your gloves before shaking hands. Don’t shake hands over a threshold (Russian folk belief holds that this action will lead to an argument). Body Language Russians are a very tactile people, and public physical contact is common. Hugs, backslapping, kisses on the cheeks and other expansive gestures are common among friends or acquaintances and be- tween members of the same sex. Russians stand close when talking.
  11. 11. 11 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy DO’S Bring a Little Gift with You Whether it’s a souvenir, a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates, a little something is al- ways better than nothing. Russians are very hospitable and thoughtful. Your Russian friends will most likely spend quite a few doubloons on preparing a meal and trying to make their guests happy. Often we buy expensive yummy things for our guests that we don’t usually buy for ourselves. If you are visiting a lady, flowers and a box of chocolates would work wonders! A little tip: always give an odd number of flowers, an even number of flowers is only given at funerals. Outfit Is Important Russians like dressing up, whether it’s for school, work or just a walk in a park. Often at University you will see guys and girls wearing casual business attire: shirts and slacks or even suits. Also, it’s a Russian tradition to dress up for a test and bring a gift or flowers to the teacher. You will no- tice that Russian women dress up for any occasion, we like looking pretty, this is why it takes us as long as it does to get ready. A tip: if you are going out with your Russian friends, make sure to check the dress code with them, just in case if you are going to a fancy restaurant. Be Prepared to Be Fed Big Time! Love food? Very good! Russians love to feed. We love cooking and baking for our guests. If celebrated at home, birthday celebration preparation may take all day, which is very exhausting on one hand, but also very satisfying. We love making our guests happy, and we want for them to be well-fed and have a great time. So, don’t be surprised if you are offered food left-overs when you are leaving. A good example would be cake leftovers after a birthday party. Just say “спасибо большое” and enjoy! Be Hospitable Russians are usually very friendly and hospitable, they enjoy having guests over and they enjoy being guests. This means that you always need to be prepared to have guests over, just in case your Russian friends decide to pop by unexpectedly. Some of Russian favourite treats would be sweets, biscuits, or maybe something baked, like a pie or a cake and tea. Don’t worry about baking cakes every day (unless you really enjoy it, of course!), just make sure to have some chocolates, biscuits or Russian gingerbread that you can get at a local supermarket. Always use polite form “Вы” with Russians that you don’t know, es- pecially if they are older then you are, unless they initiate to use form “ты” with you. By addressing some- one by “Вы” you show that you respect them. And on the contrary, addressing strangers by “ты” may come across as very impolite and offensive, even if you didn’t mean it. 11 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  12. 12. 12 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy DON’TS Don’t Allow Women to Carry Heavy Items If you have been shopping with a lady, don’t al- low her to carry a heavy shopping bag, do offer to help, especially if she has to go up the stairs all the way to the 9th floor because the lift is broken (which, you will notice, happens rather often…). Allowing a woman to carry heavy items without offering to help is considered rude and impolite. Yes, we believe that men are stronger and they should be taking care of women. Don’t Be Surprised if Your Friends Think You are Rich If you are visiting Russia, your Russian friends may think of you as a rich person, just because you come from another country. This is especial- ly true about Russians who have never travelled abroad, or never talked to a foreigner before. It is generally believed that foreigners are wealth- ier than Russians and it is very easy for them to afford to buy expensive things such as cars and houses. Some Russians still believe what they see on the TV shows and movies (especially older genera- tions). Of course, soap operas and TV shows are far from reality, so please don’t be surprised if your friends will think you are rich. Often your Russian friends will not know that you have a car loan, a mortgage and are juggling several credit cards to pay your bills. Don’t Expect for People to Smile Back at You Russians love a good laugh, but don’t expect us to smile at a stranger. If you smile at a passer-by in the street and she doesn’t smile back at you, please don’t take it person- ally, and don’t think of her as being rude and cold. The truth is that it’s not generally accepted to smile or talk to strangers in Russia, especially in big cities. Even if Russians don’t smile that much, even on photos, they do form very strong bonds and close friendships. Once they get to know you a little better, they will certainly smile more in your company. 12 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  13. 13. 13 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy CORPORATE CULTURE Corporate Culture Russians appreciate punctuality. Business meetings generally begin on time. Business cards are handed out liberally in Russia and are always exchanged at business meetings. The ceremony of presenting and receiving business cards is important. Don’t treat it lightly. Representatives of the Russian company or government body are usually seated on one side of a table at meetings with guests on the other side. Your company should be represented by a specialized team of experts. Presentations should be thoroughly prepared, detailed, factual and short on “salesmanship.” Russians usually negotiate technical issues very competently, directly and clearly but, being newcomers to capitalism, often do not fully understand Western business practices and objectives. You may have to explain the reasoning behind some of your demands. Russians find it difficult to admit mistakes, especially publicly. They also find it difficult to risk offending someone by making re- quests or assertions. Trying to do business in Russia over the tele- phone is generally ineffective. The Russian telecommunications system is inadequate, but improving quickly. The telex is widely used. Personal relationships play a crucial role in Russian business. Business negotiations in Russia are lengthy and may test your patience. Plan to be in for the long haul. No agreement is final until a contract has been signed. Under Communism there were no incentives for bureaucrats to perform well or to even be pleasant toward clients; this meant that the usual answer to any question was “No.” This practice is still found in Russian society today, but “No” is usu- ally not the final word on an issue. You have to bargain and be persistent to get what you want.
  14. 14. 14 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy TIME MANAGEMENT Under Communism, it was almost impossible to fire employees for tardiness. Many Rus- sians arrived to work late, left early, or took overlong lunch breaks (during which they stood in line). After 70 years of this, it will take a while to change attitudes. Now, Western attitudes toward punctuality and prompt customer service are taught to Russian employ- ees of foreign-owned companies. Most managers find younger Russians to be receptive. To the older generation, though, time is not linear and there is not much regard for keeping to schedules. The association between time and money is loose. Time is wisdom, not money. Patience is a virtue, punctuality less so. There is often an attitude that one should work to live and not vice versa. Apart from the new business-orientated class, Russians tend to take a laid-back attitude to getting things done. Business appointments may begin one or even two hours late. Foreigners often have a hard time understanding Russians when they say “We will try to finish the work on time” or “Perhaps it will work”. Actually, Russians are merely suggesting possible outcomes that may or may not turn out to be positive. Essentially, they mean a Russian (and a businessperson as well) is ready to operate in continually changing condi- tions. When time can be saved, but it costs more money, the Russian will opt for the lower cost - even though it may take considerably more time. Money is a much more precious com- modity than time. This carries into their business behaviour as well.
  15. 15. 15 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy WHEN IN RUSSIA... 1. Take Off Your Shoes When entering a Russian home, it is abso- lutely imperative to immediately remove your shoes. The host will probably provide some tapochki or slippers to wear. Streets in Russia, especially in the big cities, tend to be very dirty. For instance, if you walk around Moscow in flip flops, don’t be surprised if your feet turn black by the end of the day. Therefore, always remove your shoes. It stops the spread of dirt, snow, ice, and sand in the winter time. 2. Bring a Gift When visiting someone’s home in Rus- sia, it is important not to show up emp- ty-handed. The host has likely prepared a sumptuous meal and spent money to keep you comfortable at their home. As such, it is polite to bring the host a gift. You don’t have to bring a gift for everyone, just the hosts. If the host is a woman, flowers, chocolate, or wine is much appreciated. If the host is a man, bring some beer if he drinks or ask beforehand what he would like you to add to the party. But if you are absolutely clueless about what to bring, fancy chocolate will please everyone. 3. Do Not Give Flowers in Even Numbers This rule cannot be underestimated. When buying flowers in Russia, DO NOT buy them in even numbers. Usually, the florist will say something if an even number of flowers is acci- dentally chosen but it is up to you to avoid this faux pas. Giving flowers in even numbers is very rude because they are only used at funerals. Additionally, some see yellow flowers as funeral flowers so to be safe, don’t give these either. Russia is a country that is very new and innovative in many ways. However, it is also a country that is steeped in tradition and superstition. Even the most dedicated former communist can still be ruled by these old traditions that dictate how one should behave in a Russian home or in public. Because so many of these rules may be unknown to foreigners or might cause some con- fusion, here is a list of 10 ways to not offend people in Russia.
  16. 16. 16 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy WHEN IN RUSSIA... Russia is a very new and innovative country in many ways. However, it is also a country that is steeped in tradition and superstition. Even the most dedicated former communist can still be ruled by these old traditions that dictate how one should behave in a Russian home or in public. Because so many of these rules may be unknown to foreigners or might cause some confusion, here is a list of 10 ways to not offend people in Russia. 4. Keep Your Cup Half-Full if You’re Not Ready for More Alcohol This rule isn’t so much about politeness but is a good rule to keep in mind when drinking with Russians. If you’re not a big drinker, be careful with how much they offer to drink. If they see an empty cup, they will automatically refill it to be polite. However, if you feel that you’re reaching your limit, keep your cup half full. Additionally, if you don’t drink, the best way to fend off unwanted drinks is to say that a doctor said you aren’t allowed to drink. Works every time. 5. Never Argue with Babushki The Russian babushki, or grandmothers, are not to be meddled with. Though they are among the weakest members of society financially, they command a lot of respect and power. No matter what they tell you to do, just smile, nod, and do it their way. There’s ab- solutely no point in arguing with them. You will not win. Additionally, be sure to give them a seat on the metro, tram, or marshrutka bus. They might start yelling at you if you don’t; this applies to young men in particular. 6. If Staying the Night, Bring Some Home Clothes Usually when people get home, they immediately change into their “home clothes,” usually a t-shirt and pyjama pants. This is to reduce the amount of dirt and germs that enter their apartments. Most people in Russia do not own their own cars and must rely on public transportation, which is not always the cleanest. Therefore, when living as a foreign exchange student with a Russian host family or just staying as an overnight house guest, bring some old sweats or something comfortable to change into.
  17. 17. 17 Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy WHEN IN RUSSIA... 7. Never Exchange Money After Nightfall Let’s say that you owe your host mom or friend a little money. Be sure to pay them back, just don’t do it at night time. Many believe that any money dealings after nightfall is a bad sign, so it is better to wait until morning to do this. 8. Do Not Shake Hands Over a Threshold When meeting someone at the front door, never shake hands over a threshold. Wait until inside to do so. 9. Forget Something? Look in the Mirror If you have left something behind and need to return to the host’s apartment, be sure to look in a mirror before you leave again. This is another time-honored superstition and it is best not to argue about it. Most homes have a place to hang coats by the door which is accompanied by a mirror, so it is not difficult to adhere to this belief. 10. Be Sure to Toast While at a party, especially at a wedding or birthday party, there will be toasts. These gen- erally aren’t that formal and don’t require elaborate Russian language skills to give. Just remember that the third toast is always “to love” or “za lyubov” and that everything else is just “za” and then the word in accusative case. Just be sure not to make any funny toasts that refer to political figures or Soviet times. It might be seen as rude. Stick to classics like “to friendship” “za druzhbu” or “to us” which is “za nas.” You can’t go wrong with those!- those! Country profile RUSSIALearnmera Oy
  18. 18. Veronica Gelfgren Yulia Bazyukina Marja-Liisa Helenius Research Research, layout Proofreading Learnmera Oy