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Customs & Traditions in Russia

Updated: May 5, 2021

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General Etiquette

  • Always show high respect for those who are older than you. It’s common to adopt a more formal attitude.

  • Offer your seat to an elderly person, pregnant woman, or woman with a small child if they do not have one.

  • If anyone elderly is present, direct your attention and respect towards them.

  • Men are expected to open doors for women, pay for their food, help them carry items, etc.

  • People do not always wait in line. For example, Russians may start entering a train or bus before those on board have had the time to exit.

  • Commonly, one may be in line without actually standing there and will just inform the person in front of them they are behind them so that they can notify anyone else that arrives in the meantime. This ‘reserves’ their spot so they can do something else until it is their turn.

  • Dress neatly and tidily. Footwear for sporting activities should not be worn to enter restaurants or bars. One may be refused entry if wearing these shoes.

  • Talking to someone whilst keeping your hands in your pockets is rude.

  • Do not spread your legs wide apart when sitting.

  • It’s normal to be actively pushed when standing in crowds, lines, or public transport.

  • It can be very rude to act too casual and informal towards a stranger. It’s not always appreciated to assume familiarity before you are close with them.

  • Engagements and appointments usually run longer than expected, and deadlines are not always met.

  • If a Russian asks you a favor try your best to do it. To request a favor from you indicates they feel you are trusted.

  • When pointing out a mistake or critiquing something, do so privately and directly. The best approach would involve offering your assistance to help solve the problem as you point it out.

  • Any criticism is also likely to be appreciated more when it is delivered as the problem is occurring, as opposed to later on when the person can no longer do anything about it.

  • Avoid criticism about Russian, its politics, or the president.

  • Do not make jokes about Russians being drunks or women being mail-ordered brides for foreign men.


  • The Russian family is dependent upon all its members.

  • Most families live in small apartments, often with 2 or 3 generations sharing little space.

  • Most families are small, often with only one child because most women must also work outside of the house in addition to bearing sole responsibility for the household.