Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What should I absolutely not do when visiting your country? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread. Thank you to the team at Quora for making this happen!
1. Don’t give even number of flowers as a gift. That’s for dead folks. Proper bouquet will have 1/3/5/7/… flowers.
2. Don’t wear your street shoes inside private homes (unless you were specifically told you can do so). Streets are dirty so we wear slippers or go bare-feet.
3. Don’t joke about terrorists, bombs, etc. Don’t leave your bags unattended. Don’t touch unknown unattended bags. Expect security checks in some public places. Especially in big cities and Caucasian regions.
4. Again: don’t leave your belongings unattended. You may not find them when you return. This also means not leaving your car unlocked and not leaving anything valuable in a car in a plain view (including GPS trackers).
5. Don’t expect to get on with credit card only. There are lots of places which only accept cash.
6. If you’re a homosexual you’d better refrain from showing this in public. You may get in trouble with some crazy homophobe or maybe even with police. Some anti-gays laws were introduced recently, so fighting with “people propagandizing relationships which contradict Russian spiritual values” is the latest fashion. And absolutely certainly stay away from drunken-looking groups of people.
7. The last one actually applies to everybody, especially to those who don’t look very “white”: stay away from drunken-looking or aggressive-looking groups of people. You never know what’ll come into their mind. Russians in general are pretty peaceful but there are some ultra-nationalistic youth who can be very aggressive.
8. Don’t accept any drinks from strangers, esp. in a places like bus/train stations, trains, parks. There might be some drugs or soporifics there. It’s not like it’s very common, and quite often people might actually want to share a drink with you without any bad intentions, but why take a risk?
9. Don’t criticize Soviet Union when talking with people over 40. They grew up at those times and might be nostalgic. Even if they enjoy modern life they might not like hearing foreigners talking about it.
10. Don’t assume we support everything our government does. Quite often we don’t. Don’t criticize our government. We do it a lot by ourselves, we don’t need your help in that.
11. During the winter & early spring don’t come too close to building’s roofs – there might be icicles there. If one falls on your head it can kill you. And you never know when one decides to fall. And yes, we have public utilities to clean the roofs, only there are too many roofs.