Most Russians are raised in traditions of Christianity or other Abrahamic religions, and although many of them are non-believers, they share respective values.
About 30 percent of Russians speak English to one degree or another, a recent poll shows. In Moscow, the share must be somewhat larger. Certainly, it does not mean that every third Russian is ready to discuss medieval English literature or the latest Times’ column. Still, many people can show you the way to the nearest metro station.
Discussing politics, mind that most Russians support the powers that be and may take criticism against them as a personal insult, especially from a foreigner.
Many Russians are very proud of their historical heritage and expect the rest of the world to admire it. The victory in the Great Patriotic War (WW2) is the major source of pride for many of them, along with the first manned space flight by the Soviet Air Force pilot Yuri Gagarin.
Some sources state that due to the Russians’ “collective spirit” they will join a table of strangers rather than eat alone at a restaurant. This is an obsolete view, and your attempt to share a dinner with a family or a group of friends without their invitation may be considered impolite.
Do not believe the fairy tales saying that with Russians you must drink vodka in a single shot. Even if you refuse to drink it at all nobody will be insulted.
Gift giving between family and friends is usual on birthdays and the New Year day. On 23 February (Defenders’ Day) women give presents to men, and on 8 March (International Women’s Day) they swap over.
When you visit a Russians’ home, hosts may ask you to remove your outdoor shoes and offer you slippers. This is justified since streets in Moscow may be dusty or muddy.
Dating traditions in Russia do not differ much from those in Europe and the Americas. The age of consent for sex in Russia is 16.
Most Russians strongly disapprove of same-sex relations. The law does not ban homosexuality but demonstrating such relations in public may cause a problem while promoting homosexuality is a penal offence.
To be in touch with the English-speaking community, join Moscow Expats Facebook group.