What is it like to live in Russia?

Lately, compliments of our commander-in-chief, Russia has been mentioned almost daily in the evening news. So what is it really like to live in Moscow or St Petersburg?
To get a better idea, I have turned to YouTube and I have screened a large quantity of Russian series and movies. I realize that they are only movies, but they often closely mirror reality.

Russian matryoshki

Russian productions can basically be divided in 2 distinct categories: films made during the communist era and those produced in the post-communist period. During the Communist era, the country produced an abundance of war movies featuring the undeniable prowess of the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War.
When the country transitioned from socialism to capitalism, the emphasis shifted from patriotism to the pursuit of happiness wealth. Love took second place.

The first time you watch a modern Russian movie, if you didn’t hear the soundtrack, you could easily believe that the protagonists live in an affluent European or even American environment. Everybody (especially the women) is well dressed, live in nice quarters and drive fancy cars. All the women are unabashedly flirty and looking for a “good man” (unmarried and wealthy… married will also do). Look is not too important. A man driving a fancy foreign car looks good in any environment.

Status and wealth are extremely important and one needs to be “well connected” to be respected. Elbowing with oligarchs is a must.
What is also very apparent in Russian movies is the almost daily practice of vzyatka (bribe, payola). If you want anything done, you need to grease somebody’s palm. It can be anything, money, vodka, but something has got to switch hands for things to happen.

In Russian movies men also seem to consume a considerable amount of vodka and they usually drink it in one gulp, or as the French would say “cul-sec » (bottoms up). They also all seem to have maids, “chauffeurs” and bodyguards. Ironically, 100 years after the Bolshevik Revolution, due to the income gap, modern Russia bears many similarities with tsarist Russia.

It seems that life can be very good in the Russian Federation. All it takes is a few lousy billions. But for the millions of “budgetniki” does not look so hot.


For interesting insights about Russia, follow Alexey Mikheev at


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