Why Russians Don't Smile In the Streets.

Believe in her, if you are able...

A great Russian poet Feodor Tyutchev said about Russia:

Умом Россию не понять,
Аршином общим не измерить:
У ней особенная стать —
В Россию можно только верить.

"Russia cannot be understood by the intellect,
nor can it be measured by a common yardstick;
it has its own special form,
you can only have faith in Russia"

To my mind the best translation was made by Anatoly Liberman, published in "Russian Life" in the USA:

You will not grasp her with your mind
Or cover with a common label,
For Russia is one of a kind -
Believe in her, if you are able...

What foreigners think....

I came across a hub here, on Hubpages where an author shares her experience from her first short visit to Russia. Her description of Russia and Russians is very true and realistic, but it is just an outer sight of a deep and controversial character of Russian people. She was unpleasantly shocked that Russian people do not smile easily. Many foreigners note this as well. Sadly, they attribute it to a feature of Russian character.

Also, I found here an amazing description of Russians by a foreigner visitor. 

Since I am a transplant from Soviet Union (which included Russia), I would like to share my understanding of this topic first hand.

Russia is a big, great and really really beautiful land. It has rich and colorful history, not always flattering for the country.

Please, read about history of Russia here.

Mongolian Khan in a captured Russian village
Mongolian Khan in a captured Russian village
A Peasant Leaving His Landlord on Yuriev Day, painting by Sergei Ivanov.
A Peasant Leaving His Landlord on Yuriev Day, painting by Sergei Ivanov.
Soviet poster. It says "Don't chat!"
Soviet poster. It says "Don't chat!"

Russia and Russians

Russian people is a special category, not like any other nation in the world. Russian nation was a product of politics mostly. Throughout the long history of Russia from ancient times the political elite (Tsars, Nobles and the like) were mostly of foreign bloods (German and Prussian). Simple people were of Slavic ethnic groups. but throughout the long history of wars of conquest and suppressions, Slavic ethnics mingled greatly with mongolo-tatars ethnics.

A long history of serfdom (type of slavery) put a long lasting mark on the Russian nation too. Russian people were ruled to be obedient. This was even aggravated during the soviet time which began with socialistic revolution. That time brought a new name for a Russian nation- “Soviet nation”, as it consisted of 128 plus nations and nationalities.

“Soviet people” were trained to be politically correct and obedient, as anyone falling out of rule was labeled as “dissident” and punished by imprisonment or by being banned from the society (not being able to find a job according his profession, or forbidden to live in major cities, for example). Soviet people were afraid to say out loud what they thought (if it was not in accordance with government line), they were afraid to criticize their government, to sound any disapproval or judgment of the government decisions. Any politically incorrect word could bring them and their families into lots of life lasting troubles. People were encouraged to spy on each other and report any suspicious situations to KGB (the Russian abbreviation for Committee of State Security, an equivalent of CIA and FBI).

All this made Soviet people apprehensive and trained them to see a potential enemy in every stranger.

Russian people do not smile on the streets and this is not their fault. Many foreigners visiting Russia note that Russian people don’t smile, that in the streets of Russian towns they see gloomy faces and Russian people take their eyes away if they meet with your eyes.

All this is sadly true, but it does not mean that Russian people are unfriendly or rude.

Russian people DO smile. They smile at home, at work (if their co-workers are nice and friendly people), they smile when they celebrate or party. They DO smile when they are in the company of people whom they know and trust. They reserve their smiles for these occasions.

When I moved from Soviet Union to Israel and later to USA, the first thing that impressed me was a totally new experience concerning faces of strange to me people, people with whom I was not acquainted. Completely strange people were smiling or greeting me when our eyes met. It was different. I felt that I am in a really free country. Unless you experience life under a totalitarian regime you will not really appreciate the luxury of a free smile.

So, Russian gloominess is not a national feature… it is more like a forced self-guard…

Russians are very hospitable

Russian nation is very hospitable. There is an old tradition of greeting a visitor with “Bread and Salt” when a respected, important or dear guest is presented with a freshly baked round shaped bread (called “karavai”) with a slat holder or salt cellar placed in the middle of “karavai”. A guest is supposed to break a piece of bread, dip it into salt and taste it.

When you get to visit a Russian house, a hostess will always try to feed you, even if you are not hungry. At least tea will be served for you and this “tea” will include a pie, or cookies, or pirozhki. If you go to visit a Russian house you are not supposed to come with empty hands. It is customary to bring something as a present- a box of chocolates, a bottle of booze or flowers for a hostess (if you bring flowers, bring an odd number of flowers; this is also a Russian tradition- flowers are never brought in even numbers unless the flowers are brought for a funeral occasion. So, flowers in odd numbers for living person, in even numbers for a dead one…). It is customary to take off your street shoes when you come into a house. Many foreigners take it as a humiliation, but actually it is done in respect for a hostess (in appreciation of her labor to keep the house clean. By the way, it is very health beneficiary, as you don’t bring all the microbes from outside). And expect that a hostess will offer you a pair of slippers ("tapochki") to wear in the house.

As you see, any country has its own ways and traditions. What might seem odd and weird to one person is completely acceptable for another.

The main point to keep in mind when you visit a foreign country is that you should accept it as it is.

I hope I was able to explain why Russians don’t smile in the streets. They reserve their smiles for special occasions.

More by this Author


Comments 72 comments

suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

they do smile,when some thing goes wrong


Vladimir Uhri profile image

Vladimir Uhri 6 years ago from HubPages, FB

Aha ReuVera, Kalinka maja.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Fascinating piece.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

suny, you mean when things go wrong with somebody else? LOL


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Vladimir, right, when you hear Kalinka song, your legs just go dancing.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Pop, thank you, your approval means a lot.


suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

yep, thats what i mean.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

suny, this feature is also a product of totalitarian regime. When person is free inside, he is happy and loves the world. When a person is suppressed, he envies anybody who is successful....


sjk6101983 profile image

sjk6101983 6 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

Can I just say a few things: I love Russian accents! I think they're so beautiful to listen to - especially your son's and we have one other guy at Hillel who's from Russia. He's Diana's boyfriend's cousin, but I love listening to him, Diana, and Leon all talk because they talk Russian together. :) I also studied Russian history on my own one summer - yes, I told Reuven about it - and it was interesting. I also remember when I was younger, my dad did an internship at MSOE (how small the world is, huh?), and he was working with a guy who was from Russia. This guy was actually the sweetest guy and used to take my dad out every night after work - the guy even taught me some Russian that I wish I remembered! :)


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

When I was in Europe for a summer, most of the time in a former soviet state, one of the ways I was spotted as an American is because I smile all the time. In fact, while visiting a family, the little daughter asked her mother, "Why does she smile?"


Anton 6 years ago

?? ????????? ????? ? ??? ??? ??????, ????????? ?? ??????? ?? ????? ??? ?????, ????????? ? ??? ??? ????? ????? ????? ??????? ?????? ???? ?? ???? ???? ??? ????? ??????? ???????? ????? ????, ? ?? ??? ??? ? ?????????? ? ??????? ?? ?????. ??? ???? ?????????? ?? ????? ???? ??? ? ?? ??? ??????????? ? ???????!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But, actually, I guess that Anton wrote his comment in Russian (Cyrillic letters), that's why hubpages didn't recognize it....


tobey100 profile image

tobey100 6 years ago from Whites Creek, Tennessee

Excellent and eye opening. Great hub


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, tobey.


=RDOGG= 6 years ago

Quote "suny, this feature is also a product of totalitarian regime. When person is free inside, he is happy and loves the world. When a person is suppressed, he envies anybody who is successful...."

False.

A Russian smile is a sign of personal attraction.

Russian smile is sincere. It is the expression of either high spirits or a good attitude to a partner.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

rdogg, it is NOT false. It is the truth that you don't want to recognize.

But what you've said is right, no arguing this. Russian smile IS sincere and Russians are very hospitable. The problem is that Russian smile is reserved for either special occasions or for special people. And explanation of this phenomenon is in my hub.


suny51 profile image

suny51 6 years ago

Look please do not misquote me I said when some thing goes wrong,that is inclusive of them also,I have worked with them and they prefer to keep working in silence, but if some thing goes wrong they just give it a glance, a smile and back to work,otherwise they are nice and warm people.Dasvedaniya.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

suny, rdogg quoted me, he quoted my answer.

You have very good observations. Spasibo.


dreamreachout 6 years ago

Very true and good description but I suppose things are changing now as people are more free and society more tolerant!!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

I hope so. I was not back to Russia since I left in 1991. I hope people are smiling for no reason more now. Though I heard that there are still many gloomy faces there....


aliya 6 years ago

the russians are very considerate and their smiles should be earned. we do smile, but i guess not that openly u know) we don't usually greet strangers and ask how they are like you do =) i'm not saying it's a bad thing, but i was kind of shocked arriving to JFK and being smiled at and greeted by complete strangers. at first i was like: these people are up to smth! i thought i'd be robbed by them :)it all turned out great though)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

aliya, this is exactly what I tried to tell in my hub. I myself didn't smile much for complete strangers when I lived in Soviet Union, we were very closed. If a complete stranger would smile for you, you would be just on alert, "why did he smile? what's behind this?". We were not bad natured, we were just apprehensive....

Americans and other people in really free countries are free inside and out. It doesn't cost anything to smile, why should someone earn your smile? When you are happy, you give your smiles easily.

I became opened living in Israel and US and I smile now and I say Hello, when I meet somebody's glance, even if it's a complete strander.


datych profile image

datych 6 years ago from St. Petersburg, Russia

Great article! So great style that I decided to sign up)

However that's... funny to illustrate Russian hospitality with photos of the costumed dolls with plastic smiles. They are so... export stuff, not true stuff...


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

datych, thanks again for reading and commenting. Welcome to Hubpages! I am flattered that I was the cause. LOL.

You are right about the girls.... they are like Potemkin's villages, showing off... But you know that this is a real Russian tradition- to meet an important guest with bread and salt. And Russians ARE hospitable, no other nation can beat it.


datych profile image

datych 6 years ago from St. Petersburg, Russia

ReuVera, thanks for welcoming!)

Unfortunately I can't talk about Russian traditions like the bread-salt one cause I rarely visit Russian small towns and villages. Moscow and St. Petersburg live in their own way.

So I'd like to visit Russia rural places but some people say I am crazy because there are a lot of drinkers, criminals and "gopniks" in Russian province and this can be a trouble for a Russian-speaking traveler especially with "south appearance" and an intelligent speech. At the same time they say small town people are warmer and opener... And in my small experience both points are true.

I think all friendly people in any country make you feel comfortable and it doesn't matter how often they smile. So do friendly Russians and I like them very much.)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

datych, you are welcome and thanks for following me.

I mean that bread-salt tradition is an old Russian tradition, but now it is mostly a part of official ceremony.

You are right, friendly people exist in every country.


Angela_1973 profile image

Angela_1973 6 years ago

Very nice read, I am happy to have found it. Hope you enjoy mine on Russian people, I miss this country and hope to visit there again one day.


Angela_1973 profile image

Angela_1973 6 years ago

Very nice read, I am happy to have found it. Hope you enjoy mine on Russian people, I miss this country and hope to visit there again one day.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Angela, thank you for reading and commenting. You hub about Russian people is outstanding! So true! Thank you!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 6 years ago from USA Author

Angela, I linked your hub here. Thank you.


Elaine 6 years ago

Very interesting insight. Thanks for sharing.


moncrieff profile image

moncrieff 6 years ago from New York, NY

I liked your hub. My recent trip to Russia made me actually sit down and write about the unsmiling phenomenon, because you see I got so mad that everyone was so tense on the street! I wanted to shake up all those people literally asking them, what is wrong with you people?! But who am I in the end to interrupt their flow of life... So I also linked your hub to mine on, as it turns out, the same subject!


CHRIS57 5 years ago

This "no smile" observation - funny, but think only Americans can come up with it.

I am neither Russian nor American, but i have lived in both countries and i can comment: There are two very different positions:

The Russian way of opening their hearts only in private life to friends.

The American way of "How are you today", which actually means nothing and is absolutely not authentic.

Everybody not used to the "How are you" way of living will not really be offended, won´t even notice it.

What makes me sick is the Russian habit of answering a phone call: "Da" - best grunted in a deep voice with a tone of utmost unfriendliness.

Spacibo, etot hub mne nravitsa, skajet nemetz.


LaurelB profile image

LaurelB 5 years ago from Paducah, Kentucky

I have heard Russians come up with this observation, CHRIS57, so it's not just an American thing.

I find this to be very accurate to my experience. Good work.


marwan asmar profile image

marwan asmar 5 years ago from Amman, Jordan

We found a friend! I am always being told that in Jordan, people don't smile, well, from your hub, I now know that Russians don't smile either!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Thank you, everybody who visited and commented!

Chris, I am from Russia, so it is observation from inside.

Laurie, you are right!

Marwan, as a matter of fact, Russians do smile and their smiles are wide and beautiful. But Russians do not smile on the streets, for strangers. Their smiles are reserved. I hope I explained why....


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

This hub offers great insight to help us understand Russians. We have many Russian/Ukrainian friends and they are wonderful people. I'm looking forward to learning more from your hubs.


Darknlovely3436 profile image

Darknlovely3436 5 years ago from NewYork

just gave them something to smile about..and you would be surprised on their facial expression.


Dmitry 5 years ago

privet :)


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Privet, Dima :-)


Stanley 5 years ago

hmm, you forgot about proverb which has no equivalent in other languages: Laughing without reason, is a sign of stupidity. And if we include that russians mix smiling and laughing, so there is a question why they don't smile much. I'm also russian, and i do smile when something good happens, like there is a spot of light in a rainy day, or if i see a really happy couple, i smile because i want them to be happy ever after. Smiling for russian *if it was sincere* is more than emotion, it's an action for good sake. Yes it should be earned, and not because of communist shit which is writen up there, just because when you smile it means sincere emotion, wishing of happiness to you, and you smile 24\7 like most americans do, it becomes just mask, without any meaning, like "how are you", which means jut an expression and nothing else. Also russian language adress to soul not body like 99% of other languages, we don't say "there is noBODY", we say "there is noSOUL". So my point was XD *sry i forgot what i was talking about XD* that smile is more likely to be a soul connection, and you can't share this connection with thousand of people, or you will lose you life energy. And for politness we have words, and special difficult expressions, which sometimes can break you tongue XD Everything that is not aout european part of russia, it's about Siberia from Ural till Chita city, so idk how the ppl in Far East or in European part think about smiles. I was in US, and i hated those smiles, yes, it looks good, but it feels strange, like everyone have their mask on, and their dolls, you just can feel their soul under this smiles. XD sry for long post XD


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

Stanley, thank you for visiting and commenting, I am glad it was a long post.

A post of a Russian mentality. I am not saying that it right or wrong.... It is just that different people have different mentalities and you can't get away from it unless you chose to.

If you want my opinion- I prefer smiling Americans than gloomy Russians. And oh you are so wrong that Americans' smiles are not sincere. Their smiles are from all the heart and only apprehensive Russians can think differently. Come on, open up! After all you've chosen an American name for yourself to post here! I bet your name is not Stanley (is it Stanislav?)

P.S. "Laughing without reason, is a sign of stupidity" is one of many stupid Russian sayings of Soviet Era.

P.P.S. in Russian we do say "noSOUL", but only as an emphatic expression and you know this. In regular language it will be "noWHOM", if it is possible to make a literate translation.

Anyway, thank you again for commenting.


Valeriya 5 years ago

So so

Russians smile when they really feel happy

They use smile as an emotion

They are really clever and they usually think

and you can guess smile bothers thoughts imho

P.S. i am russian


Russian heavy weapons guy 5 years ago

? ? ???? ???????? ???, ??? ??????! ? ?? ???? ?? ???????! ???? ???????????? ??? ??????-?????? ?????! ?????? ??????? ???????!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 5 years ago from USA Author

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please, when you comment next time, write your comment using Latin alphabet symbols, because this site did not recognize other symbols in comment capsules.


greatstuff profile image

greatstuff 4 years ago from Malaysia

Hi ReuVera, Just came across this Hub. Thanks for enlightening us, I now understand the Russian people better. I used to wonder why they sound and looked so serious, when I bumped into them at our shopping mall! Will be sharing this hub.


MG Singh profile image

MG Singh 4 years ago from Singapore

Its a nice hub, but I have been many times to Russia and found them welcome with smiles. Maybe they are wary of Americans


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I used to date a Russian and the things he told me about growing up in modern Russia were pretty amazing. For example, his family did not tell him he was Jewish until they immigrated here - and this was in post-Soviet Russia! I think they really have been conditioned throughout the centuries to keep quiet about pretty much everything.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA Author

greatstuff, nice to meet you. :) You see- I am smiling. Shopping is a serious affair for Russians. LOL.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA Author

MG Singh, thank you for reading and commenting. I agree that Russians are very hospitable nation. In fact, there is no more hospitable people than Slavic people. Yes, they welcome with smiles. If they know you or if they expect you.

They would not open their heart to strangers though.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 4 years ago from USA Author

Natasha, thanks for your input. Yes, this is how it was. I also wrote about growing Jewish in the Soviet Union in one of my hubs.


Ivan 3 years ago

Here sat and still came across an interesting post.

I am Russian.

From Siberia. Can postural course but. Imagine a skeleton terminator))))

That a handshake breaks your fingers and hand, and assuring looking into his eyes smiling.

  That is the most that is the answer)))))

Google translation))


apartmentsminsk profile image

apartmentsminsk 3 years ago from New York, New York

hard life and the past from the ussr my 5 cents


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 3 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Thanks for this!


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 3 years ago from USA Author

Hi Cindy, I am glad this was of some use for you. Though it is about Russians, not about Ukrainians, but their ways and habits are the same... Please, read my other hubs about Russian ways and food, maybe you'll like them too.


vika 3 years ago

i don't like american "how are you" and smile in store.they don't care about you . why ask? i live in usa from 2000. still I don't like.how about "see you", "call you later"? if somebody ask me how are you i want them to truly want to know how i am. like CHRIS57 post.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 3 years ago from USA Author

Vika, of course they care about you when they ask "how are you" in the store, it is a sign of politeness. A short "I am ok, thank you" is enough for an answer. You don't have to start showering them in your problems, like you would do in Russia.

If you live in USA since 2000, I would expect that you may learn English a little better and try to embrace the culture more.


Olga 3 years ago

Great job! :-)

However, not all do not smile :p :-) :D


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 3 years ago from USA Author

Olga, I am very glad that not all do not smile :-)


JordanaDor 13 months ago

I know this is a very old post, but I enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

I have only met a few Russians and have always just thought they were introverts. I have recently decided to try to learn the language, though it is very difficult for me. I speak two other languages, but Russian is very different from the languages I speak!

I have to say, perhaps we Americans smile so much because we truly are happy? I am a very happy person and I enjoy smiling. I don't smile when I am genuinely upset, but I am often happy! I remember, when I was younger, my very introverted brother used to complain that he had no friends and he wondered how I was able to smile at everyone. It is natural to me. Obviously, it is not to all Americans, though, either!

I don't think I smile because I am unintelligent! (Though I am certainly no genius.)


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 10 months ago from Mississauga, ON

Most beautiful and interesting article on Russians ever! As a lover of Russia, especially of Siberia and its Far East, I liked this immensely. You did a great job of explaining why Russians don't smile in public.


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 10 months ago from Irvine

There are Russians and there are Russians. If you are talking about Russians in a big city, they hardly look at each other. Most of them have their noses buried in some book or newspaper. In a city like Moscow, when you are contending with millions of others on the streets, it's only discreet to keep within your own space. New Yorkers are hardly any different. Everyone has their tiny space even on a crowded subway, so everyone acts like they are dead, zombies, and this may be the only way of reacting to such overcrowding and jamming together of human bodies. And this could also be in part to the "1984" artifact from the communist era where everyone was an "informant." You wanted to hide in the shadows for fear of being noticed -- for any reason. But you get these people inside the privacy of their own homes, and they are very normal -- maybe even more expressive.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 10 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I've always wanted to visit Russia. After reading this, maybe I should not. I'm a smiler from way back.....and 50% is due to sincere happiness & contentment.....50% out of habit, courtesies in the workplace or dealing with the public....I don't consider the latter an insincere smile, rather I'd say it's a smile of necessity.

People who never smile cause me great concern. Not sure why. I think I simply wonder just how utterly miserable can someone be?

Those who smile or laugh continually for no apparent reason....well, they have issues all their own!! LOL (see, I just made myself laugh!)


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 10 months ago from Irvine

fpherj48: There is the public side of Russians and the private side. When I visited Moscow, I was hit with the lack of smiles, but then I received my reward in more private settings. Russians have the greatest sense of humor on earth, so if you ever visit one of their big cities, don't be offput by the lack of smiles in public. This seems to be an outcropping of an overly-dense population plus a hangover from the times of communism.

Of course, the lack of smiles is bound to be the first thing any American would notice. It's a small (but troublesome) obstacle to a first-commer. Some Russians even complain that Americans are filled with false smiles. This isn't any more true than Russians seeming glum in public. It's a mere cultural difference. It's a seemingly small thing -- but not for one who is used to casually offering a smile to a stranger, as we do in the US.

We all have a persona. In America it just seems polite to smile to one another. Some Russians complain about American "false smiles." To some extent this is true, isn't it? I mean we smile to one another whether we feel amused or not, yes? In our culture smiling is just an act of civility.

My Russian wife tells me that she prefers the smiley backdrop -- that it projects a kind of positive spirit and isn't "fake." It has taken her a while to adopt the gesture. She can still look robotic passing by a group selling Girl Scout cookies or anyone looking for a hand-out, but you'd have to grow up in a city like Moscow to understand. This is not to say that Russians are ungenerous or lack compassion -- not by any means. They are in fact very generous (probably more so than us), but their outward, public countenance appears offputting to foreigners such as you and I.

A traveler just has to accept that the Russian outward demeanor looks very serious and unwelcoming, but it's just a demeanor. Whenever I had private exchanges with the Russian people, they were extremely polite and only too welcome for a few laughs.

For this reason alone (if none other), it's worth a trip to Russia -- just to see how history and culture play its parts. You have to be prepared for the public persona and pass it off.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 10 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Thank you for such an interesting & clear description of the Russian culture & demeanor. It does make sense.

Is it dangerous to visit the Ukraine at this time? I would so love to search for family members of my paternal grandparents!

I am tempted to use the Ancestor Search web site and just see what I may be able to discover. Thanks again....Paula


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 10 months ago from Irvine

fpher48: My wife is renting out her apartment in Moscow to a couple of newly graduated students (brother and sister) who have deep roots in Ukraine, and must travel there regularly because of an ill parent. The tenants complain about the border crossing, but other than that it is business as usual. I personally wouldn't want to visit Ukraine at this time because the country is more chaotic than usual.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 9 months ago from USA Author

My friend told me a story from her visit to Ukraine over decade ago. She was in an elevator with a woman and her daughter. She looked at the girl and smiled (she is a smiler, like you). The girl panicked, clung to her mother and said, "I don't know you!"


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 9 months ago from USA Author

Agreed. This is exactly what I tried to show in my hub. I experienced all this myself, first hand. I remember very well my inner unhappiness and being gloomy with strangers. I managed to overcome this yet living in the Soviet Union due to my positive nature. But not all could do this.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 9 months ago from USA Author

It depends what part of Ukraine you would like to visit now. Cities like Kyiv and Lviv are just fine, safe and worth visiting. But surely you will not go into Eastern part, where Russia-backed thugs are present.


rjbatty profile image

rjbatty 9 months ago from Irvine

ReuVera: Re. your comment about "Russian-backed thugs." The guys and gals trying to separate themselves from a long-lasting debacle of Ukraine's government do not consist merely of "thugs." How much Russia is helping them achieve their goal is not clear. You have the Western media explaining things and you have the Russian media offering counter-claims. Do you think that the Western media has some kind of complete exclusivity over honesty, or can you imagine that our own media is softened up by various Western corporate interests? There is a definite disparity, and I wouldn't be too quick to claim that the information trickling toward us is without a bias. It's hard to imagine thousands of "thugs" banding together to separate themselves from a government that is looking to fill their own purse. No, the struggle is much more complex, and calling the rebels "thugs" really gets you nowhere.


ReuVera profile image

ReuVera 9 months ago from USA Author

rjbatty

I said what I said and I know what I am talking about. Those are thugs, even if you call them rebels (most of them are not from Ukraine, they are coming from different parts of Russia). My hub is not about situation in Ukraine (I have another hub about it, written right during the beginning of the conflict). But I will answer you, not for discussion, just to explain my point. I did not take my input from mass media. I lived in Soviet Union, part of my family lives now in Ukraine. I know what KGB raised Putin is doing. The war in Ukraine started ONLY because of Russia's interference. After revolution in Kyiv, Russia annexed Crimea and sent heavy military equipment into Eastern Ukraine. All this was covered by lame excuse, that part of population wanted it. I will tell you, that part of population in Far East in Russia (Vladivostok city and Kurily islands) want to go back under Japan. Would Russia think it OK if Japan claims those territories? Or would be OK if Russia annexed Alaska back? Well, if you back Russia, we are on different shores. But, please, no discussion on this hub. You may move to my hub about Kyiv revolution, if you want to continue discussion. Sorry, if I sound rough, I am answering you fast, before going to work.


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rjbatty 5 days ago from Irvine

I went to Moscow to court my would-be fiancee (who would later become my wife). One of the first things I noticed was the non-smiley faces all around me.

At first I thought they were all gloomy or suffering from mass depression. Then when I caught a few in private, everything changed. I learned that Russians have an exterior face and a private face.

If you ever visit NY City, you can see something resembling this. Because the city is so densely populated, they do not bother to look at you/recognize you. To act cordially with every passer-by would be burdensome. So, the norm is go into a robotic mode. This is different than what the author presents -- quite legitimately. Population density is a factor in places like NY City or Moscow but it doesn't hold up for an entire nation of non-smiling people. I think the author gets it right. Acting like an android was the best response to a nation that jailed people for basically any reason -- often for no reason at all. This non-smiling characteristic is a hangover from the days of the USSR.

While we might not all have lived lives as depicted in "Ozzie and Harriet" or "Father Knows Best," we did not live under a state where you could be sent to a gulag because you held an oppositional point of view. The US had its flaws -- more than we'd like to recount -- but unless you openly proclaimed yourself to be a communist, you didn't have much to worry about. Yes, of course, the FBI went overboard (thanks to Hoover) in its hunt for communist sympathisers or even those who were somehow affiliated. All of that was dreadful and disgraceful, but compare it with the present -- where our security apparatus seems to have carte blanche in inspecting every aspect of our lives -- on the thread that we may hold some kind of commitment toward terrorism. There is always something to fear.

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