Russian dates back to at least the 10th century. It is spoken by 260 million people worldwide and it’s the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. It is a recognised regional language in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It’s also a significant minority language in many of the Baltic countries and Central Asia and is still used as a lingua franca in the former Soviet countries.
As a country, it is full of cultural contradictions. Not only is it a very big country, covering nine time zones, but the upheavals of the 1990s created a very pronounced generational gap. Generally, the older generations are marked by a tendency towards conservatism and have a group mentality whilst the younger generations are much more dynamic and progressive, with a more individualist approach.
- Russia has the world’s longest railway. The Trans-Siberian spans nearly the whole country, departing Moscow in the west and travelling to Vladivostok in the east. The entire journey is 9,200km long (5,700mi) and would take 152 hours and 27 minutes to complete non-stop.
- Moscow is home to more billionaires than almost any other city. It has 73 billionaires and ranks behind only New York (82) and Hong Kong (75).
- Due to the size of the country (6.6 million sq miles), Russia has nine time zones.
- Along with English, Russian is the language of space. Astronauts must learn Russian as part of their training and the computer system of the ISS uses both English and Russian.
- The Russian alphabet consists of 33 letters divided into 10 vowels, 21 consonants and 2 letters which do not designate any sounds.
Russia has started major investment and modernisation programmes which will provide opportunities for UK firms. It’s looking for foreign investment, expertise, technology and resources across a wealth of sectors and has diverse regions to present these in. These regions are increasingly competing to attract international investment and some regions have made significant improvements to make it easier to do business, such as Kaluga and Kazan.
More than 600 UK companies have a physical presence in Russia. Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Russia include a desire of Russian companies to use international accounting and legal standards, respect for ‘UK made’ brands (including retail and luxury) and an anticipated increase in the number of Russian SMEs.
There are a multitude of opportunities across different sectors such as engineering, mining, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, education and energy. Russia also offers excellent opportunities for museum developers and curators with international expertise in preparing funding applications, business planning, procurement of innovative exhibition equipment and installations, appointing project teams, including exhibition designers and other museum specialists.
There are also opportunities for UK creative companies in concept development, master planning, landscape design, interpretative planning, lighting and other visual effects, branding, development of museum/attraction shops with branded products and the introduction of interactive elements into content.
It is acceptable to be a little late for meetings but not more than 15 minutes. Due to the level of congestion within cities, it can be acceptable to blame traffic or indeed the delays on the Metro, but the Russians are very patriotic about their Metro system so always compliment it as well as telling them how busy it was.
When talking to Russians, always maintain eye contact and if a discussion is serious do not try and smile to lift the atmosphere. Never show the soles of your shoes as it is considered rude and they are considered dirty so do not let them come into contact with a seat. It is frowned upon if you stand around with your hands in your pockets or sit with your legs apart or with one ankle resting upon the knee. It is also insulting to summon someone with your forefinger. Instead, turn your hand so that the palm faces down and motion inward with all four fingers at once.
Business tip: A firm handshake is mandatory in a business meeting, and with every man who is in the room. Handshakes within women is less expected if you are outside Moscow and they might not extend their hand, so a ‘hello’ and general acknowledgement is acceptable.
Here are some basic greetings and phrases to familiarise yourself with:
|Welcome||Dobro požalovat||Добро пожаловать!|
|How are you?||Kak vaši dela?||Как ваши дела?|
|Pleased to meet you||Prijatno poznakomit'sja||Приятно познакомиться|
|Good morning||Dobroe utro!||Доброе утро!|
We have translated extensively into Russian in the health & wellbeing sector for clients such as Young Living and dōTERRA. We have also worked in the Technology sector, translating a client website into Russian as well as white papers. Types of content that we have translated include websites, product specifications, marketing material, newsletters, and product catalogues.