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Behaviours You May Find Puzzling There are some behaviour patterns you may find very different from those you are used to.

Some things may shock you initially, but they can usually be explained through Russia's history and your Russian friends will make efforts to help you understand why things are done the way they are.

The arts are avidly devoured by all sections of society - the idea that plays or classical music could be "difficult" or unpopular is rarely encountered.

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Please do not let this discourage you and always remember that this is nothing personal. 70 years of history taught people not to trust anybody and to guard their own territory.

Just recall the famous Soviet poster "Ne Boltai" (Do not Chatter) and you will understand the roots of not smiling at unfamiliar persons.

When you go to pay utility bills at a Russian bank, you may find that when it is almost your turn one or two people show up who had "reserved" a place in the line and then took care of something else at another counter or just sit down while waiting for their turn.

It is common practice to reserve a place in a line simply by telling the person in front of you "you are behind them" ("ya budu za vami").

They tend to be pushy while getting on public transport and in the metro you will find that people try to get on while others are still trying to get off.

The same applies to lines at meat and cheese counters in supermarkets, where it can be difficult to figure out where the line starts and who is there first.

Acres of print have been devoted to the topic, with no very firm conclusions.

Russians love and value going to the theatre, opera, ballet and concerts.

There is widely accepted notion in Russia that there is a "soul" that makes Russians different - a sort of sadness born of oppression that demands a different social order.

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