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Innocents Abroad


From a guide to “common principles of behavior” recommended to Russian tourists visiting foreign countries. The guide was released by the Russian Foreign Ministry in March. Translated from the Russian by Stefan Kielbasiewicz. 

spain: To avoid embarrassing situations, keep in mind Spaniards’ support of or opposition to local soccer clubs.

france: Russians who do not speak French are strongly advised to ask for Russian-language menus. Attempting to pronounce the names of dishes in French can lead to a conflict. 

finland: There are Finnish last names that sound obscene in Russian, e.g., Huitu, Hujala, Hujanen. Your reaction to these names must be calm. 

japan: Avoid prolonged eye contact, as it is considered a sign of aggression. 

mongolia: If a person steps on another person’s foot, the former must apologize and shake hands with the latter. 

uzbekistan: When talking, do not abuse or insult your listener’s mother.

egypt: It is absolutely unacceptable to compare a person to an animal. 

thailand: Do not touch or caress a Thai person’s head under any circumstances.

canada: Refrain from expressing emotion when dealing with the opposite sex in order to avoid accusations of sexual harassment. 

senegal: While walking in the streets, avoid stumbling over beggars, the homeless, or the sick. 

kenya: Avoid comparing a Kenyan to a monkey or making an unflattering judgment on his mental capacity by tapping one finger against your forehead during conversation. 

china: Remind your listener that you are from Russia to place yourself in a positive light.