For most Russians, transitioning into new democracy with its associated freedoms has not been an easy task, and for many particularly members of the older generations, the change was not a welcome one.
The failure of communism brought with it freedom that many were not prepared to exercise.
Defeated by harsh weather, a tumultuous history and the general malaise that ensued, Russians seem to value the status quo and are reluctant to change.
Security, stability, and conservatism were always held in high regard; but at the same time you will see new phenomena such as the absence of concern about the future, free spending and easy and quick adaptation of foreign practices in the younger generations in larger cities.
Many foreigners find the Russian people an enigma - surprisingly nostalgic about their past yet cautiously optimistic about the future - patient but curious about the possibilities of freedom.
As some things in Russia are almost impossible to explain, there is a very good saying that you will hear over and over again as first response to your questions: "Rossiyu umom ne ponyat" which can be translated as "Russia cannot be understood with your mind" (a quotation from the poet Tyutchev).
Russians are strong people, able to endure hardship and extreme climate with submission and patience.
Generally, Russians are very well educated and have a sound knowledge of literature, history and politics.The majority of the country's population lives in European Russia (the part of Russia lying west of the border with Siberia) with the largest population centers being Moscow and St. Most families have no more than one or two children, who are the center of the family focus.The Russian people have traditionally been molded and directed from cradle to grave, creating individuals who assumed little responsibility for themselves.They are slowly learning how to take charge of their own lives, but the chasm between the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick and the skilled and the unskilled continues to widen.Traditional Russian values and core beliefs include: love of children, respect for the old, sense of humour, strong people-orientation, importance of friendship, generosity, pride, patriotism, love of literature and arts, nostalgia, self-sacrifice, apathy, conservatism, aversion to change, caution, collectivism, pessimism and cynicism.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.