The relationship between Russia and Italy

Where were you on New Year’s Eve? Probably at home. What did you watch on TV?
In Russia millions of people turned on the show “Ciao2020!” broadcast in the Ivan Urgant Late Night Show. What was that about and why is it a proof of the relationship between Russia and Italy?

The most important late night show in Russia presented, on occasion of New Year’s Eve, a show performed by the most important Russian artists completely in Italian where using  Italian and Russian stereotypes, emotions and cultural expressions they recreated a soft and funny content. The show started with this idea: “Due to covid19, people couldn’t come to visit us and we couldn’t see each other, so we wanna bring a little bit of Italy to your house, because everybody loves Italians.” (Watch the video at 0:55)

Do you know that between Russia and Italy there is a relationship? And that Russian people love Italian culture and Italian people love Russian culture? Is that true? And why is that? Well, it is an historical friendship based on admiration and respect. As they say, Russian people are able to understand the Italian temperament and Italian people are able to understand the “mysterious side” of Russian people. So the answer is yes, there is a relationship between Russia and Italy, but why?

How much do you know about  Russia? What do you need to know to do business in Russia?

If you are thinking about doing business in Russia you have to take into consideration these important aspects of the Russian culture and territory and some cultural dimensions that can help you to better fit in the Russian society. First of all, it is important to have in mind that Russia is located both in Europe and Asia (Eurasia) and it’s the largest country in the world with different climate zones that range from the Arctic to the subtropical (Sochi). It is also important to consider the diversity of the Russian population. There is an ethnically diverse population with over 190 ethnic groups that speak their own native languages. Another important point to consider is religion: the majority of the Russian population is Christian Orthodox but you can also find other Christians, Muslims and Buddhists throughout Russia.

If you are negotiating with a Russian counterpart, you need to understand that it is important to build interpersonal relationships based on trust using a friendly approach. It’s part of their culture to organize informal meetings in order to know each other personally and build a strong relationship during the negotiations.


First of all, you need to take into account the Power distance dimension. In Russian society there is a strong hierarchical role separation based on a top-down approach. This means that if you are the boss you will negotiate directly with the boss and only the boss because he/she is the only one to have the power to make decisions. When you talk to them be sure to remember the name and the patronymic (the middle name that they have that tells you who their father is). Be aware to never use only the patronymic because it could be offensive!


Secondly, considering the Uncertainty Avoidance dimension. Russian people are very direct and precise because they don’t feel comfortable in ambiguous and not clear situations. Punctuality is a must in Russian culture. They are very confident to reach their goals. Russians don’t like to waste time and want to go straight to the point. They are well educated and well prepared in negotiations with a lot of experience in the field and are very demanding, so be prepared to answer definite and accurate questions. The most important resource that you need is patience. The negotiation could become a little bit spicy and then you have to face the complex bureaucracy that Russian system has. It’s like a chess game. Remember, it’s not a competition but a win- win situation!


Lastly, you need to consider the Indulgence and Restraints dimension. Russian culture is a restrained culture and it tends to be characterized by pessimism and cynicism. For example, in Russian culture, showing happiness with a smile is considered unnatural and inappropriate. In Italy instead, for example,  they smile all the time. They fear all the time that foreign people don’t like. They are generally not comfortable in leaving Russia and living somewhere else because they are afraid to find a hostile environment.

In addition to these cultural dimensions you have to take into consideration that, in the Russian society you will find nowadays three different generations: the “soviet generation”, “post-soviet generation” (post 1991) and “the millennials” (from 2000s).

If you are doing business in Russia you will surely deal with the soviet generation or the post-soviet generation. The soviet one is formed by top professionals and really rigid businessmen. The post-soviet one instead is the generation of Russia’s newest workers, entrepreneurs and professionals. They are young people plugged into global trends and they are more interconnected within and between their local communities. And then, we have the Millennials generation that is more open to change.

Be aware and respect these fundamental aspects of the Russian culture and territory. You will find Russia a wonderful place where you can do business, appreciating that the strong sense of hospitality and generosity of the Russian people and their sense of community. They are always there to help you.

Do you want to know more about other cultures and cultural dimensions?

Check our articles:

Emily in Paris, between stereotypes and cultural dimensions

How to communicate effectively across cultures