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Church survives selling candles and reminder notes and charging for services such as baptizing, weddings and funerals. A couple has to register their marriage with government authorities first to be allowed to have church ceremony performed.

At the same time the majority of Russians don't have what you call in the west "good manners". Russia is quite a tough country and Russians usually do not hesitate to say what they think in a way that doesn't leave room for any misunderstandings.

During the Soviet period having "good manners" was considered as a bourgeois survival. When they meet or phone each other, they seldom spend time on questions like "How are you? They are not rude, it's just a way of doing things. Russia has the highest educational level in the world (more than 40% of the total population have college or university degree).

One can still get a university education for free by passing the entrance tests (exams), but the universities have to decrease the number of students studying on a free basis because of poor state financing.

Since both education and culture facilities used to be widely available, Russians can be considered a highly cultured nation.

People that were doing community work were given benefits (free or discounted travel, ability to buy deficit goods, ability to receive a better apartment from the government for free etc) - remember, there was no private property until Perestroika, everything used to belong to the state, which was controlling distribution and would award the most active citizens.

Unfortunately the system of volunteering was broken with Perestroika but Russians still have that great community spirit (which sometimes goes to the lengths a westerner would consider as infringement). The power of an individual in Russia is much less than in the west and most deals are pushed through family, friends and acquaintances.

The standard secondary school program includes studying of a foreign language for 6 years (grades 5-11), usually it is English but also can be French, German or Spanish.

Most subjects in the course of a secondary school are mandatory for all schools throughout the whole Russia, and only since recently there are some subjects that students can choose in addition to the general course.

This is why they maintain more friendships than an average westerner.

They often have to rely on their friends to help them out.

On the entrance exams at universities and colleges only questions from the general course of the secondary school can be asked.