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In Russia, The Suspicious Meaning Of A Simple Smile

Our correspondent dissects the famous lack of overt politeness in Russian society. But things may be getting a bit more pleasant, thank you very much.

Smiles are not universally appreciated
Smiles are not universally appreciated
Marie Jego

MOSCOW - Is it because it's so difficult to pronounce the Russian word for "hello," (zdravstvouite) that it does not come to mind easily? When said to a neighbor, the word usually receives no answer, not even a nod. Thus, the writer of this article, who has been living in the same Moscow building for more than five years, had to wait two whole years before she got a real hello, or a little shake of the head from her neighbors.

A smile is something even more unusual. In Russia, smiling is often interpreted as a sign of weakness, or even worse, as a sign of a possible request about to come. So something generally good to know: the already suspicious Muscovite will be all the more so is he sees you with a big smile on your face.

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A man speaks on the phone as the oil refinery of Lysychansk in the Luhansk region, Ukraine, burns in the background

Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet and Bertrand Hauger.

👋 வணக்கம்!*

Welcome to Monday, where Anthony Albanese is sworn in as Australia's new prime minister, a verdict is in for the first war crimes trial in Ukraine and the food & energy industrials get outrageously richer. In Colombian daily El Espectador, María Mónica Monsalve Sánchez explores how Colombia is toeing the line between carbon-offsetting and unabashed greenwashing.

[*Vanakkam, Tamil - India]

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