We learned how these organizations cater to the Russian market and how they must adapt their business strategies.
One executive told us that Russia is a “lousy place to do business but a great place to make money.”
He also said there are no rights in Russia but rather a “series of permissions.”
It is interesting that it is rare to see Russians smiling, if ever. They find smiling in public an odd behavior.
VENICE OF THE NORTH
We later visited St. Petersburg, where we enjoyed our fair share of culture at places like the State Hermitage Museum and Mariinsky Theater.
St. Petersburg is absolutely beautiful — it is the Venice of the North, with its numerous canals weaving in and out of the city. It is an amalgamation of German, French and Italian architecture, a mixture of influences and opulence on a grand scale.
The final component of our trip, like last year, was to raise money for a charitable foundation. Kitzeh Children’s Community in Kaluga was selected this year. It is a community two hours from Moscow, where orphaned and abandoned children are given a second chance away from state-run facilities and the temptations of a big city.
Every child we met appeared to be happy and thriving. It is gratifying to be able to give back to an organization that is successfully achieving its mission.
We hope to raise $20,000 by the end of March. For more information and to donate, visit http://blogs.mcgill.ca/desautels-hotcities.
Russians are strong people who look for strong leaders, as we can clearly see throughout history.
A shocking BBC report recently stated on the 60th anniversary of Stalin’s death that around half of Russians felt Stalin was a “positive figure” for the country. This view can be somewhat understood because many reports, and many Russians to whom we spoke, indicated that there is no official state view of Stalin. The facts get lost.