It is difficult to know what to expect when invited out to lunch or dinner in Russia.
The event could simply be a relationship building exercise where little if any actual business is discussed but on the other hand you can find yourself in very detailed negotiations, with pressure being applied to complete a deal.
Whatever issues are discussed, the meal is very likely to be a fairly lavish and lengthy affair with more than enough food to keep you going for the rest of the day. Try to eat heartily and express your appreciation of the food on offer, as this reflects well on the host.
Russia has always had a reputation for being a hard drinking culture and this has traditionally been true. Many Russians insist that heavy drinking sessions at business dinners are becoming a thing of the past, but you have to expect that a good deal of strong alcohol is likely to be consumed — very often during the elaborate toasting sessions that take place. Favourite drinks are vodka and Russian champagne, although beer and wine are now more common than a few years ago.
Service charges are invariably added to the bill but it is customary to leave an additional tip of around 10%.
Written and Produced by Keith Warburton
This country profile has been produced to give a short overview of some of the key concepts to bear in mind when doing business with contacts in Russia. It is intended to be an aid to business people who have commercial dealings with counterparties in the country but should not be seen as an exhaustive guide to this topic or as a substitute for more substantial research should there be a need.
With this in mind, we have covered the areas which are key to a better understanding of the cultural mindset underpinning business dealings in Russia and which are, quite often, extremely different from the approach and thought processes associated with business in other parts of the world.
Therefore this briefing note is broken into short, bite-sized sections on the following topics: