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4.6 Business practices

Business hours

The normal working days of government departments, public agencies and banks are from Monday through Friday. They are usually closed during the weekend and public holidays. Their business hours start from 9 am till 6 pm, with an one-hour break during noon time for lunch.

As regards shops, supermarkets and department stores, they usually open from Monday through Saturday, and from 10 am till 8 pm. On Sunday, however, most of the shops in small cities and suburban areas of major cities will be closed. But some shops in shopping districts of many cities, as well as food and beverages outlets, may still open on Sunday.

On the other hand, some grocery shops may have longer opening hours. Many restaurants and pubs are also open till late evening. However, it is still not yet popular for shops to open 24 hours a day. It is thus still difficult to find a convenience shop in Russia.

Religion and holidays

Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Russia. But there are also minority religions, such as Protestant and Muslim. As a result, many follow the Orthodox tradition to celebrate during different religious festivals.

Notably, the Russian Christmas follows the calendar of the Orthodox Church, i.e. 7 January instead of 25 December. Therefore, the Christmas season normally starts from end-December, i.e. New Year’s Eve till 7 January. The New Year and Christmas are usually celebrated among friends and youngsters. The New Year is celebrated on 1 January of the western calendar. In addition to this, however, many may also celebrate again on 14 January, which corresponds to 1 January in the Julian calendar that was used in Russia before 1918.

On the other hand, Military Day in February and Women’s Day in March, which are not religious in nature, are important events for family gatherings. Presents will be given to fathers/men on Military Day, and to mothers/women on Women’s Day. Unlike Western Europe, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are not popular in Russia, although they are increasingly celebrated by youngsters.

The first of May, the previous International Workers’ Solidarity Day, is now known as Spring and Labour Day. In some years, it occurs on or close to Russian Orthodox Easter, so some people celebrate in church while some attend the customary march.

In addition, Russia also has a number of other official holidays. Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 to commemorate the millions of fallen in the Second World War. 12 June is Russia’s Independence Day, which commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation in 1991, while the Day of the National Unity is the newest Russian holiday.

Public holidays in Russia

Date for 2010

Date for 2011

Event

1 January

1 January

New Year’s Day

/

3 January

New Year’s Holiday

4 January

4 January

New Year’s Holiday

5 January

5 January

New Year’s Holiday

6 January

6 January

New Year’s Holiday

7 January

7 January

Orthodox Christmas Day

8 January

/

New Year’s Holiday

22 February

/

Bridge Public Day*

23 February

23 February

Defender of the Fatherland Day

8 March

8 March

International Women’s Day

1 May

1 May

Spring and Labour Day

3 May

2 May

Spring and Labour Day Holiday

9 May

9 May

Victory Day

10 May

/

Victory Day Holiday

12 June

12 June

National Day

14 June

13 June

National Day Holiday

4 November

4 November

National Unity Day

5 November

/

Bridge Public Holiday*

Remarks: In Russia, if the date of observance of a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday will be a day off in lieu of the holiday.

* Bridge public holidays: one-off holidays declared to rationalise the non-working days near fixed-date annual public holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday. In compensation, two nearby Saturdays, 27 February and 13 November, are declared regular working days in Russia in 2010.

Source: The Central Bank of the Russian Federation

Meetings and greetings

For business meetings, Russians usually expect a formal request or invitation. This should be made in writing, either by e-mail or by fax, followed up by a courtesy phone call. Meetings are usually long, and the Russian side may also bring quite a number of related staff to attend the meeting. Despite this, it should be noted that decision-making is usually highly centralised in the hands of a few management staff. There is no surprise that personnel with the highest ranking will lead the discussion in a meeting. Hong Kong companies should thus identify the right persons capable of making decisions when negotiating with Russian companies.

Russian people prefer correspondence and meetings to be conducted in Russian. Although many Russian executives in major cities can speak very good English, they still like to have their visitors speaking in Russian. Therefore, the appointment of a Russian interpreter can create a conducive environment for business. On the other hand, Russian personnel always welcome receiving business cards from their counterparts. But it should not be expected that every Russian has his own cards to exchange with visitors. 

Travelling to Russia

When flying from Hong Kong to Moscow, passengers may consider taking the direct flight services rendered by Cathay Pacific (operating since 13 July 2010, with three flights a week departing Hong Kong every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday) and Hong Kong Airlines (operating since 30 June 2010, with three flights a week departing Hong Kong every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). The flying time is about 11 hours. If the final destination is St Petersburg, passengers have to take a transit flight from Moscow.

 

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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