Why do Russians rarely smile?

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    What is considered a smile if you are in Russia?

    How do you define a smile in Russia if you are not a native?


    I asked Russian friends this when I lived in Moscow. Their answer was that smiling for no obvious reason makes Russians suspect you're being false. (Russian society, for historical reasons*, is one in which people are distrustful of anyone they don't know; the flipside is they form very strong bonds and close friendships.)

    I was stopped by a policeman one day as I was walking down the street smiling. 'Where are you going, looking so happy?' he asked. Then he insisted on checking my documents and searching my pockets. He either thought I was on drugs, or he figured I was a foreigner and good for a shakedown.

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    * Historical reasons: a violent history with many wars and invasions; large distances and harsh weather conditions that make living an exercise in survival; and a repressive state, both under the tsars and the Soviets, in which dissidence was punished severely and anyone could be an informant.

    Source: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-Russians-rarely-smile

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