What It's Like Living A Day In The Life In Russia Right Now (2023)

Konstantinova Natalia, known on TikTok as Natasha from Russia, is a 33-year-old blogger who lives and works in St Petersburg. Amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UNILAD spoke with Natasha about what daily life is like for citizens in the country right now, and why she’s choosing to speak out despite the risks that come with it.

"Waking up on 24 February was like waking up to a nightmare. Despite what the Russian media told us, the outpour on social media revealed the truth: my country's military had entered Ukraine.

People are scared as sanctions continue to impact our economy. I’ve seen queues at ATM machines that issue foreign currency. People are desperately trying to withdraw money as the value of the ruble plummets.

As a blogger, my income comes from abroad, but I can’t get paid as our banks have stopped processing payments from PayPal.

What It's Like Living A Day In The Life In Russia Right Now (1)

This will only get worse now Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations in Russia. Many people here, including my friends and I, want to send money to our family members in Ukraine and elsewhere but we can't.

Major international shops have started to shut down such as IKEA and H&M, Apple has paused all sales in Russia, meaning Apple Pay services don't work with banks that are under sanctions right now. Car manufacturers such as Volkswagen have stopped exports and production in the country.

My dad has diabetes and we can’t find insulin in St Petersburg. Kind people from the online community have offered to send supplies, but there’s no way to receive post and vice-versa. Couriers such as DHL, UPS and FedEx have halted delivery to and from Russia and Belarus, so everything has to arrive by ship. We can’t wait the several months it would take for insulin to arrive, as it expires.

@natashasrussia

This is how our center looks nowadays.

♬ original sound - Natasha from Russia
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It’s the same situation for so many crucial services in Russia - if an X-ray machine breaks down or an engine stops working and its parts come from Europe, there’s no way to fix them.

The prices of things have been rising dramatically as a result. I saw one person post about a car that had gone from costing 1 million rubles (£6,000) to 5 million (£30,000) - it’s crazy.

Even for those who are unaware of the situation, who believe Russia is helping Ukraine, there’s no avoiding it. You jump in a taxi and hear stories about soldiers from the driver, you go to the shop and students are discussing where they can run to right now - there’s tension in the air.

When I take my daughter to school, I can see people on their phones, watching videos of the conflict.

What It's Like Living A Day In The Life In Russia Right Now (2)

Even for people like me who can see past the propaganda in the media, we didn't see it coming; we weren't expecting a conflict to break out. To witness this unfold and the pain and suffering it’s causing is just horrific.

I barely even remember the first day because I was just in shock. It was so disorientating waking up to see Russian forces bombing Ukrainian infrastructure. My friends and I experienced panic attacks; it’s like living in a nightmare that we can’t wake up from.

These feelings were amplified as people around me started to flee the country. Some left before the conflict began, especially my friends from overseas, but this just promoted investigation services to start stopping people at the borders to question them over their intentions.

They feel scared, and the same goes for Russians trying to flee - I know people who were turned away at the borders.

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They will be safe and they will be happy. This is what matters.

— Natasha from Russia 🇷🇺 (@natashasrussia) March 6, 2022

Even if I wanted to leave, the only places we can travel to right now are Turkey or the United Arab Emirates, and with so few flights going out of the country, the seats are expensive and the airports filled with queues.

Travelling by car is limited too; where I live in St Petersburg, my only options are Finland and Estonia, but both require Visas which I’m unable to access right now.

That being said, I’ve chosen to stay. Russia is my home country - my family and remaining friends are here, my daughter goes to school here.

After finding out about Russia’s operation, my friends and I decided to meet for coffee just to try and stay sane. What else were we going to do? We have to work, we have to take care of our children and we have to stay connected and try to help Ukrainians in any way we can.

What It's Like Living A Day In The Life In Russia Right Now (3)

While this is certainly unsettling to see unfold, nothing compares to the fear it creates by adding fuel to the propaganda and supporting Vladimir Putin’s goal to cut off Russian citizens from the rest of the world.

It’s been heart-wrenching to see the division amongst our society grow. An independent source says 56% of Russians support the conflict. The problem is that these people don’t know what’s happening there - they truly believe the military is freeing Ukraine from Nazis. If they knew the reality, if they were shown pictures and videos from inside Ukraine, they would join the rest of us in the resistance.

Instead they see shops shutting down, they see hate on social media, they see sanctions strangling our economy. And because all of our media is controlled by the state, this material is used as a tool to perpetuate further support for the conflict.

(Video) How Ukraine invasion is affecting life in Russia

I’ve seen posts in which Russians are being turned away from cafes and shops, kids being threatened on social media for speaking their language. By creating this division, it’s just confirming what people here are shown by state media: that the West hates Russians.

I’ve had conflicts with my own family trying to show them the truth, and it’s the same amongst my friends, but the level of censorship and control is just too strong.

In the platforms that are still running, the propaganda has been taken to a worrying new level - my feeds are filled with either messages supporting the military operation or they have been censored. The government has restricted access to Twitter, Facebook has been blocked, and independent media continues to shut down.

1) Russian society is filled with propaganda. Government controls ALL channels and they remove all free media, they loose their audience and advertisers.

— Natasha from Russia 🇷🇺 (@natashasrussia) March 4, 2022

Perhaps most symbolic of all has been the closure of Russia’s liberal radio station Ekho Moskvy (Echo of Moscow), which went into liquidation after a state censorship watchdog ordered its website to be blocked. The station was a beacon of truth, having survived the Soviet Union’s dying days even as Russia took an authoritarian turn - that it’s been taken off air amid recent events speaks volumes.

My friends and I are able to see the reality of the situation as we use a VPN, and I use my various platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, to get the message out there.

(Video) American living in Russia about invasion in Ukraine, freedom of speech and expat life

Of course, I fear for my personal safety. As a Russian living in my home country, I’m not even allowed to say the word ‘invasion’ - it’s described as a ‘military operation’. So by promoting messages against Putin’s actions and the state-run media, I risk being detained.

@natashasrussia Reply to @danktiger936 the truth is that we were trapped today, but managed to get out of there. #behindthescenes ♬ original sound - Natasha from Russia

A number of my friends have already been detained for protesting in St Petersburg. Even before the conflict, protesting was restricted - you have to get permission from the state.

Over the weekend I attended a demonstration and saw roads blocked by vehicles, police on every corner - the atmosphere was very tense.

Yet I take part in the protests for the same reason I want to share my truth - I refuse to be silenced in light of such atrocity. And I want people to know of my identity so that should something happen to me, at least they will know why.

My heart goes out to the Ukrainians who are suffering right now - it’s hard to see a future and I fear the worst is yet to come. But tackling hate with hate will get us nowhere. Right now we need solidarity, and I will continue to share this message until we wake up from this nightmare."

Disclaimer: The words 'war' and 'invasion' are outlawed in Russia in relation to the Ukraine conflict

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, clickherefor more information

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FAQs

What is it like to live in Russia today? ›

Life in Russia can be quite challenging. The climate is harsh and many cities have high levels of pollution. There is also a relatively high crime rate and a number of security issues to take into consideration.

Is Russia a good place to live right now? ›

Crime rates in Russia are dropping and have decreased substantially over the past two decades. As a result, expats will feel safe in Russia. Despite decreasing crime rates, one must always be aware of the risks of mugging and petty crime.

How is the lifestyle in Russia? ›

Russian culture is non-individualistic. The power of an individual in Russia is much less than in the west and most deals are pushed through family, friends and acquaintances. A famous Russian saying is, "One is not a soldier in the battlefield." In Russia, it is necessary to know people in power to make things work.

Do Russians have good quality of life? ›

Russia may be known for great culture, world-class great museums and home to one of the world's most charming cities in St. Petersburg, but its overall quality of life score is 86.27, putting it on par with its cultural rivals in Ukraine.
...
Russia Quality Of Life Indicators Worse Than China's.
AmerikantsyRussians
Pollution Index:31.3263.52
7 more rows
19 Mar 2017

Is it better to live in the US or Russia? ›

Looking at indicators such as income, life expectancy, freedom to make decisions and social support, the US ranked 18th of 156 countries, while Russia was 59th.

How much is a gallon of milk in Russia? ›

Cost of Living in Russia
RestaurantsEdit
Coke/Pepsi (12 oz small bottle)68.92руб
Water (12 oz small bottle)35.80руб
MarketsEdit
Milk (regular), (1 gallon)290.38руб
62 more rows

How much is a can of Coke in Russia? ›

The price is 1.25 USD. The average price for all countries is 0.92 USD. The database includes 92 countries.
...
Russia - Coca-Cola - price, June 2022.
Russia - Coca-Cola - price, June 2022
EUR1.248
2 more rows

How much is a loaf of bread in Russia? ›

Definitions
STATRussia
Prices at markets > Loaf of bread > Fresh, white$0.68 Ranked 111th.
Prices at markets > Milk > 1 litre$1.11 Ranked 98th. 12% more than United States
Prices at markets > Rice > White, 1kg$1.22 Ranked 106th.
Prices at markets > Water > 1.5 litre bottle$0.88 Ranked 79th.
35 more rows

What do Russians do in their free time? ›

On weekends many Russian people simply spend time at home: they watch TV, read books or do housework that has accumulated during the week. Young people play computer games, communicate in social media or just “surf” the Internet.

Do people in Russia live in houses or apartments? ›

According to Russian Public Opinion Research Center 65 percent of Russians live in apartments, 31 percent in a private house and 4 percent in dormitories. The share of Russians who own an apartment or a house is relatively high and amounts to about 54 percent.

Is life cheap in Russia? ›

Expats in Russia will find the cost of living to be reasonable. In Mercer's Cost of Living survey for 2021, Moscow was ranked 62nd out of 209 cities, while St Petersburg was ranked 119th. Although Russia cannot be regarded as a cheap country to live in, as a whole, it is more affordable than many western countries.

What is considered rude in Russia? ›

Hugs, backslapping, kisses on the cheeks and other expansive gestures are common among friends or acquaintances and between members of the same sex. Russians stand close when talking. Putting your thumb through your index and middle fingers or making the "OK" sign are considered very rude gestures in Russia.

Do people own property in Russia? ›

Generally, any individual, regardless of his or her citizenship, can acquire residential property in Russia. There is no direct ban on foreigners owning residential property anywhere in the country.

How much does the average Russian citizen make? ›

Wages in Russia averaged 17758.35 RUB/Month from 1990 until 2022, reaching an all time high of 77994.00 RUB/Month in December of 2021 and a record low of 0.00 RUB/Month in February of 1990.

Who is richer USA or Russia? ›

The United States, by contrast, has a nominal GDP of $20.89 trillion—roughly 14 times the size of Russia's economy. And nominal GDP per capita is $63,413. Even three U.S. states have larger GDPs than Russia: California ($3.1 trillion), Texas ($1.78 trillion) and New York ($1.7 trillion).

Do Russians own their own houses? ›

In the long-term, the Russia Home Ownership Rate is projected to trend around 84.00 percent in 2023 and 83.00 percent in 2024, according to our econometric models.

How much does the average house cost in Russia? ›

CharacteristicPrice in thousand Russian rubles per square meter
Moscow300.38
Sochi241.84
Saint Petersburg210.21
Kazan148.59
9 more rows
6 Sept 2022

How much do eggs cost in Russia? ›

The price is 1.34 USD. The average price for all countries is 2.43 USD.
...
Russia - Eggs - price, June 2022.
Russia - Eggs - price, June 2022
RUB82.190
USD1.336
EUR1.341

What is minimum wage in Russia? ›

What is minimum wage in Russia? Minimum Wages in Russia increased to 15279 RUB/Month (243.792 USD/Month) in 2022. The maximum rate of minimum wage for employees was 12792 RUB/Month and minimum was 132 RUB/Month. Data published Yearly by Federal State Statistics Service.

How much is a Big Mac in Russia? ›

In Russia, the burger would usually cost 135 roubles, or around $1, according to The Economist's Big Mac index.

How much is a gallon of gas in Russia? ›

For comparison, the average price of gasoline in the world for this period is 114.89 Russian Rouble. Use the drop menu to see the prices in gallons.
...
Russia Gasoline prices, 31-Oct-2022.
Russia Gasoline pricesLitreGallon
USD0.8363.165
EUR0.8463.202
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Do Russian citizens pay taxes? ›

Income tax rates in Russia

As of January 2021, tax residents pay a 13% tax rate on an annual income of up to 5 million p. Income above this limit is subject to 15% taxes. Meanwhile, Russian-sourced income is taxed at 30% for non-residents.

How much does a pack of cigs cost in Russia? ›

Price Rankings by Country of Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro) (Markets)
1.Australia25.47 $
69.Russia3.15 $
70.Kuwait3.06 $
71.Bosnia And Herzegovina3.04 $
72.Bulgaria3.02 $
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How much is $100 US in Russia? ›

6122.50000

Are groceries cheap in Russia? ›

Life for expats in Russia is generally comfortable, with expenses such as groceries and utility bills being fairly inexpensive even in major cities such as Moscow. Outside of the major metropolitan areas, prices are even cheaper, with lower bills for food and transportation.

What is considered rich in Russia? ›

HNWIs in Russia

Approximately 0.2 percent of Russian adults, or 311.9 thousand residents, owned over one million U.S. dollars, or were referred to as high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). In 2021, the total wealth of the adult population in the country reached nearly 3.8 trillion U.S. dollars.

Can Americans live in Russia? ›

Permanent Residence: Foreign citizens intending to permanently reside in Russia can obtain a permanent residence permit (vid na zhitelstvo) valid for five years that may be extended an unlimited number of times. Foreigners may apply for it at the local FMS based on their at least one-year residence in Russia.

What is the safest place to live in Russia? ›

But if you need a little help narrowing down your options, these are some of the best places to live in Russia.
  • Moscow. The capital of Russia and a city full of history, Moscow is the top choice for many expats who move to Russia. ...
  • St. Petersburg. ...
  • Sochi. ...
  • Nizhny Novgorod. ...
  • Yekaterinburg. ...
  • Krasnodar. ...
  • Tyumen.
4 May 2022

Is Russia a cold place to live? ›

In certain inhabited parts of Russia, Scandinavia, and North America, temperatures regularly dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit; some have even seen minus 80, 90, or 100. It's difficult to pin down the "coldest" places on earth because climate is dynamic.

How much is the average home in Russia? ›

CharacteristicPrice in thousand Russian rubles per square meter
Moscow300.38
Sochi241.84
Saint Petersburg210.21
Kazan148.59
9 more rows
6 Sept 2022

How much does rent cost in Russia? ›

Summary of cost of living in Russia
Food
Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 sqft) furnished studio in expensive areaруб 39,955
Monthly rent for a 45 m2 (480 sqft) furnished studio in normal areaруб 26,400
Utilities 1 month (heating, electricity, gas ...) for 1 person in 45 m2 (480 sqft) studioруб 4,939
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Can a Russian citizens leave Russia? ›

A Russian citizen can be subject to temporary restrictions on leaving Russia. These restrictions can be only temporary.

Do Russians get free housing? ›

when the Russian Federation passed legislation allowing residents of municipal, federal and state-owned industry housing to purchase their units virtually free.

What is the most common crime in Russia? ›

Economic crimes like theft and fraud are the most common categories of crime in Russia.

Where is the most crime in Russia? ›

By City in Russia
RankCityCrime Index
1Rostov-na-donu53.18
2Novosibirsk47.56
3Yekaterinburg46.25
4Saint Petersburg39.61
2 more rows

What city in Russia has the most crime? ›

1. Moscow. Not surprisingly, Russia's capital city Moscow starts off our list of the most dangerous cities in the country.

How do Russians survive winter? ›

Warm trousers, a scarf or a high warm collar as well as comfortable and warm winter shoes will allow you to stay outdoors for a long time, even in extreme frost. Wind-resistant winter jacket, warm hat, and thermal gloves will let you stay warm. Do not forget to close up and tuck the gloves into the sleeves. Done!

How do people survive Russian winter? ›

People wear warm clothes and shoes inside. To go to sleep you wear a hat! I never froze so much than during our winter trip to Europe! So as you might guess, there's a central heating in every Russian town, so temperature does not fall below 20 C degrees.

Is Russia colder than Canada? ›

Russia has more land area whereas Canada has more maritime exposure, so it's clear that the former has colder land areas. More than 60% of the land in Russia is permafrost. As for records, the lowest is in Russia at -71.2 degrees Celsius. The record low in Canada is -63 degrees Celsius.

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