I am a big fan of Russian authors (Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol) but the problem is I haven't had much contact with Russians in Canada. So I've joined a couple online forums to learn more about Russia, from actual Russians.
I knew a half ukranian girl, and she had a lot of russian friends that we used to party with in Toronto, Canada. They seemed like a cool bunch. I worked with a Russian dude from Siberia as a security guard for a couple of months. He told me a lot about Russia, really nice guy. He said that Russians have a tendency to be really violent (haha) That fighting is like a national past time. All Russian males get drunk and pick fights every weekend. I thought that was pretty funny.
But recently I heard that there is a lot of racism in Russia and white-supremacist groups are targeting foreign students. Is there any truth to this or its just anti-Russian propaganda?
The other problem is that the Western media is pretty anti-Russia. (It's pretty much anti-everything that isn't Western). But that's expected. So I can't really rely on the news to know more about Russia. Since I dont know Russian, I cant read Russian papers either. (any good Russian-English papers?)
So what I really want to know is what is Russian culture really like? And is it very different from the culture that one finds described in novels like War and Peace, Brothers K., Notes, Dead Souls, The Idiot? They were pre-revolutionary. Has Russian culture changed a lot since then? Obviously it has changed, but how?