Russia is one of those countries that most people seem to have an opinion on. If you come from Finland, that opinion tends to be negative one. The other day I was discussing the ice hockey world championships with my aunt. Finland was already out of the tournament, so I informed her that in good old slavophilistic fashion I would support my usual favourites: Russia and the Czech Republic. She stubbornly insisted that we should support "our neighbours". We might have a love-hate relationship with our neighbours to the west, but Sweden is still regarded as almost family. Russia is just Russia followed by various bad words. An alien giant that might swallow you if you disagree too much.
I can see that people base their opinions on historical events, but I really cannot understand why it’s so hard to open one’s eyes and see beyond superficial stereotypes (there’s a saying in Finnish that goes something like this "Ryssä on ryssä vaikka voissa paistais", meaning "A Russian remains a Russian even if you’d fry him in butter"). It’s ridiculous. People fail to see how fantastic Russia really is: how fascinating, mysterious, and beautiful a country it is. The people are wonderful and I dare say that no other country has offered us such a cultural heritage as Russia (maybe with the exception for ancient Greece).
This thought popped up when I was learning the lyrics to the Russian national anthem on youtube. The hymn is the same one as during the Soviet period, which is a good thing, because it’s absolutely beautiful.
Or you can judge for yourselves: