Russia’s Foreign Ministry is encouraging its citizens to avoid making sexist jokes in Canada, touching people’s heads in Thailand, and calling Jewish people by a derogatory slur in Israel.
In an advisory, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a list of travel recommendations it encourages citizens to follow when visiting other countries. The United States is mysteriously missing from the list.
The recommendations start out reasonably enough (“respect customs and traditions”) but then get progressively more mind-bending (“do not use the insulting hand gestures commonly featured in Hollywood films”).
Here are 10 of the strangest ways Russians were told to behave when traveling abroad:
- Reuters/Charles Platiau
In France, it is best to “avoid any behavior toward women that might be regarded as an act of ‘sexism.'”
Along with not reacting to members of the LGBT community, Russians are told to not “demonstrate disrespect for the French language”, “try to ‘teach a lesson’ to French people in Russian” or “get angry that locals don’t understand you.”
- Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters
When visiting Egypt, it is “absolutely unacceptable to compare people to any animals, even in a joking manner,” the Ministry warns.
- Flickr/Desrie Govender
In order to avoid cultural awkwardness, Russians are told to learn how a particular Spaniard feels about various soccer teams prior to conversation.
They’re also warned that “negative attitudes toward people of nonstandard sexual orientation will not be well-received.”
- REUTERS/Trish Badger
The Ministry thinks that Canada has a “serious obsession with gender equality.” Lewd jokes and quips could be met with “a fine or even felony charges for ‘hate crimes.'”
The recommendations also advise Russians not to confuse Canada with the United States. “Although foreigners are often difficult to distinguish one from another,” the Ministry writes, “a Canadian citizen may be very offended for comparing his country with the United States.”
“It is inadmissible to use the word ‘zhid’ (kike) when addressing any Jewish person, even if he doesn’t understand Russian,” the Ministry warns Russian travelers to Israel.
- Anthony Lassman
Russians were also warned that “comparing Kenyans to monkeys or questioning their mental abilities could cause a very strong negative reaction.”
Brits are big on nonverbal communication, writes Russia’s Foreign Ministry.
Along with avoiding the “highly offensive raised middle finger,” Russians are told that raising the middle and index finger folded together in the air means ‘Just you wait. I’ll get you!'”
- Shutterstock/Champasak, Laos
On visits to Laos, Russians are advised not to “stretch out your feet, showing off the soles of your shoe” because it “seems insulting.”
- Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters
“Under no circumstances should you touch or rub the head of a Thai person,” the Ministry advises.
- Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images
In Finland, certain common last names (Huitu, Hujala, Hujanen) coincide with a popular Russian swear used to refer to male genitalia.
The Ministry warns citizens that “your reaction to these last names needs to be calm.”