July 01, 2014

A Kiss is Still a Kiss

A Kiss is Still a Kiss

At a Moscow mall, two college students clasped hands across a table, folding their fingers over the back of each other’s hand, then did an American-style fist bump.

“It’s typical for us to greet each other this way,” said Azat Nagimov as he demonstrated the greeting with fellow 20-year-old Vanya Lyovkin.

More than three decades ago, Soviet Union General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev got a kiss on the lips from East German leader Erich Honecker. A news photograph of the moment took on a life of its own, cementing Brezhnev’s reputation as a smooching statesman, and creating a stereotype of Russian men as lip-lockers. Russian men ranging from their 20s to their 60s to their 80s, however, say the stereotype is far from reality.*

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