Russia from the perspective of a neighbour

On a dozen expeditions to various Russian regions (stating from 2008), I conducted fieldword observing different Finno-Ugric nations, and Estonian communities or former Estonian territories in mostly Leningrad and Pskov oblast.
The current selection displays 130 pictures of Siberia, Pskov oblast, Leningrad oblast, Komi Republic and Karelia. I have spent splendid time during my expeditions, having by now a severe addiction to new trips and encounters.

How I would describe Russia if it were a person?
– You probably know this type of person: overwhelmingly charming, with a big heart, but conversely, once in a while experiences emotional struggles. However, you never get bored while spending time together: literally every moment is full of surprises and contrasts. Of course, an important part of the pleasure is the fact that all your interaction is the matter of your choice: despite being symphatetic, you would not want to share an apartment with them all the time.

People ask me all time, as I seem to travel there so often, if I have any Russian roots?
As far as I know, I do not have any roots with Russia and most of my family connections have rather painful connections: many of my close relatives spent a decade of their lives as deportees in Siberia or in a labor camp during the Stalinist period. However, those who survived, shared with me also overwhelmingly positive stories about the kindness of ordinary Russian people.
So, despite the current political developments, which worry me, I just can not escape contradicting and yet mostly warm feelings and thoughts.

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