You would be right about knowing about Russia before the collapse JGW. I only knew what I've read or listened too during in the years leading up to the fall of the wall. Mind you, there was as much propaganda then as now and the picture would always be murky. No, I didn't travel to Russia. I did attend lectures from those who did as it held a certian amount of fascination about what it was like.
Worked with a lot of expat Russians. Had a shirt tail relative that traveled there after the collapse. Cashing in on the high value, low wage labor force that sprang up there overnight and has been a major supplier of hi tech components for his company.
Traveling to Russia must have been fascinating at the time. Would love to hear more about that.

I'm sorry, JGW, are you saying that it IS primarily the same as it was during the Soviet era as PIA has suggested? Do you think the type of corruption and level of graft are the same?