Intellectually, Russians are interesting people to talk to and enjoy deep subjects.
Philosophy is still a mandatory subject when you study for a degree and one of the 3 compulsory subjects for Ph D qualifying exam (the other 2 are foreign language and the specialty itself).
Their general knowledge is very good: they know a little bit about virtually everything.
At secondary schools, they study not only the history of Russia but also the world history, including American and European history.
At the same time the majority of Russians don't have what you call in the west "good manners". Russia is quite a tough country and Russians usually do not hesitate to say what they think in a way that doesn't leave room for any misunderstandings.
During the Soviet period having "good manners" was considered as a bourgeois survival. When they meet or phone each other, they seldom spend time on questions like "How are you? They are not rude, it's just a way of doing things. Russia has the highest educational level in the world (more than 40% of the total population have college or university degree).
They often have to rely on their friends to help them out.Russians are also big fond of live performances at theatres and since tickets are affordable (prices in cinemas and theatres are comparable), they enjoy attending theatres: opera, musical, ballet, drama etc. The theatre culture was developed during the Soviet times when tickets were sold through schools and enterprises: cities were divided into areas and there was a theatre agent responsible for each particular area.The agent would bring tickets for distribution to every enterprise and school in his area and the person responsible for "culture sector" would organize collective visit to the theatre.Russian saying is, "One is not a soldier in the battlefield".In Russia, one still needs to know people in power to make things work.In my life, a few times I ran into dead ends where there was nothing I could do in the straightforward way; the people were right to refuse me, according to the official rules.