A top government psychiatrist on Thursday gave a glowing assessment of the mental ability of Russians to weather the economic crisis saying they were better off than their American or British counterparts.
Tatyana Dmitriyeva, head of the state-run Serbsky Research Centre for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, said the experience of Soviet collapse and a financial crisis in 1998 meant Russians had developed a toughness lacking in Westerners.
"The Russian population is entering the crisis in a state of mental equilibrium and with great experience of the previous crisis" while Americans "are experiencing the stress of financial losses" and Britons "are losing their homes," she said at a news conference.
Russians have understood "spiritual values are more precious than material ones," she said.
She also praised the traditional values of Russia's strife-torn North Caucasus region, claiming suicide rates there were low "because the people... preserve the tradition of big patriarchal families."
Rather than resorting to alcohol, the traditional Russian standby, Russians should concentrate on sport, social activities and time with their families, she said.
Russians have experienced a sharp devaluation of the national currency, a drying-up of credit and rising joblessness in the current crisis, even though politicians here insist the country will emerge relatively unscathed.
Dmitriyeva said that suicide rates in Russia had dropped significantly since the 1990s, falling from 41.2 per 100,000 residents on average in 1995 to 29 per 100,000 in 2007.
She also said less than 10 percent of calls made to a hotline run by her institute offering psychological help related to the economic crisis.