The standard secondary school program includes studying of a foreign language for 6 years (grades 5-11), usually it is English but also can be French, German or Spanish.
You know someone who knows someone who is in power; this is the way they have the things done.If you know the right people, you can have the most difficult things done with little effort.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.
But once I could find people who knew someone inside the system, a month wait would turn into just a few hours wait or they would find a place for me where they said the rules would not allow them to give me one.
They do it to ask for something to happen (a business deal, an exam) or to remember a close person who is dead.
People do not have to be a member of the church to do it and they do not have monthly contributions to the church.
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).
This is how most Russian people have developed their taste for live performances.