Thursday, my wife and I travel to Moscow. Her brother Coen will marry Katja, a girl from Lotosjino near (160 km) Moscow. I’d better get acquanted with Russian gestures. It appears that the mano fico has another meaning: an absolute “no” to whatever question or proposal was just made. Although over here it is said to be very rude. Apparently the index-thumb-ring (as in ‘OK’ in some countries) and any shaken fist are vulgar. Winking at a girl is said to mean you think she is a prostitute. Don’t show the soles of your feet. There is some serious writing about Russian gestures, and a Dictionary.
Russians appear to be unrestrained, healthy gesturers. (source: newszine)
Update: I checked with Katja, and the fico is indeed an absolute ‘no’ and also impolite (it’s mostly a kid thing). The US-style ‘OK’ with ring-shape is fine, though not a strong convention, maybe more like they use it in Italy (described by Kendon). She also mentioned a nice ‘drinking’ gesture. It is a point to, or light tap on a spot to the side of the throat, under the chin. The history of it is that there was once a guy with a stamp at that spot who could drink for free on the czar’s orders. First they gave him a notice to show at bars, but he was such a drunk that he always lost it. Now he only needed to point at the stamp to get a drink.