There won't by any other Russian idea or brand, or anything from Russia that would be as sellable as Russian Winter.
Russian Winter equals health. Its rosy cheeks, its energy, excitement, freshness. Heat, meanwhile, is lazy, sleepy and slow. Picture: The Siberian Times
This is what I've been thinking through, skiing down Ivan Mountain (in the Urals). To be exact, I started to think about it on the way from Ulan-Ude to Baikal, where there was so much of snow it reached your chin. I kept thinking it at Khokhlovka - the Wooden Architecture and Carving Open Air Museum in Perm Region. I kept thinking it walking about the Ice Town in Perm - and during Ivan Mountain skiing with my daughter.
Russian Winter has it all - the tourist brand and all those Russia identity ideas put in one.
First of all Russian Winter is really cool. Believe me - I've been to Jamaica and Goa, Maldives and Jordan. I've been to Venice, China, Italy and France - and the impression you get from the winter is so much mightier! Given modern day technologies to keep warm like thermal underwear, intelligent room heating and winter coats that keep you warm all day long, you feel no discomfort at all.
Second - it is unbelievably beautiful. Even some ugly Russian architectural attempts to do something 'a la Russe' cannot spoil the fantastic beauty of a city covered with snow, snowy mountains and fields.
Third, Russian Winter equals health. Its rosy cheeks, its energy, excitement, freshness. Heat, meanwhile, is lazy, sleepy and slow.
Ivan Mountain near Perm can easily compete with the variety of games and entertainments to the world's coolest aqua park - and with minimum investment, since the main building material - the snow - is lying around in tons.
On one hand, Russian Winter is outside politics - on another it, it helped us fight Frenchmen and Germans. So it is quite a patriotic brand, which brings all other typical Russian things with it.
What does Russian vodka do? It warms you up. Where is the best to jump after the Russian banya? Into a snowbank. And so on - Russian glow, Russian snow hills, winter games.
We can turn snowy Russian Winter to match the Mediterranean Sea in Turkey, or the ruins of various cultural objects in Italy.
It might become a bright attractive image, our unique selling point.
To cut it short - we've got to learn how to sell snow. We've got more snow than oil and gas. I was quite stunned by Baikal officials complaining how short summer season is, only two months. But take it from me, and for me its much more interesting to be here in winter.
There are no competitors for us here, we have got endless possibilities with space and variety of natural landscapes. We can't be taking the Finns as competitors!
Winter can benefit our science, too: we have a huge market for energy saving building and textile technologies. Take warm clothes made in Russia - I don't mean valenki (felt snow boots), though they can be on offer as souvenirs. I am talking modern stylish and science-intensive clothes.
I am absolutely confident now that there will not be any other Russian idea or Russian brand to compete with Russian Winter.
Everything else will fall in place.
Read Marat Gelman's column on Echo of Moscow in Russian: http://echo.msk.ru/blog/marat_gelman/986074-echo/
His whiskers were caked in frost after he had sheltered for warmth under a car in the Urals city of Zlatoust - video.
Photographer Svetlana Kazina shows off washing day in the Altai Mountains - and her loo roll with frostbite!
Painful reality and emotional 'forgiveness' after Tomsk man tracks down modern relatives of his ancestor's NKVD secret police killer.