What if you are planning Moscow and St Petersburg tours? Will anyone understand you and help at all?
In most cases, it is better to ask young people for help in English. It is not 100% probability that you will get the answer in excellent English, but they will definitely try to help. English is taught in every Russian school, but we have not yet found the right balance between grammar and practice. In hotels, popular restaurants and major museums, there is always someone who can give you a detailed answer, advise and guide.
How do Russians say Hello: "Zdravstvuite" - it's formal, you say it to a stranger, "Privet" (easier, right?) if it is someone young or your friend.
It will be very good if you learn how to say thank you: "Spasiba" There is some consonance with the word "spicy".
You don't want to buy anything from a street vendor - then say no, I don't need it: "Net, ne nado" or just "Net, spasiba".
If you are agree you say yes as "Da", very often we even repeat it or say longer like "Da-a" / "Da-da". Yes, please: "Da, pozjaluista".
Where is ...? : "Gde nahoditsya .."
You are agree and everything goes well, say good: "Horosho".
How much does it cost? : "Skolko stoit?". Too expensive, ask a discount "Skidka?"
One of the tricks of the Russian language is the way of pronunciation, the question should sound like a question, the typical English scheme is not required here.
Saying goodbye: "Do svidania" or "Poka" (more informal).
Driving around the city with my tourists, I always explain 2 words that are everywhere. "Ресторан" is a restaurant, a French word that is even pronounced almost in the French manner. And the word "Стоп", which means a stop line at a traffic light.
For a joke, my tourists once have learned the word "Gopnik". This is a slang word of the Russian language that denotes representatives of the urban stratum of low social status, poorly educated and without moral values, consisting of aggressive youth (teenagers), possessing criminal behavior traits (less often close to the criminal world), often coming from unfavorable families, and uniting on the basis of counterculture (informal subculture).
Why the Russian language is so different and when it was born, I will tell you next time.
In St. Petersburg and Moscow it is not so easy to get lost, street names often have an English transcription under the Russian name, and this is mandatory in the metro.
In fact, visiting these two major Russian cities, you should be more concerned about your wallet than about security and the language barrier. With money, everything is simple - do not put it in the back pocket of your jeans and be careful in crowded places: typical places for pickpockets are queues to museums, the subway. But these recommendations are universal for any big tourist city.