(1) Artists such as Vrubel, Repin, Kramskoy and Malevich - challenged the way we think about art and introduced new ways of viewing art forms
(2) Writers such as Solzhenitisyn, Dostovevsky and Tolstoy - challenged the West's rational approach to life and showed that the heart is more powerful than the head.
(3) Thinkers such as Ivan Ilyin challenged the 'western mind-set', a mind-set that believes that the western form of government is always right?
(4) Artists such as Diaghilev re-branded and democratised ballet, whilst at the same time making it appealing to the West.
(5) Composers such as Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff challenged the way we think about music
(6) Russia kept Orthodoxy alive by fulfilling it's role as protector e.g. the 'Third Rome'
(7) Russian philanthropists such as Sava Mamontov funded art with their own money. Why? Because they loved art. This tradition is still being followed by 21ST centary Russian philanthropists who are helping to keep art alive in these 'dark days' of the credit crunch.
(8) Russia helped introduce the Matryoshka dolls to the world - which ever since have put smiles on the faces of young children..
So rather than always painting Russian guys as leather clad gangsters and the women as red lip sticked prostitutes, perhaps we in the West should take our hat off to Russians for helping to re-frame the way we think about culture.