Nudism in Russia!
I've been to three beaches:
1. in Moscow (Stroginskaya floodplain)
2. in the Crimea (Pic. Koktebel)
3. in Rostov-on-Don, behind the water park on the M4 Don highway
In Moscow, I discovered nudism for myself in general - a wonderful place far from the curious + an atmosphere of silence and nature!
In Crimea, a nudist beach is located almost in the middle of the local textile beach. Everything is fine - but it is very crowded, there is no privacy, nature is super, it is located among the mountains practically, the views are beautiful.
In Rostov-on-Don, fragments of information found on the internet led me to this beach, organized by enthusiasts independently and at their own expense.
The place is good, but judging by the fact that the erected temporary buildings are demolished by some alcoholics in the absence of visitors to the beach - not very pleasant.
Sorry for interrupting, but by international country law the Crimea isn't part of Russia, but of Ukraine. Russia did occupy and annex the peninsula in 2014 by armed forces breaking international law. See UN resolution 68/262.
My wife told the story of how, on a holiday to the Black Sea, the train passed alongside very a densely-populated nude beach. That would be different for me as I'm used to room in such an environment!
I am used to the crowds. Gunnison, the only clothing optional beach in New Jersey is often crowded. Now that I am retired, I never go on weekends and avoid the worst crowds. It is reasonably busy during the week, but not as crowded.
My nudist experience in Russia was in an all male Russian Bath in St Petersburg on my 55th birthday. I was the only one not speaking Russian. Everyone was nude, no towels around waists. All ages. I did regret not having someone to beat me with water soaked branches.
Most likely it was on the way to Sochi (in the area from Dederka to Adler, the railway runs along the coast). On the Internet, you can often see photos from these places, mainly the area: Sputnik, Lazarevsky, Loo, Vardane, Dagomys, as well as Hosta.
Russia sounds a bit like Finland and Sweden to me in that there is a traditional culture of social nudity in the banyas/saunas/bath houses, commonly segregated but also mixed, but people don't often identify as nudists. The oak branches are excellent for circulation and nothing will make you cleaner from inside your pores out as such a bath. I also am fortunate to live in an area of the US with a lot of Russians, Poles and Ukrainians who have traditionally mixed. They also have opened their own baths for socializing which are open to the non-Eastern European population as well. The elephant in the room remains the war in Ukraine. I am not sure if the local Ukrainians and Russians are still friends or not. Both populations are sufffering horribly, and it must be very difficult to be a 31 year old Russian male in Russia today. 2024 will soon be here and hopefully it will bring an end to the war!
Regarding the baths, I completely agree with your opinion. Especially regarding self-identification - it's just part of the culture.
A life story. Once, when we were students, we gathered in a mixed company in a sauna. At the same time, nothing bothered anyone about the idea. At first it was the same as always: jokes, music, beer. Then we went to the steam room. And then at first we decided that the guys should find out how hot it is there. Everything was checked - normal. The girls came next. Everything seems to be fine. After that, some of them already wanted to stay at the table - the other wanted to go to the steam room. And then the girls without a second thought went to the steam room in towels and swimsuits. To which they received surprised exclamations from us: "How so?"
And being slightly embarrassed, they asked me to stay like this. Whatever we do, let them stay. But it lasted exactly 2 minutes. first, the swimsuits were "removed" under the towel, and then the towel itself.
I don't know where, but we took either a cold shower or an ice font after the steam room (usually a swimming pool). That's where the girls stopped being shy.