The sad truth is—modern Russians have very little to be proud of.
Living off the remains of the Soviet culture, Russians hold on to the cute little stereotypes they force onto themselves as identity. They are no big fans of their own history, ashamed of their oil-based economy, unhappy and dissatisfied. That’s why they might be finding some solace in brown bears, caviar, vodka, khokhloma and matreshkas. Ironically, those are the things most of them never encounter throughout their lives. Especially bears.
So there is no surprise in a growing interest towards everything stereotypically Russian among Russians themselves. They become increasingly fond of those shallow little symbols. See their eyes light up when talking to foreigners: “You must be thinking we are all drinking vodka with bears.”
Russians love this pathetic symbolism. For what it’s worth, they really have nothing else to identify themselves with. Even if they have to do it through the dolesome ironic grin.
Sometimes it turns out cute (and quirky).