As these vessels exercise the right to call themselves Russian, they must, without regard to their flag, have a Russian captain on board. But this captain is a man of straw, employed only to act according to imperial will. It is generally an unfortunate man, to whom the owner allows a'small monthly pay, on condition that he will do nothing on board, not even in the caboose, from the fact that he is not fit for any thing. When the vessel loses sight of land, the real command is given to a foreign officer, or to a Finlander, and the past captain is requested to do any thing excepting what concerns the ship.
Frédéric Lacroix: The mysteries of Russia