18 Interesting Facts about Russia, and Russians (for Brits)

Next year, Russia will host the World Cup, 21st of the competition, some of us English will go there. And the Scots may even make it. Possibly the Welsh. Bit unlikely now.  We’ll see.

Anyway, be honest, what do you really know about Russia, the world’s largest country? Maybe not that much? Or maybe quite a lot? Well, in any case, here’s 18 facts, in honour of 2018, prefixed by interesting above, because I think they’re interesting. Hope you share that:

  1. Russia is bordered by 14 countries. From Norway to China. Only China is bordered by more countries, 16.
  2. There is a Russian word for ‘hello’ – Zdravstvuyte – but when Russians answer the phone, they say ‘allo‘. It sounds quite cool 🙂
  3. You know our most infamous military defeat, The Charge of the Light Brigade, that happened in …. Russia. Balaclava, Crimea, no less.
  4. Red Square, Moscow, Russia!! We all know that, right. Epic size square. It’s not even one of the biggest in Russia. It’s the 6th.
  5. Think of all the massive events and concerts on Red Square, notably, Paul McCartney. Can you think of another one? Well, Madness played there, in 1992, on TOTP. However, post break-up of the Soviet Union and all that, organisation wasn’t great, and not too many Red Square punters here –
  6. Remember Ladas? Yes, you still see them everywhere in Russia. You may not have seen the new ones before, pretty cool. The chief designer, btw, Steve Mattin, one of us. From Bedford no less.
  7. So you are always reading about ‘Russian aggression‘ towards Ukraine, right. You may be surprised that you’ll have trouble finding a Russian person who doesn’t have family, or some connection to Ukraine. Among most Russians is a sadness that two countries once so close have been driven apart, a desire for everything to be ‘horosho’ again…
  8. Horosho‘ (kind of like horror show) means ‘good’ in Russian. But Russians sometimes even say ‘gud’, and quite like using English words, in conversation. So, you’ll hear Russian spoken, interspersed with ‘laik’ (like), ‘relax’, ‘business lanch’ (you get it), and quite a few more. However, beware, not all English-sounding words are English, and can have quite a different meaning! For example ‘sock’ means ‘juice’. And ‘sad’ is ‘garden’ 😉
  9. It goes both ways. Remember The Clockwork Orange. The language there ‘Nadsat‘ is mostly comprised of Russian. ‘Ludi’, ‘chelovek’, ‘droog’ – all Russian.
  10. And by the way, you all know the word ‘Babushka’ / ‘Babooshka’, right. In Russian this is the word not only for grandmother, but generally for women of a certain age, and while to us it may sound even a bit offensive, in Russian, it’s really not.
  11. You’ll really struggle to find a British politician Russians like, for perhaps obvious reasons. Even Winston Churchill, despite allying with Stalin for victory in WWII, is not generally popular, due to his dislike of the Soviet Union.
  12. However, there are popular British figures in Russia. Princess Diana is widely adored, Robin Hood is a hero in Russian folklore too, English (sorry Scots) footballers are popular, British music is as loved as anywhere – actually Robbie Williams was recently due to give big-scale concerts in Russia, before getting cold feet, for some reason.
  13. There is another British ‘Russian hero‘, the spy Kim Philby. While younger Russians may not know him, mention him to Russians of 30s, and above, and be generally sure that the man we know as a traitor is indeed a popular figure in Russia. Because of that.
  14. Everything is done a bit younger. We get married at 30 or 35. With the possible exception of Moscow, and St Petersburg, marriage age can be even early twenties.
  15. You know all that we hear about ‘Russians never smiling’, etc. It’s just not true. Russians smile as much, or perhaps even more, than the next man. Smile yourself, you’ll see 🙂
  16. However, no question that Russia is a country redolent with its own unique traditions, and superstitions. Never, ever give a lady 12 roses, or any even number – that is for the dead. Never shake hands over a doorway – bad luck. Always sit down for a few moments to reflect, before a long journey. Forgetting anything and having to return is bad luck. It goes on. These are real things.
  17.  If you want service in a restaurant, you call to the waitress ‘devushka’ – which is ‘girl’, or if male ‘molodoi chelovek’ – young person. You won’t sound like Father Jack, if the former, either. It’s par for.
  18. It’s sometimes hard to comprehend sometimes just how vast Russia is. If you read this in London, you are 1556 miles from Moscow. People in Russia, Vladivostok, are over twice as far away as you, almost 4000 miles.       If you liked this, put a like, share it, etc, and I may do some more, my droog 🙂