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The Cold War was basically the U.S. and Russia playing a long game of chicken, only instead of cars, they were driving entire continents. It's a miracle we lived through it at all, considering how aggressively anti-communist the U.S. was, and how aggressively hardcore Russia is, and always has been. For example ...

5
Stalin Sent 6,000 People To "Cannibal Island." Oh Yeah, He Also Created "Cannibal Island"

via Wikimapia

Can you believe that both poor people and petty criminals had the unbelievable gall to exist in 1930s Russia? If people were to see all those undesirables, why, they might think that communism wasn't actually a perfect utopia. Something had to be done, and seeing as Soylent Green hadn't yet been invented, Stalin decided on the next best thing: Cannibal Island.

via Historias Perdida Senel Tiempo
"Let them eat cake each other."

In 1933, 6,114 people classified as "outdated elements," which is both a strangely innocuous name for people so unwelcome they were sentenced to death, as well as a pretty sweet title for our '80s techno band. The outdated elements were sent to Nazino Island in Siberia. 27 of them died on the journey.

via Wikimapia
They were the smart ones.

Anyone who tried to escape was hunted for sport by the soldiers. There were no shelters or animals on the island, little vegetation, and absolutely no food. It didn't take long for the prisoners to start eating the dead, and then helping the living become the dead a bit faster so they could eat them too. Here's a detailed account of a girl stranded on the island who suffered this very fate, but you shouldn't read it without first looking at pictures of kittens for an hour.

4
The KGB Used Castration To Negotiate A Hostage Release

Multimotyl/Wiki Commons

In 1985, members of the pro-Iranian Islamist group Hezbollah kidnapped four Russian diplomatic attaches, in order to force Moscow to pressure Syria to stop killing Shia Muslims in Lebanon. Understanding Middle Eastern politics is like tracking gossip in high school: Stacy said that Mike said that Chad didn't know that Eric-

Whatever. Just nod and go along with it.

Central Intelligence Agency
Iran and Iraq's beef started over who got to ask Oman to prom.

As you'd expect from the country that gave us "Cannibal Island," Russia's response was basically the speech from Taken: Not only will your demands not be met, but you only have a few seconds to apologize before the killing starts. Hezbollah unwisely called Russia's bluff and killed one of the attaches, a man by the name of Arkady Katkov. That's when Russia went a bit Neesony.

The KGB decided to fight fire with fire and did some kidnapping of their own, finding and kidnapping a relative of Hezbollah's Shia leader. Here's how you'd expect the scenario to unfold: Having obtained serious leverage, the KGB demands the release of the Russian hostages in exchange for the safety of their own hostage. That's a pretty hardcore tactic, but it's nowhere near Russian-core. Instead of a careful game of threats and negotiation, the KGB just pre-emptively castrated their hostage, then sent his severed genitals to Hezbollah, along with an entirely superfluous photograph of the man being shot in the head.

Ankropekk_pl/Pixabay
"Feel free to use the contents to teabag yourselves."

Hezbollah released the remaining hostages immediately.

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3
The USSR Killed And Imprisoned Thousands Of Scientists For Not Agreeing That Plants Are Communist

Russian Federation

About a decade after the formation of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin met Trofim Lysenko, a scientist with a theory that communism was the natural state of being in nature. After pulling up his waistband to hide his throbbing erection, Stalin asked Lysenko to continue.

via Wiki Commons
"Wheat is natural, wheat is cut by sickles. Checkmate, capitalists."

First of all, Lysenko didn't believe in natural selection. He claimed that animals and even plants all consciously worked together and transformed themselves to create the most perfect version of the world as possible, just like in communism. That's why, he claimed, one type of plant could just spontaneously become a completely different kind of plant (like wheat magically turning into barley under the right environmental factors.) He was essentially preaching "plant alchemy."

William Warby/Wiki Commons
"How else do you explain vodka?"

He also believed that animals will sometimes give birth to different kinds of animals because there is no such thing as a "species" in nature. Stalin was so in love with these theories that he declared them the official scientific doctrine of the Soviet Union. Anyone who opposed them was either imprisoned or executed. In the end, about 3,000 biologists lost their jobs and/or life because they dared suggest that a dog couldn't give birth to a cat if it just wanted it bad enough.

2
The Soviet Union Classified 'Not Being Totally Down With Communism' As An Actual Mental Illness

Eugene M/Wiki Commons

On paper, the goal of the Soviet Union (and communism in general) was noble: a just society where everyone is equal, and nobody gets an unfair advantage. It's a grand idea, right? So logically, anyone that opposes such a utopia must be mentally ill. Of course!

That's what Russian psychiatrists figured, too. But whereas you might read that argument, shrug, and say "sure, I guess," Soviet doctors went out and did something about it: They literally defined disagreement as insanity, and had dissenters committed with a diagnosis of "sluggish schizophrenia."

Boasson and Eggler
"The illness is inheritable. That's why all royals had to go."

Medically speaking, that means "you're so lazy it's insane."

Unsurprisingly, the condition was only observed in the Soviet Union and its satellite states, and seemingly disappeared after the collapse of the USSR. Some of the symptoms of sluggish schizophrenia included advocating political reform, perseverance, or struggling for truth. If you were having trouble pinpointing it: Somewhere around the time you outlawed both steadfastness and honesty was the moment your utopic dream went off the rails.

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1
The USSR Was Terrifyingly Chill With Their World-Ending Weapons

Russian Federation

The Aralsk-7 biolab was a research facility located in the Aral Sea on Vozrozhdeniye Island, which is ominously translated as "Rebirth Island." We'd joke about how that sounds like a Resident Evil location, but that's not fair: It was actually featured in Call Of Duty: Black Ops.

Activision
Not a zombie level though. Really dropped the ball there.

But back to our main point, which is that Aralsk-7 infected thousands of people with smallpox.

In 1971, Aralsk-7 was conducting field tests of a smallpox bio-weapon. And because the facility was top secret, an unfortunate research vessel unwittingly got too close to the island, not knowing the danger. Shifting winds, and the lab's near total lack of safety precautions, exposed the ship to the virus. One crew member became infected, and spread the disease to people back home. You might recognize all that as the exact opening to a zombie movie.

via Wikimapia
Except they go with "Kaaaarl!" instead of "Caaaarl!"

In the end, over 50,000 people in the surrounding area had to be vaccinated, while two children and one young woman died. No word on whether or not they immediately rose from the dead to seek vengeance on mankind, so we are forced to assume they did.

Then there was the time the Soviets just up and abandoned a nuclear doomsday stash in Kazakhstan: After the collapse of the USSR, strangely apathetic Russians just walked away from the whole territory, leaving behind plutonium for dozens of nuclear bombs.

Plus one actual nuclear bomb.

Russian Federation
"Just one. A little one. Barely a doomsday device, really."

They plain forgot about a weapon of mass destruction, like you'd leave a coffee cup on top of your car while you drove away.

Luckily, the bomb has since been disposed of, and the U.S. worked with both Russia and Kazakhstan to secure most of the nuclear material left behind under Degelen Mountain. The problem is, no one has any idea how much material there was in the first place, so they don't know how much they may have missed, or where it even is, exactly. And so it just sits there, quietly waiting to become a plot device in the next Tom Clancy novel.

Christopher may or may not be an elaborate ARG designed to mess with everyone's mind. He is on twitter but he never tweets, he once wrote a pretty cool little Brazilian Horror film called "Quarto 38," and he also makes really terrible rap songs about fighting cults. Hire him to write and design your things that need to be written or designed (which may or may not be how you start playing the ARG. We hear there's a prize involved).

Last Halloween, the Cracked Podcast creeped you out with tales of ghost ships, mysteriously dead people, and a man from one of the most famous paintings in U.S. history who years later went all Jack Nicholson in The Shining on his family. This October, Jack and the Cracked staff are back with special guest comedians Ryan Singer, Eric Lampaert, and Anna Seregina to share more unsettling and unexplained true tales of death, disappearance, and the great beyond. Get your tickets for this LIVE podcast here!

For more reasons we're lucky there's still a planet after the Cold War, check out 5 Reasons The Cold War Was History's Worst Clusterf**k and 6 Deadly Serious Cold War Moments (That Now Look Hilarious).

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