Misconceptions About Russians

There are certain persuasions we all have aout life in Russia and Russians in general, that we can thank action-filled-submarine-located-KGB-bomb-exploding-red-army-shooting spy movies for.Some are just not true, and some are weirder than you think!

1. Everybody is a rocket scientist or a spy

In all honesty, when I first packed my bags a few years ago and told my mom I was moving to Moscow, what I wasn't telling anyone was the true reason - I wanted some of that awesome action! All the stories I had ever heard about Russia always involved a cover-up, some forged documents, secret agencies, and even the dullest stories had at least a nuclear bomb somewhere, waiting for someone to push that red button with weird-looking letters all over it.

yes, it sais "explosion"

And at first i did see spy stuff like that everywhere! The cab driver looked a little suspicious, the lady in the bread shop had that look as if she had just completed her hourly update with the KGB in the back room of the bakery.

I started noticing a lot of people with missing fingers(surprisingly more common that you would expect-due to frostbites from the terrible winter of 19...ah every year really, but more on that later) , and automaticly assumed they lost their fingers spying for the KGB. My head was fantasizing 24-7 and I lived in a movie for about 6 months.

Unfortunately, the truth turned out to be different. Almost nobody is a rocket scientist here. The most popular occupations are Economist, Manager and Lawyer.

because that's boring

The Russian space program is in fact, so unpopular that they're desperate to hire. The Russian space agency - ROSCOSMOS is offering 1700 workplaces to anyone with a physics or mechanics master's degree, and the least popular occupation? Astronaut.

This guy ended up jumping off a window pissed out of his mind, but more on that in the "vodka,vodka,vodka" section.

Gagarin ended up jumping off a window,pissed out of his mind. But more aout that in the Vodka,Vodka,Vodka secrion.


The business of espionage and misleading information is very much alive. If you don't believe me, ask this guy. The name has changed from KGB to FSB, and the're fake accent has probably gotten better, but there's still jokes about the KGB building (only 4 stories high) being the tallest building in Moscow. This has to do with the fact you can see Siberia from it's basement, you know, cos of the incredible gadgets in the12 stories underground.

There's also a secret underground metro, called Metro2

It's parralel to the regular metro and connects the Kremlin to the FSB buiding (it was probably the only building with a 12 story basement,so they just went with it), the goverment airport and some unknown little village called Ramenki. The latter, obviously, should the gentlemen of the government find their throuserd have ignited due to vigorous fabrications. (liar,liar-pants on fire)

2. The police is violent and corrupt

If only I could show you rather than tell you...oh, wait! I totally can

The guy hit in the liver eventually died.

Intercepting the wrong car

Taking a bribe

Clearing pockets in the Metro


They do know how to have good time:

Also, every time there's a holiday, everybody just forgets themselves, seriously.

3. Everbyody's name is Boris

Well this isn't entirely untrue. While lot of countries have a variety of given names, Russia lives in fear of having to remember more than 5 different names. If you look here, you'll notice that Russia is the only country that has only 3 names in their TOP 10 most popular, Alexander, Artyom and Vladislav. Numbers 4-10 are just blank.


Inspite of popular belief and submarine-mafia-spy movies, Boris was never really popular among KGB agents or mafiosi. There is in fact, not a single Boris in sight.

But to be fair, everybody's name is Olga.

5. It's excruciatingly cold and there's a bear

Let's start with the bear. There aren't any.

Now about the cold...

Since nobody likes meteorological charts and numbers,and nobody really knows how many 'F is a 'C, let me put it this way:

Come winter, shampoo freezes in your grocerie bag o the way home, some mobile phones just stop working, on a bad day gas will freeze in your car. In fact, most trucks driving through Siberia have to use a special kind of gas that only freezes at temperatures colder than -70 C.

-47 'C = -52.6 'F

Also, it's so cold that...a series of cold-related jokes

But there is no reason to be preoccupied, there is a whole industry of clothing and garments designed to protect you from the atrocious cold, and also, your sex life.


Other seasons are rather pleasurable, and anyone not too busy trimming their shiny black mustache, would know not to attack Russia in the winter.

A random passer-by on a cold day

6. Vodka, vodka, vodka.

Myth: Russians drink too much. Truth: Russians drink more than you can imagine in your wildest dreams. Of course, not all of them, and of course not all the time, but there are records of people who drank 40 days without a break, and when i say drank I don't mean frappucino's with a dash of cherry liquor.

After the soviet union collapsed, a lot of people lost their jobs, and either did or are still drinking themselves to death. All alchohol comercials are forbidden until 10 p.m. , and it's illegal to advertise vodka at all. Alchoholism is as serious a problem in Russia as Healthcare bills are in the United States, and it's discussed daily in goverment meetings. That is, of course, when they're not busy streetfighting:

A typical government meeting

The average consumption is about 80 L of vodka per year for men 30-60 years old. Don't get me wrong, it's not like it's a country with wabbling drunk beardy men everywhere, at least not on the holidays. In fact, it's astonishing how rarely you see a really drunk russian. That's because they have a special way of drinking. They don't mix vodka with juice, or drink cocktails. Instead they do it like this:

1. Unapropriately long toast

2. Breathe out

3. Drink up the vodka (it's usually 50g)

4. Without breathing in, chase it with black bread or salted cucumbers.

5. Go "aaaagghh! Harasho pashlo!"

This way they never rally smell the vodka, and rarely get sick. In the old days, I am told, when there was nothing to eat, they would smell each others heads, or arms, or grass. I've actually seen people do this when they're too lazy to go to the store for snacks.


It's not everywhere you can see a business woman on the way to work drinking beer to get in shape after last night, or the dancing policemen from earlier. It's also a great feeling to know that if it's a holiday - you're welcome to every party. And if it wasn't for all the vodka and cucumbers, I would probably never have seen the two old twins dancing on the red square, Masha's grandfather playing the accordeon in his pyjamas, Misha and Grisha singing the worst version of "La isla bonita" or gotten this for my birthday:

It's like chatroulette, but without penises