History of Russian foreign policy

This post is an exception. As I stated, the blog is free from political issues, but Russian foreign policy is an important thing for understanding our mentality. Many Russian people used to live (and continue) not for their own happiness, but for greater purposes.
Warning: this post is dark and full of terrors.
Entire text is my translation of original post http://mi3ch.livejournal.com/2722323.html You may want to see immersive photos there.

 It used to be a huge problem for Russia that most of its rulers were bored to take care of their own country. Meanwhile the greatness of the ruler was estimated in thousands of square kilometers of conquered lands and millions of victims. We used to fight for anyone’s interests instead of constructing houses, bridges and roads. Constructing for centuries, not for years.

When Prussia wished to take Silesia from Austria, Russia certainly couldn’t tolerate it and fell into Seven Years’ War. We sent 100 000 Russian soldiers to manage Prussia. We took Berlin. Then appeared a menace to Hannover, a possession of English king in the center of Europe. And 30 000 more afoot soldiers went throughout entire Europe to fight for Hannover.

Have you ever ponder, what for did Suvorov’s bruisers perish in the Alps? What for did we crush the French in Italy? How did Napoleon appear in Russia? Emperor Alexander was desperately jealous of his glory and afraid of bacillus of revolution. However, France was not a threat to Russia.

He participated in 3 alliances against Napoleon and every time was beaten – both at Friedland and Austerlitz. And every time Napoleon made no conditions to Russia, but released caprtives with respect. Alexander solemnly hugged Napoleon, called him his brother and immediately rallied militia for a new war.

We have desolated our country, lost hundreds of thousands soldiers for the sake of maniacal ambitions of Alexander I. But the thing he was frightened most of all was the case of Napoleon entering Russia and canceling slavery. Consequences would be unpredictable.

We always punished foreign revolutions. Russia saved Austria-Hungary from disintegration by suppressing Hungarian revolution. And only 4 years later Francis Joseph refused to support Nicholas I in Crimean War.

But the reason of Crimean War itself was ridiculous:  who would own the keys from Church of Jesus Birth in Bethlehem, the Orthodox or the Catholics? And when after a long hesitation the Turks conveyed the keys to the French, Nicholas considered himself insulted and deployed troops in Moldova and Wallachia. We suffered the heavies defeat in Crimea, lost fleet and almost 150 000 soldiers because of Emperor’s insulted feelings.

How much did idea of panslavism cost for Russia? Patriarch Nikon decided to unify Church ceremonies alike Greek to stay closer to the South Slavs and take them under the wing of  Orthodox Church. Tzar Alexei I liked the idea of spreading Orthodox tzar’s authority “from sea to sea and from rivers to the end of universe”. In result we had dissidence, distemper and thousands of burnt dissidents over Russia. According to Senate, even in Peter I times more than 900 thousands were in hiding, it’s almost 10% of country’s population.

We lost dozens of thousands of our soldiers for freedom and independence of Bulgaria. During the WWI Bulgaria was an ally of Germany, during the WWII Bulgaria was an ally of Germany. Today Bulgaria is a member of NATO.

After the revolution it went much worse. We used to support communist parties in all countries of the world. We used to fund revolutions abroad and cruelly punish revolutionists inside of the socialist camp. In 1953 our tank forces suppressed rebellion in GDR; in 1956 – in Hungary. Marshal Zhukov got the 4th star of Hero of the Soviet Union for “suppressing Hungarian anti-revolutionary rebellion”. Indeed, our media called people rebellions “fascist sorties”.

In 1968 our tanks entered Czechoslovakia. In 1979 – Afghanistan. We lost 15 000 soldiers there and killed about million Afghans. Our media reasoned it: if we didn’t do it, then both CSSR and Afghanistan would be invaded by Americans.

Our soldiers used to fight in Korea, China, Bangladesh, Laos, Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Bolivia, Grenada and Cuba. We supported any cannibal claiming he builds communism. On the 28th (the last) forum of Communist party the declared cost of our aid was 700 billion rubles over 20 years. 35 billions a year. Back then the official exchange course was 1 dollar for 0.63 ruble.

We used to suck all juice from our country. Do you know when all soviet peasants got passports? In 1974. Until then they were avoided to be employed in a city.

What was an average peasant’s pension in 1980? Do you know? 34.80 rubles per month.
Communism was promised to be built in this year.

Our president again says Russia won’t tolerate something and will force others to respect it.
Perhaps, it’s enough to play geopolitics?
Perhaps, it’s time to engage in own country?
Engage in boring and uninteresting job: services, roads, constructing, taxes, creating a good climate in the country.

Our county will be respected when we’ll have the best education and healthcare in the world; when scientists from all over the world will aspire to work in Russia and our senior citizens will have the largest pensions in the world.

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Gopniks and squatting

Gopniks are Russian street criminals. They’re 14-22 y.o. males from troubled families. Gopniks are bold, cruel and reckless. They gather themselves in 3-5 people mobs and rob passing people. Usually they stop a man and begin a harsh talk to find a reason for beating him. They always pick a weak target and outnumber their victims.
Gopniks were widespread in 80’s and 90’s. Nowadays they still exist, but much less. Generally they inhabit outskirts or industrial blocks.

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Gopniks have a distinct dress-code. They wear a cheap sport-suit, a leather cap and pointy leather shoes. Also they carry a purse and beads. Gopniks feed on beer and sunflower seeds. They constantly smoke and spit. If they stop at a park bench, they’ll spoil it in 15 minutes by dropping shells of seeds and cigarette stubs and spitting on everything around.

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Gopniks adore to squat. The reason of this custom lies pretty deep. As I aready said, gopniks are minor outlaws and they admire there “more successfull” relatives, who spend time in jail or just leaved it. Therefore gopniks aspire to copy behavior of prisoners without realizing what stands behind them.
Russian prisoners often squat for two reasons: prison rooms are overpopulated and not everyone has a place to seat (they even sleep by turn); security commands prisoners to squat at the wall during opening the cells because in this pose people cannot immediately stand up and run.

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This quote perfectly describes gopniks’ mentality: “Gopnik dreams to leave a jail, but never spend time there; get rid of drugs, but never have addiction; catch gonorrhea, but remain a virgin.”

Gopnik’s life ends up four ways:
– he may change lifestyle and become a normal person (the least probable);
– he gets into a jail;
– he dies because of alcochol, drugs or knife-fight;
– he turns into a complete alcoholic.

Shapka Ushanka

ushanka1

Shapka Ushanka is a particular cap associated with Russians. Calling it just “shapka” is incorrect: “shapka” means “cap” in Russian. The cap was called “ushanka” for its side parts: “ushi” = “ears”. These ears have a strap for binding together.
Traditional ushanka is made of leather and fur. It’s the best protection against frost and blizzard.

There are 4 ways to wear ushanka:
– ears tied on the top
– ears untied and put downwards
– ears tied behind the nape
– ears tied beneath the chin

hoodMongolian hood, a prototype of ushanka

Before the 20th century, ushanka was a mere hat among the plentiful amount of them, but in 1940 it was approved as a part of Soviet military uniform. Soldiers keep wearing it even in present.

ushanka2Soviet kid in ushanka playing hockey

Nowadays ushanka is still pretty popular among civilians, I have one too.

ushanka3ushanka can be fancy

lev_andropovI hope, you don’t believe this is possible

ushanka4ushanka is a popular souvenir from Russia

Recommended Russian and Soviet movies

This list is based on ratings and my personal preferences.

Russian movies:
Легенда №17 (2012) sport, drama, biography
В августе 44-го (2001) action, thriller, drama
Сибирский цирюльник (1998) drama, melodrama, comedy
Утомленные солнцем (1994) drama, war, history
День выборов (2007) comedy
Ночной дозор (2004) fantasy, action, thriller
Дневной дозор (2005) fantasy, action, thriller
Турецкий гамбит (2005) action, detective, adventure
Статский советник (2005) drama, crime, detective
Охота на пиранью (2006) action, thriller, crime
Стиляги (2008) musical, drama, melodrama
9 рота (2005) action, drama, war
12 (2007) thriller, drama, crime
Кухня (2012-) serial, comedy

Soviet movies:
Иван Васильевич меняет профессию (1973)Sci-Fi, comedy, adventure
Бриллиантовая рука (1968) comedy, crime, adventure
Джентльмены удачи (1971) drama, comedy, crime
Кавказская пленница (1966) melodrama, comedy, adventure
Шерлок Холмс и доктор Ватсон (1979-1986) serial, crime, detective
Москва слезам не верит (1979) drama, melodrama, comedy
12 стульев (1971) comedy
17 мгновений весны (1973) serial, drama, war
Белое солнце пустыни (1969) action, drama, melodrama
Ирония судьбы или С легким паром! (1975) melodrama, comedy
Приключения капитана Врунгеля (1976-1979) cartoon, musical, adventure

Russian banknotes

Russian currency has name “ruble” (“roobl`” with soft “l”) since the 13th century. Ruble’s name originates from word “rubit`”, which means “to chop”, because the first coins were cleaved with axes.

Imperial and soviet banknotes are quite boring. Soviet rubles mostly had Lenin’s bust on the front side and image of Kremlin on the back side. So I start with present Russian banknotes, which were issued in 1997. All of them have an illustration of famous monuments and viewpoints from different cities of Russia.

1200px-Banknote_5_rubles_(1997)_frontBanknote_5_rubles_(1997)_back
Great Novgorod; Millennium of Russia monument (1862); wall of Novgorod Kremlin (Kremlin = fortress)

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Krasnoyarsk; Communal bridge across Yenisei; hydroelectric plant

Banknote_50_rubles_2004_frontBanknote_50_rubles_2004_back
Saint Petersburg; Rostral Columns (they were erected in 1810 to serves as beacons)

1200px-Russia100rubles04front1200px-Russia100rubles04back
Moscow; Bolshoi Theater and the sculpture of chariot on the top of it

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Arkhangelsk; monument to Peter the Great; Solovetsky Monastery

1200px-Banknote_1000_rubles_2010_front1200px-Banknote_1000_rubles_2010_back
Yaroslavl; monument to Yaroslav the Wise; John the Baptist Church;

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Khabarovsk; monument to Muravyov-Amursky; bridge across Amur

apolloApollo’s privates on a banknote are the reason of long holy war

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some travelers aspire to make photos of banknotes next to the real monuments

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metal coins

Russian cents are called “kopeika”, which literally means “tiny spear-man”. Kopeika got its name after Saint George, who was usually printed on a coin.
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Saint_george_raphaelSaint George by Raphael (1506)

Finally in 2013 Russia has approved an international sign of ruble:

RR5709-0001R

the new design