Sunday, October 31, 2010

Marrying a Russian guy

I'm always curious about gender roles and expectations of other cultures and I was just wondering about Russian men. I hear so much about Russian women marrying and looking for foreign husbands and I always hear about Russian men marrying only Russian women.

Even the ones I know here in the U.S. have married Russian women. Do the men date or marry foreign women ever? If not do you know if there is a cultural significance to this?
Asked by Siobhan

Hey Siobhan,

I do not know what man you are keeping in mind asking this tricky question. I am not good at personal dating advice.
So consequently I am afraid my answer will not be very personal or  original it is not only the Russian men's "thing" to look for a Russian wife. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts many other men often also look for Russian spouses. (Shall l do my research and write on the qualities of Russian wives?)

Having said that I shall admit that many men of other nationalities who are living abroad, do stick to their traditions when looking for a spouse....Maybe they prefer to have at home a girl who will remind them of their mothers or sisters. Most likely she will cook them food they used to eat in their childhood (is it reassuring? ), will sing to their kids the songs they have heard as babies (romantic?). So that attachment to the origins has nothing to do with "the special Russian tradition" but more likely is typical for the first/second generation of emigrants living abroad.

But do not get discouraged. There are exceptions to all rules. Russian guys are not "the creatures unlike others" ))) fact, they are not that different and also like different types of girls to the point of even marrying some of them.


1.Russian 36 years old billionaire ANDREI MELNICHENKO married Serbian beauty queen Sandra Nicolic offering her fairy tale style life in Russia.

2. Famous Russian actor Igor Kostolevsky (Russian Bret Pitt) who played in 1975 the XIX century Russian noble officer who felt in love with a French seamstress (their real love story was immortalised in 1840 by the novel of Alexander Duma THE FRENCH MASTER)...ended up marrying his French woman 20 years later.

3. Russian NHL player Valery Bure is happily married to American actress Candace Cameron . Now they raise their three children.

4. Soviet poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko (honored by the US president Nixon ) has been married many times,  two of which to the foreigners: British Joan Butler and American Marina Novika .

5. And the most recent one ........even though it is not a marriage, but a head spinning love of a renown model Naomi Campbell and less known Russian real estate billionaire Vladislav Doronin.
Apparently she is willing to convert to the Russian Orthodox church to be able to marry him in his faith
CUTE! We'll see how this fairy tale ends )))


When you are finally with your Russian man, apart from the natural cultural differences, please be ready to deal  with the feeling that "everything is MEGA REAL" the point of "even too much" ))) (like his favorite Russian language song in the rewind mode in the car)

Love, emotions, presents, flowers will be overflowing as well as sometimes silence, mystery or reluctance to "talk it over", etc... One thing is garanteed, you rarely will be bored.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cursing in Russian translation difficulties

I was just browsing the web, trying to find out how to translate a sentence to Russian for the purpose of a short story I'm writing and I stumbled upon your blog and wondered if you would help me. (...) The sentence in English is, pardon the rude word: "Fucking corpse stealer".

Google Translate came up with this (I need a phonetic spelling since the story won't use Russian alphabet) :
"Trahat' mertvyh vor." How accurate is that?

The context is that the speaker is supposed to be insulting another character, who happens to be stealing dead bodies.

Best wishes Paul B.

It is a tricky question ))) as cursing (Mat in Russian)
is apparently the strongest form of obscene profanity used in Russian and other Slavic language communities...and I try not to use this Russian language on my site as there are a lot of subtlety in the context of cursing in Russian.

However I will help you in this one )))

If I understood correctly it is an if it is not an act and just addressed to a men and has to be very offensive it must be strong..... something like :

"Ebanyi voryuga trupov"

P.S. Never say anything like this in the face of Russian risk to get immediate feedback

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Russian farmers during winter...what did they do?

I am doing some research into farming in Russia around 1914-1917 (focusing on pre-Revolution era) and I am really struggling to find out what farmers would do during the winter months, specifically in areas which receive a lot of snow?

I guess farming the land wasn't possible, but I can't find any information on what they would have been doing during winter. I understand that some workers would travel around for work, but I'm interested in those who would have owned their own farms and stayed there all year (kulaks I think?).

Asked by Abby

First of all I need to explain the Russian term "KULAK". (Kulak - eng. FIST)
This word (which has very negative meaning in Russian) describes the richest farmers (of the beginning of the XX century), who outsourced labor for heavy works and who were lenders of money and material to less fortunate neighbors.

Climate dictated habits & traditions of all nations. If Russian were engaged only in tilling the soil or wheat processing, the people would disappear either from cold or famine. That is why the unique nature of Russian plan required plowmen to adapt two types of the economy - the summer one and the winter one.
The objective of summer economy was to support the family with «agricultural activity».
The objective of the winter one - was to get the income « from the crafts/business activity ». If the frost took care of the land in the winter the Russian farmer had nothing there. He had to be involved in some kind of business.
In fact, the budget of Russian peasants consisted of only 50-75% of their agricultural work. The other 25-50 % of the income came from "trade or business".
Majority of men went to towns with own horse to become temporary cabs.
However many young families couldn't permit themselves to own a horse as it was very expensive to own an animal in the winter.
Others went to towns with the other men of their village to be hired for temporary works (carpenters, blacksmiths, etc). They tried to stay close together and formed ARTELs (or cooperatives).

That is why there were very few healthy young men left in the villages during the winter, if not to say NONE
The majority of families consisted of women and older members of the family with children.
P.S. So I am afraid Abby, I won't be able to bring any news to your research. HELAS ! new info here

Monday, August 9, 2010

Herbarium - Russian tradition?

I was told that it's a Russian tradition to keep a flower in your book, just to have it with you. What is that called in English and Russian?
Asked by Stanley

Well, for the first time I have to admit that this statement is wrong. Tradition is not Russian, but European.

Keeping dried flowers in the books is called Herbarium (Latin herbárium, from herba - "grass") - a collection of dried plants kept according to certain rules.
Typically, the plants for herbarium after drying are put on sheets of paper.

The first herbarium appeared in Italy in the XVI century. Their invention is related to the invention of paper is attributed to the doctor and botanist Luca Ghini, founder of Pisa Botanic Garden. Herbarium of the Ghini has been destroyed later, but the collection of his close friends is still kept in museum.


In the elementary school, we collected leaves, ironed them to make them dry and pasted into an album signing the name of the tree.This ritual is known to all people who went to the schools in ex-USSR. After the first year experience collecting just leaves, next season we would have dug the plant by the roots, dried, pasted on sheets of cardboard and then added a list of type description...and couple months later this whole album would finish in the garbage )))))))


I don't know who told you that it's a Russian tradition. But most probably it was a girl.)))))))) Well, she probably was also very romantic, wasn't she? )))))))))))

I have to say that keeping a flower (especially which was given to you by a person you've loved) in the book is so old-fashioned. Russian famous poet of XIX century Mr.Alexander Pushkin has devoted several poems to this tradition.

Classics.....and out of fashion!

We all know that teenage loves rarely last and make fun of Pushkin love poems. ..........But frankly wouldn't you feel a little pinch in the heart if opening the book you find a dry flower - witness of a forbidden kiss, for example?? ))))))))

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Russian hackers

Why do so many Russian's seem to be hackers? Or are really good at computers?
Asked by KaiWen, China

Naturally , I am against generalization...It will be a way too ambitious to claim that a lot of Russians are hackers.

But I understand your question and must say that recent events did create a certain image of advanced computer users coming from the territory of Russian Federation. Many of them caused a lot of sleepless nights to the IT security departments of various Western corporations.


"Around 1980, when the news media noticed hackers, they determined real hacking as: the security breaking which some hackers occasionally did. They ignored all the rest of hacking, and used the term "breaking security", no more no less. Since that the media have spread that definition, disregarding our attempts to correct them. As a result, most people have a false idea of what we hackers actually do and what we think.
You can help correct the misunderstanding simply by making a distinction between security breaking and hacking—by using the term "cracking" instead of security breaking. The people who do it are "crackers". Some of them may also be hackers, just as some of them may be chess players or golfers; most of them are not...."
Lets see who is TOVARISCH hacker? ))))))

It is almost impossible to say when it all started, but one of Russian IT forum gave a colorful description of a reason why Russians computer specialists often associated with trouble among the other members of Internet community.

"Soon after the shoot of USSR those who got a foreign software, had neither documentation nor any technical support to count on. So that was the moment when Russian system administrators were forced to find their way around, more precisely to write own patches there where in general it was almost impossible.

Therefore, at the beginning of 90th many Western companies loved to hire Russians /or Soviet computer specialists - as where the Western colleagues would have spent hours on the phone with IT support, Russians would spit and write his own patch.

Many of such cases, by the way, then became a standard de facto. "

Russian hackers deserved a special attention of US security services when in 2009 the US Government reported a series of hacking attacks (remember Citi group case), as well as the theft of more than $9 million from systems belonging to the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The threats forced US President Barack Obama to announce that defense against Internet attacks became a ''national security priority''.

As Fox news reported at the time, that the main sources of danger were
"Identity theft, social networking, and modifying commercial software" However, according to Amit Yoran, a former cybersecurity chief at the Department of Homeland Security, "the combining all 3 methods raised the attack method to a new level, which have never been seen before"
Fair enough BBC quoted the vision of the problem by famous creator of computer anti- virus program Mr.Kaspersky "Russian attacks look more professional. The malware and design are more complicated and more technical. I think it's thanks to Russia's technical education. Its graduates are probably the best."


Well, known fact that any IT specialist will be on the job market the most demanded no wonder that those who get IT diplomas are the first ones to get a well paid job offer. So 90 % of graduates do end up in the business. Of which kind... to be confirmed ))))
Still there is no reason to be paranoiac and it will be incorrect to say that Russian hackers are prepared by Russian colleges. (In fact, Russian colleges have been highly criticized recently for not preparing well qualified modern IT personnel ))))

Recent studies show that the job difficulty of new IT colleges graduates is not really compensated by the proposed official salary.
Those who speak English and able to work with English language technical documentation in average earn per month in Moscow up to RUB 50 000 ($1 680), in Saint Petersburg RUB 40 000 ($1 345) , in Novosibirsk up to RUB 30 000 ($1000)

But if you take into consideration that the IT
engineering is mainly a man's world (92%), please also consider that 78% are under 30 years old. Still only 49% of IT have graduated with such diploma.

And here comes the most interesting part...........according to the polls of independent experts 33% of IT specialists learn from books when they want to upgrade their level of knowledge. Other 20% of Russian IT specialists just count on their own capacity to learn from own experience and mistakes.
(Of cause it will be immoral to prize the people who break into somebody's personal security but who in the modern world will object that Necessity is the mother of Invention. Besides, would that be only Russian hackers who want to get a big check at the end of the month.))))

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Russian war allies: General Winter & General Hunger

I read a Russian story once that was used as a metaphor concerning Russian history. The war with France, to be exact.
The story spoke of General Hunger and General Winter, who met and spoke, and realized that although both had great power and control over the people of the land, neither could survive or have any effect without the other. I was wondering if you knew of this story? If you can, could you please tell me the name of it and the meaning of the story?

Asked by

Darryl Tonks, UK
Dear Darrel, I don't know the story you are talking about as there are several ones. Frankly, I am not sure they are Russian invention. These metaphoric heroes are often mentioned when one is talking about the war on Russian territory. However, even though they seem to be pure epic invention there had some historical base.


The victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 (Invasion of Napoleon's army in Russia) became the subject of many Russian poems, opera's and novels created in XIX century (remember War & Peace of Mr. Tolstoy for example))))

Indeed Russians were proud of their victory over Napoleon's army but it was Denis Davydov (the hero of this war) who for the first time claimed that this victory was much helped by The General Moroz (the General Winter) . Some modern historians object the cold weather axiom of 1812, but this myth was so attractive…

But historians have no live evidence when the supporters of the Russian winter horror story have a plenty of it.
Taking over burned to ashes Moscow in September Napoleon Army has faced sabotage of few local people who has not fled Russian capital. Army catering & logistics soon began having food delivery problems as many peasants converted into partisans and fled their villages together with the domestic animals.

Those regimens who were in French Army avant-guard often burned down unruly villages on its way, thus leaving the rest of the Army without provisions. The situation has worsened as the winter approached.


Soon as is mentioned in military studies, the main body of Napoleon's Grande Armée, initially at least 378,000 strong, "diminished by half during the first eight weeks of his invasion, before the major battle of the campaign. This decrease was partly due to garrisoning supply centers, but disease, desertions, and casualties sustained in various minor actions caused thousands of losses.

It was a humiliation for French Grande Armee to admit that their strategy was not adopted to Russia. Distance, people, traditions were all against them.
The sequels were Napoleon's uncontested and self-defeating occupation of Moscow and his humiliating retreat, which began on 19 October, before the first severe frosts later that month and the first snow on 5 November 1812"

“Almost entire cavalry marches on foot, less than 1/5 of the initial regiment and 100 of horses”, wrote unknown ex-Russian front French soldier in his memories.“Frenchmen perished more from hunger than exhaustion, disorder, robberies and loss of any discipline ”, testifies General Kreyts.

Hunger suddenly became catastrophic. Soon even horse meat was a luxury. This horrible period was described in the memories of Russian General Kreyts who in Moscow suburbs, marching with his regiment, reported hearing weird noises in the forest. After exploring the forest, his people saw French soldiers cutting & eating human meat.

Commander-in-chief of Russian Army General Mikhail Kutuzov wrote to his wife on October 28, 1812:Yesterday we found in the forest two French soldiers, who fried and eat their third comrade”.


So would it be correct to say that General Hunger was much stronger then General Winter? Finally, one or both rapidly helped to destroy French army of 1812.

Was it a good lesson for war strategy class?...Apparently not, 130 years later in Stalingrad another strong European army tried to test loyal Russian Army Allies: general Winter & General Hunger.