Weird, Sad Facts About Russia That Will Never Stop Surprising You

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Winston Churchill famously said that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Russia is also a drunken fistfight wrapped in a potato pancake and dropped in a rusty bucket of tears.

On the one hand, Russia has been one of the world’s great powers for over 300 years. On the other, they’ve managed to have one of the weirdest, most depressing societies that mankind ever produced. They’re powerful, they’re crazy, they’re fascinating: they’re Russia.

Russia pioneered the dashcam because Russians are terrible actors

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Never let anyone tell you that live theatre isn’t alive in Russia. Drive a car for more than 10 minutes and someone will definitely run in front of you, fall down and then act like you hit them.

So many of these thespians made stages out of highways that every Russian now uses a dashcam to record every moment of their drive. It’s become a lot harder for the hammy insurance fraudsters to make their living, but just like bad actors anywhere you can find them easily on YouTube.

Beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic drink until 2011

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While the average American drinks 9.2 litres of alcohol a year and their Canadian cousins take in 8.0 litres, the average Russian is drinking 15. Boom! (“Boom!” is the sound an alcoholic’s near-comatose body makes as it hits the ground.)

And that figure is likely due for a bump because beer wasn’t considered an alcoholic beverage by the Russian government until 2011. There were actually more restrictions on who could buy or sell milk than on beer, so now Russia is one big playground for detoxing preteens.

Bonus Russian booze fact

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Russia’s love of the hard stuff isn’t just for fun. First responders to the Chernobyl disaster (called “liquidators”) were rumoured to have been given vodka to counteract the effects of the radiation. Except… vodka doesn’t do that! But it does give you a nice buzz as your cells are liquefied.

Ah, now the liquidator name makes sense.

Baked milk

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On the scale of “weird and sad,” caramel-tasting milk is pretty low. (It’s actually quite tasty.)

But consider that the “recipe” for this Russian treat calls for letting milk sit on the stove for hours until a brown crust forms. Sounds suspiciously like something that would happen when a boozed-up granny nodded off for a few hours, doesn’t it?

“Bad news: babushka’s got a problem. Good news: baked milk!”

Even the bears can’t stop getting wrecked

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When military personnel discarded containers of gasoline and kerosene inside the South Kamchatka Sanctuary, some of the zone’s 700 brown bears realized they could catch a buzz off the fumes. The bears have been seen huffing for minutes at a time with their heads inside the barrels before falling into the snow. Some bears have even rushed toward helicopters in the sanctuary, probably hoping for a fresh dab of those sweet, sweet hydrocarbons.

You know your country has substance-abuse problems when even bears get so wasted they think they’re John McLean.

Russian emoticons don’t have eyes

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Emoticons are silly fun, right? A colon and a bracket magically become an ultra-minimalist cartoon and communicate a little extra joy. Except in Russia they leave they eyes out.

That’s right: Where you and I type :), A Russian sticks with only ), because eyes are the window to the soul and looking at your dim and desiccated Russian soul is obviously not going to help your bestie who just wants to know what time you’ll be at their place for some baked milk.

Krokodil

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British Columbians have their bud, Columbians are cocaine pioneers, and Russians invented a drug that makes your skin fall off!

After heroin users in Siberia lost access to their drug of choice, they started synthesizing desomorphine, known as Krokodil, out of over-the-counter codine medication. But because of impurities in the cooking process, it had the nasty side effect of sometimes making skin and muscle so infected that it rotted off.

Don’t do (Russian) drugs, kids!

Tsar Bomba

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At the height of the Cold War, the USSR produced the most powerful nuclear weapon of all time – the Tsar Bomba. At 50 megatons, its yield was more than double the yield of the most powerful American-produced bomb. Suck on Russia’s total disregard for life, Uncle Sam.

Then it was time to test it. Did they drop it in a remote atoll, like everyone else? Maybe in the middle of the ocean? Nope! They dropped it in northern Russia, totally flattening the village of Severny.

Russia dropped the most powerful weapon ever made on themselves.

Closed cities

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You know when you’ve got friends coming over but there’s no time to clean up, so you just shove everything in a closet and hope for the best? Yeah, Russia’s done that with whole cities.

Officially known as “closed administrative-territorial formations,” these closed cities are off-limits to non-residents and other civilians. The Russian government publicly acknowledges 44 publicly acknowledged cities, but it’s suspected that there are another 15 they haven’t.

Why? Great question… THAT WILL NOT BE ANSWERED!

Tsarina Anna and her ice palace

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When it comes to being total, irredeemable dicks, Russia’s tsars and tsarinas were literally the kings. But Anna of Russia took it to a new level when her ex-lover married a Catholic and she, naturally, took that as a solid reason to force him to become a jester, marry an ugly maidservant and have them both sleep naked in an ice palace.

Yes, that happened. No, you’re not missing an important detail of the story. Because when you’re all-powerful, Russian and crazy, ain’t nothing going to stop you.

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