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Why Are all Russians in Russia Crazy?

The myths behind Crazy Russians

Most Russians unfortunately often become misunderstood as well as regrettably misconstrued in Western Film and Media. This misrepresentation usually occurs because not many people have a greater understanding of any Russians to challenge this perception. Yet Russians do travel throughout the world. As the Russian economy continues to expand many more will travel in the foreseeable future.

The world will see two big sporting events that will open Russia up to the world stage – The Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and The Football World Cup in 2018. Both these sporting events in Russia will help promote Russia o the rest of the world which remains an interesting prospect.

And these sporting events remain a good thing for the good of all sports as well as Russian culture. It will help widen the worlds understanding of these proud people. In addition the potential relaxation of visa requirements for traveling to Russia will help people freely travel to the country. Although as yet it's unsure if this policy will become widely accepted in connection with the sporting events in Russia.

However firstly it’s necessary to consider what a myth is particularly when applied to Russian culture? A myth functions in a similar way to a stereotype. A myth exists as a shortcut to non-thinking. It helps people sort, as well as organise the many sources of information experienced in every day from various sources including digital images, social media and newspapers. Despite being predominately negative myths also have the slight chance of a positive outcome, in that a small portion of a myth may in fact be true! In this case it’s important to consider the Russian myths that surround the perception of Russia, as well as its people.

In Russia Cossack Carry Horse

Cossacks traditionally carried their horses when they got tired

Cossacks traditionally carried their horses when they got tired

Do not wake the Russian Bear!

are-all-russians-crazy

Russians and Vodka

“All Russians Drink Vodka”

Yes Russians do drink Vodka. It’s their national drink. It literally means “Little Water”. Drinking in many cultures is seen as being part of a celebration or connected to general festivities. A similar myth or stereotype could make the same assumption that ALL French people drink wine. While undoubtedly some do, not ALL do. The same remains for Russians. Some Russians drink Vodka but not all do.

To drink to celebrate remains acceptable and often marks special events in Russian culture, whether it’s Holidays, New Years, Birthdays, Marriages, and general partying. Drinking beyond the realms of celebration exists as a cause for concern for all cultures as it leans more towards alcoholism. Problems of alcoholism remains the same problem for Russian culture as it does for all others.

On the other hand vodka or rather purer alcohol also gets used in some medical treatments in Russia. Often it’s heated and placed on a towel which is then wrapped around the neck to treat colds and throat infections. Vodka acts as the base for the instillation with Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) to treat muscular back problems.

What is Kumis? Well Russians drink Fermented Horse Milk

Yes it is true Russians drink a low alcohol drink called Kumis which is made from fermented horse milk - ideally fermented mare's milk.

Beaware of the Russian Mafia and other Crazy Myths

Beware the Russian Mafia!

The existence of the Russia Mafia is not a surprise. Criminals exist in all societies and so does organised crime. As Don Corleone would Say “It’s nothing personal just business.” Each country has high levels of mafia if you scratch beneath the surface.

Russian Winters - so cold I will freeze!

Yes winter in Russia remains bitterly cold (-65 °C was the lowest recorded) however the average winter temperature is -20 °C. With adequate clothing and thermals winter becomes actually very enjoyable. During its winter Russia receives very little precipitation, and therefore many days, despite being cold, have brilliant sunshine and very little humidity. It winter remains like a dry-cold temperature with very little dampness.

Also it’s worth noting as a counterpoint that the two invasions of Russia by Napoleon in 1812 and Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa in 1941 were both severely hampered by Russian winters.

Crazy Ivan

“All Russians are crazy!”

No they’re not all crazy. The expression however does come from Submariner warfare, when to check if a Russian submarine was being followed in its blind spot by an American submarine. The Russian sub would turn 180 degrees very quickly and head straight back along its original path. Heading towards any following submarine would force the other sub to take emergency actions to avoid a collision.

Russian Women will steal your passport and take your money!

This simple myth remains untrue. However unfortunately as mentioned above criminals exist in all societies and if you mix with bad company, expect bad results. Russian women are very proud of themselves, their nation and their family. They are intelligent and always strive to improve their outlook to all situations. They are normally well educated, respectful, and devoted.

Do I need a Visa for Russia?

Unfortunately this is not a myth and it is true - yes you do need a visa for Russia. I tried the London Embassy but found they closed the queue after 12.30pm. So I used a reputable on-line company. You will need to register your Russian Visa when in Russia. I suggest you ask or check if the hotel can do it, as it is a lengthy process to do it yourself. Also the visa registration paperwork will only be in Russian and has to be 100% correct!

Russian Car Crashes Welcome to Mad Max

Having witnessed hundreds of Russian Car Crashes, and I do mean hundreds during my time in Russia it is fair to say that the rule of driving equates to this:

The first rule of Russian Driving is that there are no rules!

Usually typical crashes involve fender-benders and are not high speed crashes – however part of this crash style is caused by the lack of rules, road markings and indeed the need to get everywhere at speed. Russian drivers generally do not queue and will after look for ways to get past other slower motorists. In essence this creates a Mad Max style of driving which literally terrifies me!

After a crash the vehicles remain stationary until the local police come and fill in their reports, for insurance/court claims. This means that any minor crash results in the road being blocked until further notice. A minor scrape in essence causes a greater traffic jam. This has resulted in a new law that means you can in fact move your car and the insurance/court issue is dealt with later. This is designed to help speed up Russian traffic. However no one believes this and so they vehicles still remain stationary until the road police arrive.

Russian Pedestrians

Pedestrians also have to remember that a Green Crossing does not necessarily guarantee a safe crossing. With so many lanes Russians have to be aware of all traffic directions and to not trust the green crossing. Visual checks of oncoming cars and cars entering from pedestrian blind spots need to be factored in crossing the road. Pedestrians crossings (unlit are generally ignored, so cross at your own peril!). More consideration appears to be given to parents with small children – I have witnessed drivers stop (normally they would have not) when crossing the road with a small child!

All of this apparent peril with car crashes (think of a Russian and his Tank) and lack of consideration to pedestrians really does make you wonder are all Russians Crazy? The answer is probably no, there is just a different sense of order or chaos that prevails modern Russian today.

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Feel free to Comment on Crazy Russian Myths and Crazy Ivan

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on July 08, 2015:

Thanks Julia!

Julia from Russia on June 26, 2015:

Very informative and interesting hub.

Thanks, John, for keeping it objective

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on January 08, 2015:

Thanks Olga, Yes I agree - although the cost of alcohol and cigarettes are increasing hopefully in an effort to deter people from consuming so much!

Olga on November 17, 2013:

Thank you so much for your article, dear John! I guess this place is the first one where I see some objective judgement :-)

Dear John000, alcohol is a huge problem of Russia and Belarus, as well as in Sweden, Great Britain and some other countries, according to latest research and my own observation. Actually I think it is the common problem of humanity.

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on June 11, 2011:

Thank you John000 for the praise!

I agree Russia does have problems with alcohol especially in the smaller towns and cities where no employment combined with professional alcoholism leads to many problems. I was trying to suggest that alcoholism effects many societies and the problem is not unique to Russia.

The oligarchs have both money and protection a powerful concoction indeed! It seems that anything is possible providing you have the right people protecting you, its like a very complex game of chess - anyway thanks for posting I really appreciate your feedback and raise - thanks again John

John R Wilsdon from Superior, Arizona on June 11, 2011:

Good hub! I would question one thing you said in your hub - "Problems of alcoholism remains the same problem for Russian culture as it does for all others." During the Soviet era there was cause for a lot of people to drink too much vodka. Unfortunately, the alcoholiocs bred in that society are very much alive today. I believe, but have not checked recently, that the alcoholism rate in Russia exceeds most countries. I understand that you are trying to express the need not to judge when alcohol is such a problem throughout the world, but I believe the Russians have a very "special" problem in this arena.

And....the mob rules in Russia. Yes, there is more freedom, but it seems that the government is part of the mob scene. Recall that Nazi Germany got its way in the late 20's and early 30's because of thugs. Let's cheer for the improvements in life for the average citizen while keeping a close eye on what happens inside that country.

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on May 26, 2011:

Amazing facts there Bobri Dobri - I never knew about the tin problems - great information many thanks for sharing!

Bobri Dobri from Oklahoma on May 25, 2011:

johndwilliams, very nice article about Russia, thanks for it! Do you know why exactly Napoleon troops were harmed by winter weather? The thing is in that time tin was very common material used everywhere - from buttons to dishes and pots to all metal things. And tin becomes more and more fragile when temperature goes lower. When it's below -33 °C (=-27 F), tin is powder already. And -33 °C is quite common weather in winter in Russia! So Napoleon troops lost all their tin things, with no way to cook food or button up! They had to give up to weather! :)

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on April 29, 2011:

@ Its more positive than the UK media that's for sure

@ Radioguy - thanks for the praise there

@kashmir56 - thanks for the feedback there - hope you enjoy my following hubs

@minesgm - thanks for the vote !

Keep up the good work all

John

minesgm from Texas on April 29, 2011:

Nice to know good about Russians. I voted up and cheers!

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on April 29, 2011:

Hi johndwilliams, thanks for clearing up all those myths and perceptions put on Russian people by the media .

Great hub !!!

Radioguy from Maine on April 29, 2011:

This is great! Good work!

RTalloni on April 29, 2011:

You think so? :)

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on April 29, 2011:

Yes all mainstream media is compromised - even in Russia

RTalloni on April 28, 2011:

Besides that, they lie.

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on April 28, 2011:

This is the best way to keep our positive emotions intact :)

RTalloni on April 28, 2011:

Ahhh, media. Ignore them! :)

johndwilliams (author) from Essex England on April 28, 2011:

Thanks RTalloni - they are good people really, just always seem misconstrued in Western media - thanks for your interest in my Hub - John

RTalloni on April 28, 2011:

Our Russian friends are wonderful, very intelligent, hard working, delightful people.

I like your common sensical thinking. :)