Everyone’s heard a thing or two about Putin and the USSR.
But few people have heard anecdotes about real-life in Russia and the Soviet Union.
So Business Insider put together a list of stranger-than-fiction facts about Soviet pop stars, military classes in high schools, a lake that could kill you…
And that’s just the beginning.
title=”Back during the Soviet Union, high school students had to learn how to assemble and take apart an AK-47 in order to graduate.”
content=”There was a course in school called ‘начальная военная подготовка’ (beginning military training), in which students had to learn how to assemble and take apart an AK-47 under a time limit.
Students also learned how to shoot a rifle and march, several people who attended high school under the Soviet Union told Business Insider.
This was a graduation requirement.”
caption=”Mikhail Kalashnikov, chief designer of Izhmash Concern, a Russian firearms producer. (April, 2006.)”
title=”You can go see Vladimir Lenin’s actual body today. For real.”
content=”You can go check out Lenin’s actual embalmed body from the hours of 10 AM to 1 PM in the Lenin Mausoleum in the Red Square.
(Except on Mondays and Fridays, sorry.)
His body has been on display for approximately 90 years at this point, since 1924.
caption=”Lenin statue in Dmitrov.”
title=”A female Russian politician proposed that ‘each female citizen of Russia will be able to receive by mail the genetic material of the President’ to have a baby.”
content=”Chairwoman of Parliamentary Commission on Women’s Affairs, Children and Family Yelena Borisovna Mizoulina reportedly said:
‘The essence of my proposition is simple. Each female citizen of Russia will be able to receive by mail the genetic material of the President, get pregnant from him and have a baby. These mothers will be receiving special allowances from the government.’
Source: Trust (Russian), New York Observer (English)”
title=”There are North Korean labour camps in Siberia.”
content=”North Korea outsources its labour force to work in Siberia in an effort to generate hard currency.
Vice News went to visit the camps and discovered that workers had 10-year labour contracts, ‘Dickensian working conditions, squalid living quarters, inedible food and the majority of their wages garnished and sent back to North Korea.’
Source: VICE NEWS”
title=”Russia has a bigger surface area than Pluto.”
content=”Pluto’s surface area is 16.7 square kilometers.
Russia’s surface area is 17,098,242 sq km.
Source: CIA Factbook”
title=”Russians drink 2 times as many shots as Americans per week, but South Koreans drink 2 times as many as Russians.”
content=”Russians drink an average of 6.3 shots per week of any spirit (a decline from 2000), while Americans drink 3.3 shots (an increase from 2000).
And South Koreans drink about 13.7 shots per week.
title=”Russia’s natural gas reserves are equal to approximately 19.2 billion Olympic sized swimming pools.”
content=”Russia has 1,688 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves.
And Olympic sized swimming pool has a volume of 88,000 cubic feet.
title=”The ‘Tetris Song’ is actually a 19th century Russian folk song.”
content=”‘Tetris’ was invented by Alexey Pajitnov during the Soviet Union.
The ‘Tetris Song’ is actually a 19th century folk Russian song called ‘Korobeiniki.’
title=”Bangladesh has 23 million more people than Russia, but it is 0.84% of Russia’s size.”
content=”Bangladesh’s population is 166,280,712 and its total size is 143,998 sq km.
Russia’s population is 142,470,272 and its total size is 17,098,242 sq km.
Source: CIA Factbook”
title=”A Russian senator proposed creating a Russia-only internet, and naming it after a popular cartoon character Cheburashka.”
content=”Russian senator Maxim Kavdzharadze proposed creating a domestic Internet (mostly for ‘scientific information‘) because Russia needs to ‘get out from under the wing of the US, otherwise information leaks will continue.’
He also suggested that other countries (Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) could maybe have access.
Additionally, Russia’s Presidential Library announced in November that it was working with Russia’s National Library to develop an online encyclopedia as an alternative to Wikipedia.
Source: The Moscow Times”
caption=”Cheburashka, left, with friend, Gena the Crocodile.”
title=”Just standing on the edge of Russia’s Lake Karachay for 1 hour only will give you enough radiation to kill you. (We’re not even talking about putting your toes in the water.)”
content=”Radioactive waste was dumped into Lake Karachay during the Soviet Union, including long-lived fission products such as Strontium-90 and Cesium-137.
The area around the lake (the Chelyabinsk region) had seen a 21% increase in cancer, a 25% increase in birth defects, and a 41% increase in leukemia.
The nearby Techa River was so contaminated that roughly 65% of locals got radiation sickness.
Source: Daily Mail”
caption=”Most people aren’t willing to risk their lives to go take a picture of the lake.”
title=”Technically speaking, there are less than 2.5 miles between Russia and the US.”
content=”Russia and Alaska are divided by the Bering Straight, which is 55 miles at its narrowest point.
However, in between the strait, there are two small islands: the Big Diomede, which is on Russian territory, and the Little Diomede, which is on US territory.
The two islands are slightly less than 2.5 miles apart.
title=”The metal frame of the Statue of Liberty was made in Yekaterinburg.”
content=”Pretty much everyone knows that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the US.
But what you might not have known is that the frame was made of metal produced in Yekaterinburg.
Source: Russia Beyond The Headlines”
title=”Soviet women were granted the right to vote before American women were.”
content=”Women were granted universal suffrage in 1917 after the Russian Czar was dethroned, while American women were granted the right to vote in 1920.
Source: National Archives”
caption=”1968, the end of May. Students wearing traditional school uniform.”
title=”Traditionally, Russians don’t give an even amount of flowers to each other. That’s reserved for funerals.”
content=”So stay clear of giving a dozen roses to superstitious people.”
caption=”Alla Pugacheva, one of the most famous Soviet/Russian performers, sings popular Soviet single ‘Million Scarlet Roses.'”
title=”Can’t get enough about Russia? You’re in luck. There’s more:”