Oh Mother Russia. It is a place of bears and guns whose people live in grayscale because everything is so cold and depressing. Okay okay but that’s just a caricature of Russia, right? The real country is filled with beautiful, diverse people from many cultures. The country isn’t just snow and ice. It has gorgeous beaches on the Caspian Sea in the west, and majestic mountain ranges in the east. Its cities are international hubs of culture and thought.
Well, maybe. But becoming a communist superpower really did a number on Russia, whose people are as familiar with Kalashnikovs as they are with dish soap. As anyone with any memory of time inside the USSR could tell you, communism doesn’t work. Goods don’t get to where they are most needed, and people have to make do with crappy old stuff because nobody has an incentive to make new, nice stuff. This means that Russians are really good at using what they have. They are master MacGyvers that can turn a rusting construction vehicle into a hot tub, because, well where the hell else are they gonna get a hot tub. It’s Russia.
Also, no lie, there are TONS of bears. There are approximately 120,000 bears in Russia – 100 times the amount in the continental United States.
These photos show some of the wacky stuff that Russians do every day.
15. Russia’s Kentucky Derby
This photo has made me realize that I’ve been getting ripped off at the circus my entire life. Oh, you want me to pay $40 to watch some guys in make-up throw bowling pins? Oh yeah, and that guy tames lions? Neat. Has he tamed bears and trained those bears to tame horses and then subsequently ride those tamed horses? No? Well I think I’ll take my business elsewhere, thank you. I’ll use my $40 and instead bet on the bear-horse races at the Blagoveshchensk Derby. My money is on the small bear. He’s lithe like a jockey and clearly knows how to get his horse into a gallop. The larger one looks like he would just as soon eat his horse as ride it to victory in the Moscow Hippodrome.
14. Steamy Russian Dating
For a country with so much land, Russians are crazy for fish. Sturgeon caviar is a Russian delicacy, and they salt just about every fish they can get their frostbitten hands on. Which means that this is actually a perfect photo for a Russian dating site. Snag a date with this cutie and you can feed your whole starving village for a week. The difference between the two figures in this photo is that one is a pale, cold, dead-eyed giant, and the other is a Wels Catfish. This species of Catfish, native to Central and Eastern Europe can grow to truly monstrous proportions. The largest known Wels Catfish reached 16 feet and 880 pounds!
13. The Dumpster Slide
My theory is that this husk of a Russian town’s dirt is so incredibly toxic and irradiated, that it is actually better for the kids to be dropped into a pile of garbage in than on the ground. If there are any children to use the slide at all. Russia has a shrinking population due to parents having fewer and fewer children. This means that eventually the youth of Russia will have to shoulder a larger percentage of their family’s pensions and medical care than they did. The Russian government has gotten so desperate to fix this problem that it has created campaigns to incentivize procreation such as free s*x toys and refrigerators, increased childcare, and more playgrounds depositing kids safely into the dumpster.
12. Harsh Russian Military Punishment
Word of advice. Don’t plot the trajectory of those rear hooves. It’ll make you dizzy. Because of the army attire, my guess is that this is the equivalent of a court-martial in the United States. In the U.S., if somebody in the military does something wrong, they are court-martialled rather than going through a normal trial. If convicted, they lose their rank and are dishonorably discharged. In Russia, the court-martial process is a little different. If you’re convicted then you are sentenced to a testicle smashing by means of a horse. It has been made into something of a public spectacle to add humiliation to the pain, as can be seen from the happy onlookers.
11. The Bear Taxi
According to Russian law, it is legal to transport a bear this way in Russia as long as it is wearing a seatbelt. The fact that this is a law is probably even more unbelievable than this photo. That means that this situation occurs in Russia with enough frequency that Russian legislators literally had to sit down in Parliament and debate this measure. A legislative aid was paid to write down the technicalities of the law. And I assume that bear-physics experts had to be employed to calculate the force a bear exerts in the average car crash and how likely a seat belt would prevent injury. Do they make bear crash dummies in Russia?
10. Those Cold Russian Nights
This is basically like that kids game Operation, where you pluck things out of a fun plastic man’s body. Except in this case it is 10 below zero inside your house and if you hit any one of the sides, instead of a cute buzz and a little red nose light you get third degree burns. Her abdominal muscle strength is honestly absurd. You try holding that position for more than a few seconds without your feet touching anything. It’s brutal. Maybe she was one of those famous Russian acrobats pumped full of steroids as a 14 year old girl? Or maybe fighting off bears since she was seven just naturally means this lady as abs of steel.
9. Repurposing The Motherland’s Vehicles
This kind of repurposing happens constantly in Russia. Step 1: State-owned construction company is directed by a communist bureaucrat to perform a construction task. Step 2: The construction project all of a sudden is no longer a political priority and construction stops. Step 3: State-owned companies use their resources poorly because there is no pay incentive to use them efficiently, so construction equipment is abandoned. Step 4: Instead of being put to use in much needed infrastructure projects, the equipment becomes a public bath tub. You can tell this has been used as a hot tub for a long time because of how thoroughly blackened the whole front of the shovel is.
8. A Foul Shoe Chug Tradition
Glad she looks like she’s having a good time guzzling foot fungus. I guess that’s because she thinks this Russian tradition will bring her luck. Okay but, if the redhead so scared of getting her dress dirty that she fetched a washcloth to put under her chin (totally killing the vibe by the way) then why is she drinking from a shoe? Now that we have established that she is afraid of getting dirty, LOOK AT THE SHOE. It’s disgusting. They didn’t even think to give it a little rinse before they literally stuck it in her mouth. Most of that dirt would come off with just a spritz. It’s like some Russian dude walked through a dusty Russian alley, took off his shoe and said “here use this.”
7. From Russia With Lots And Lots Of Love
In the U.S., people certainly enjoy fanboying over the President. But we don’t have anything on Russians. Russians are crazy about Vladimir Putin. They think he’s the absolute bee’s knees. Because of the Russian propaganda machine, Russians believe that Putin is singlehandedly leading them towards a safe and prosperous future where they won’t have to worry about being nuked by the U.S. or starving to death in a Siberian winter. And clearly, this love affair with the President starts at a young age. I enjoy thinking about the fact that Russia doesn’t manufacture enough car parts for its citizens to keep their cars running, but it manufactures enough Putin rugs that every young Russian boy can pose sensually with his own one.
6. Family Fun
There’s nothing quite as American as gathering ‘round the television with the whole family to watch the game. This photo shows that, despite being on different sides of the world and split by geopolitical and historical feuds, Americans and Russians aren’t so different after all. We are both captivated by the good ol’ moving picture, and we both love enjoying the television as a family with our lovable pets. Okay, Spot eats doggy kibble and Oleg eats entire salmon. And sure, in Russia that lovable pet could maul and eat your child, but those things are just superficial. In the end, they are just lovable, fuzzy parts of the family.
5. A Quick Fix
Spare tires in the U.S. are one of the most standard things in a car. They’re absolutely crucial for safe driving in case something happens to one of your tires during a drive. But what do you do when the Communist government of your country hoards all the rubber in order to make tank tracks? Spare tires are hard to come by in Russia. Easy. You take a shopping cart, cut off the cage, and solder the bottom with the wheels to your car’s axle. On your rear-wheel-drive car, this quick fix works miraculously well. Just don’t travel above 12 mph and turn very, VERY slowly.
4. The Kremlin Hot Tub
The Russian ability to MacGyver some fun into their drab lives clearly starts young. Look at how proud these Russian tsars are in their watery Kremlin. Filling your house with water is an incredibly audacious move considering that one hole in that plastic could ruin your whole house. On the other hand, when it’s cold enough outside to freeze your eyelids to your eyeballs and you want a pool, this is really the only way to go. Hopefully that radiator is making the pool extra toasty, although you have to wonder how long it will take for that plastic to melt and create a biblical flood in the living room.
3. The Wood Burning Car Stove
In the U.S., if your car’s heat stopped working you would say “aw shoot, I’ll take it to the shop in a few days.” Russians can’t do this for a few reasons: 1. It’s cold enough to freeze your nuts off. You need heat NOW. 2. There aren’t just affordable car mechanics because the population density is absurdly low. 3. There is only crumbling transportation infrastructure so just getting the parts to a mechanic is incredibly difficult. In this situation, building a wood burning stove in the back of your car is actually the perfect solution. Getting firewood is no problem. Just hope you don’t die of carbon monoxide poisoning.
2. Water Skiing Won’t Stop For Communism
There are a few details in this photo that make it an incredible find. This guy is riding a perfect, majestic, ride-into-battle horse in a goddamn North Face and sweatpants. But his clothes are deceiving. This guy has such determination in his eyes you’d think he was riding into battle. His friend on the water skis would look the part of a water skier if not for the winter hat he has to wear because Russia is freezing. The girl in a bikini and crocs, on the other hand, is putting them to shame, completely unfazed by the cold. The industrial cranes in the background building what appears to be a snowbank are just the cherries on top. Perfection.
1. The Bargain Architect
The magic of this picture is that inspires so many questions. How many people clambered up to that door before the chair was placed there? Was the radiator built first? If so, why not place the door to the side of it. On the other side of the door is there an equally large drop? Was the architect drunk? Or maybe he was just experimenting? If you ever thought that your high school was poorly built, or you weren’t too fond of the asbestos in your community center, just be thankful you don’t live in Russia. As has been mentioned, Russians are experts at fixing things and making them work. What are generally less common in Russia are robust building standards.
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