Guest post - 5 ways to offend a Russian

This is a guest post written my friend who's been in Moscow for the past 5 years. He's the original expat recluse and an expert at offending people of all nationalities. He's also a powerlifting over 40s champion and quite possibly a psychopath.

(If you like this post, or just want to flame the shit out of him, check out his blog at:

5 ways to offend a Russian

5. Whistle indoors 
Russians are very superstitions. And there is nothing better to wind most Russians up than simply whistling indoors. Try it and see the reaction you get. It can be used as a great weapon in your wind-a-Russian-up arsenal (that's if you're that way out).

The reason - it is said that if you whistle indoors you will become bankrupt. In other words, YOU will lose all your money. That's right, it's the person who whistles who will lose their money, not someone else. But this doesn't matter, whistle indoors and most Russians will flip their lid. Probably, somewhere along the line, Russians have come to equate whistling with simply losing money, regardless of who is doing the whistling or who is doing the losing.

I've personally driven numerous Russians crazy doing this to the point of seriously offending them... i'm a whistler by nature! I like whistling. Tell me to stop and I'll continue. 

4. Better
They hate this one. Call your country better than Russia and expect a reaction. In fact, call anything in your country better than the same thing in Russia and they hate that, too.

But this gets tricky, at least it used to for me. How do you answer the often asked question of :

"Do you like it here?" 

Which before you have a chance to answer is quickly followed by:

"Surely it's not better than England?"

In the past, I would quickly blurt out:

"No, of course it's not better than England." 

Wrong move. As soon as those words "not better" came out I was as good as being on a one-way trip to the last Gulag in Siberia. The one they built especially for foreigners that offend Russians in their own country and to their face. 

What the offended didn't wait for though was the follow up:

"No, of course it's not better than England. But, it's not worse either. It's just different. Some things are better there, some here."

And this is true! Some things are better here than there, others definitely not. 

3. Worse
They hate this one even more or at least as much. Call your country or its people worse than  Mother Russia or Russians and they often get their backs up. Why? By calling yourself worse  you are in fact saying you're better in some way. Russians don't like to be beaten. Ever.

Statement: "We drink more than you English!"
Answer:      "No you don't actually."
Retort:        "Yes we do."
Answer:      "No you don't. You drink more vodka and battery acid, but that's about it."
Retort:        "You think you're better than us. Just because you're English."
Answer:      "No, just giving an honest answer."
Retort:        "Pashol ti"

Short and sweet. 

2. The Leader
The vast majority of Russians I 've met don't particularly care for their leader. But maybe this isn't a true reflection of Russians as a whole though. Maybe it's just been a coincidence that i've met the ones who don't like him.  Who knows? It's difficult to tell. There definitely are many who do like him.

This doesn't mean though that you can necessarily say something bad about him to a Russian's face. Many Russians are patriotic. As in VERY patriotic. And the leader of their country is still THEIR leader. Say something bad about him and expect something like:

 "So yours is better is he?" or "What give's you the right to criticize our leader? Get out of our country if you don't like it?"

Fair enough, I suppose. Luckily, I'm not a political person, so the subject rarely comes up.

1. Barbarians 
 This one is simply mean, but funny all the same. WARNING: The reaction can lead to violence.

I'm in a gym talking to a guy. It is obvious he doesn't really like foreigners or at the very least has an inferiority complex around them. The conversation goes something like this:

Guy - "How often do you go back to England?" 
Me -  "Not very often. I haven't been back to civilization in ages!"  A little smile comes across my face after I say it, presuming the Russian will at least find it amusing. But it doesn't go down too well. 

The guy, called Nikolai, doesn't look in the slightest bit amused. His eyes widen, he takes on a stare, his forehead starts bulging. He looks like he's about to kick off. I should say, we aren't the only people here. There is a good few other Russians, too. But I don't really take in their reactions. I'm concentrating on Nikolai, fully expecting a dumbbell to be thrown across the gym at my head. He eventually responds in speech:

Guy - "I'd like to see you say that to some of my friends.They have a meeting once a week in the middle of Perovo Metro station. They're a skinhead group. Say that to them and see what they say. You won't be laughing then."

Oh dear, trust me to be talking to a friend of the local skinhead Kingpin.  

Me - "You're a skinhead are you? I laugh,  "I hate skinheads." They're weak-minded pieces of shit"

The room is dead quiet. That is except for the breath of Nikolai. I can tell he isn't sure of what to do. Here he is surrounded by his brethren, being basically called a fool to his face by a foreigner. 

I, on the other hand, am just standing as calm as can be, with the same stupid smirk I always have. Totally unconcerned with what might become.

But, Nikolai second guesses himself. He turns away and gives a "Huh!" 

As for me, well I don't respond. I just start whistling... VERY loudly.  

Before you ask, "Pashol ti!" = get lost / piss off

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble Facebook Twitter


Anonymous said...

HA! I enjoyed this one. I haven't insulted any russians yet, but I did get strange if not shocked reactions when I was whistling outside on my way back to my apartment. I was told it calls for demons - but bankrupt works just as well.

Lt. Columbo on July 8, 2013 at 12:57 PM said...

Yeah, whistling is a big no-no!

Unknown on September 11, 2013 at 6:37 AM said...

You could add 'wearing a hat indoors' to the list. There were many times when I lived in Russia in which I would smack someone's hand away from physically trying to take my hat off. That can get annoying and makes me want to keep my hat on all of the time. :-)

Lt. Columbo on September 12, 2013 at 12:55 PM said...

I only once offended an older Russian lady just because i didnt take my hat of in her presence!

Anonymous said...

Did Darwin have anything to say about Russians?

Lt. Columbo on April 30, 2014 at 7:32 PM said...

just that they are very proud and get offended super easily

Unknown on May 5, 2014 at 1:07 PM said...

That's evil :-) I would probably not find it that funny if I was a Russian. I laugh with English people and ven with my own kind but never that straight in their face (unless they say something about my kind to me).

Lt. Columbo on May 6, 2014 at 1:33 PM said...

You have to watch it with Russians at times as they really do get offended easily, especially by people like my friend who wrote this post :)

Anonymous said...

all very true!! i am a whistler also but found myself not allowed to whistle inside at all! i get shouted at because i know better but i struggle to fight the urge sometimes!!

happily i am allowed to whistle all i want out doors! plus i'm a pretty good and can hold a tune :)

Lt. Columbo on June 30, 2014 at 1:14 PM said...

i sometimes whistle inside just to be rebellious!

Post a Comment


You need this book in your life

Russian language kicking your ass?

" />

Try a better approach to Russian

| An english perspective on life in Moscow, Russia © 2009. All Rights Reserved | Template Style by My Blogger Tricks .com | Design by Brian Gardner | Back To Top |