Russia is, shall we say, an interesting country. You really never know what to expect. From Napoleon to the Romanovs, history is full of examples of individuals, organizations and nations underestimating Russia’s capacity to surprise. Here are seven instances you might not have heard about.
Back during World War I, Romania was under threat of German invasion. In order to safeguard its gold reserves it signed a treaty with Russia, who agreed to safeguard 93 tons of gold in the Kremlin until the end of the war. This may come as a shock, but to this day Russia has failed to return the treasure.
- American Chemical Weapon Scientists and the CIA
After WWII, both the US and the USSR launched extensive chemical and biological weapons development programs. One thing in particular that the US had wanted to develop was a super nerve gas called GJ. Ultimately, after trying and failing, the US abandoned hope of making it into a useable weapon. Instead, it decided to do the next best thing: have the CIA convince the Soviets to try to make it so they would waste enormous sums of money on something the Americans thought was impossible. It worked. Or at least it worked to the extent that the Soviets spent an enormous sum of rubles trying to make the nerve gas. The only problem is they succeeded where the Americans had failed by creating a super powerful nerve gas. Better yet, the thing they developed, a nerve agent called Novichok, was even more toxic than GJ.
- The New England Patriots and Robert Kraft
Ex-KGB thug turned quasi-dictator of Russia Vladimir Putin has never really been regarded as a nice guy, but he managed to elevate his status to World Class Dick in a 2005 meeting with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He claims Vladimir Putin stole a Super Bowl ring from him in 2005. Apparently, Kraft showed Putin the ring and he pocketed it and walked off, leaving his bodyguards to remove any doubt about who was the new owner of the ring. Putin’s response to these accusations has basically been to say he has no idea what they’re talking about and all he remembers is being shown some “souvenirs.” He likes to act as if they’re making a big deal out of nothing and has offered to make Kraft a ring “so luxurious” he’ll forget all about his silly Super Bowl ring. Opulence: Putin has it.
- Angela Merkel
Putin furthered bolstered his dickish credentials in a pair of meetings he had with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel has been deeply afraid of dogs ever since she was bitten by one in the 90s. So what does Putin do the first time she visits the Kremlin as chancellor? He gives her a toy dog as a “gift.” As if that weren’t enough, the man brought his giant dog Kony with him during their next meeting. In photos of the incident you can see Merkel clearly stricken with fear while Putin smiles on dickishly.
- Game Show Contestants
Remember Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the popular game show where contestants could use various lifelines if they didn’t know the answer to a question? Well turns out some of the lifelines might be riskier than just guessing if you’re on the Russian version, where the audiences were known to intentionally mislead contestants.
- Ivan Proskurov
Let me ask you a totally hypothetical question. If you were leader of a large nation at the beginning of World War II and someone warned you that the Nazis, a country that had already invaded a lot of other countries, was planning on invading your country, what would you do? Have the guy shot, of course, just like Stalin did.
- The Parents of Gelia Markizova, the Poster Child for Soviet Propaganda
Soviet propagandists released many images portraying Josef Stalin as the greatest guy ever. One of the most famous was published in Pravda in the ‘30s and depicted him holding a little girl named Gelia Markizova. Despite all the photo did for the Cult of Stalin, that didn’t stop him from shooting her dad a year later under the pretense of his being a Japanese spy. Her mother was also arrested and sent to Kazakhstan, where she died under mysterious circumstances, like the most common cause of death during the Stalinist era.