By Mark J. Stoddard, Co-Founder, Heart of Russia Cruises
1. Russia has 9 time zones, two more time zones than the USA...sort of. The USA has 7 from Maine to Alaska/Hawaii, but technically, the USA has one for Samoa and one for Chamorro, wherever that is.
2. Before the “putsch” or overthrow of communism in August, 1991, it was illegal to advertise, or to run a private business although thousands of businesses had already been started…quietly but profitably.
3. Viktor Kikol, one of the leaders tasked with writing the new Russian Constitution in 1991, freely admitted his template was from Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.
4. The USA and Russia are only 2.4 miles apart but 21 hours different. Check out the islands between Alaska and Siberia.
5. Tsarina Katherine’s closest adviser, Grigori Potemkin, wanted to make sure her expedition from the cold winters of St. Petersburg to the warm waters of the Black Sea and Yalta was filled with local peasant’s admiration for his tsarina. So, he built a series of phony village fronts, staffed with local peasants waving to the Tsarina as she passed by. From that came the name Potemkin Village. Sort of like Hollywood, “behind all that phony tinsel and glass, is REAL tinsel and glass.”
6. A serf in Russia was a slave in every sense of the word. When Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, that gave Tsar Alexander II his template for freeing serfs in 1861. It may have also gotten him murdered as well. Several attempts were made despite his liberalizing laws toward the “people’s will.” When the would-be assassins failed, Alexander II brutally repressed them, stoking more attempts that ended in a bomb killing him. The ornate cathedral, Savior on the Spilled Blood is one of the most spectacular interiors in the world and was built on the spot in St. Petersburg when the tsar was killed.
7. In the early 1990’s many cities the Soviet’s renamed to honor modern communists were changed back to their names under the Tsars including St. Petersburg to Leningrad to St. Petersburg, Volgograd to Stalingrad to Volgograd and Nishni Novgorod to Gorki to Nishni Novgorod.
8. To keep Soviet soldiers from surrendering, Koba (Josef Stalin), issued a decree at the Battle of Stalingrad that any Soviet soldier captured by the Nazis would be executed upon his return.
9. The Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War produced casualties of about 20,000 per day, for 3 days. Likewise, the Battle of Stalingrad produced casualties of about 20,000 per day but lasted 180 days.
10. Between World War I, Stalin’s purges, and World War II, the USSR lost 80+% of its 18-39 year old men. After WWII, Stalin issued a decree to the women of the USSR that it was their duty and honor to have many children. Baby boys were coveted. This may have led a decade or two later to a skyrocketing divorce rate. The boys were pampered by their mothers and the brides were in no mood to pamper them after marriage.
11. In September, 1990, the only radio station in the entire Soviet Union was TASS. In spite of the USSR’s official belief system being atheism and dialectic materialism, when I was interviewed on a nation-wide broadcast about business, their first question was, “How does your belief in God affect your businesses?” Their next question was, “How does your belief in God affect your family?”