I suspect that the act of “russian roulette” is just another in a long line of alledged and unsavory activities that one country attributes to another that they feel is somehow “savage” or otherwise “below” them. We Americans speak of “Welshing” on a bet, being an “Indian Giver”, “Gyping” or “Jewing” someone, etc. We call a condom a “French postcard” or an “English Raincoat”. Well, you get the idea…


I am editing in the link to the column, to make it easier for posters to know what this topic is all about: Did the Russians ever play Russian roulette?
– CKDextHavn

[Note: This message has been edited by CKDextHavn]

And the French called Syphilis the “Spanish disease,” while the Spanish called it the “French disease.” I always figured we as kids ethnocentrically called anything “Chinese” that we saw as backwards or weird; Chinese cuts in line, etc.

I always wondered if there were teenagers in China running around their rickshaw (sp?) yelling, “American Firedrill!” :slight_smile:

Probably, although I doubt many Chinese use rickshaws anymore. Communist China, especially in the Mao Tse-Tung era, was very heavily China-centric. Everyone else was, at best, an Uncivilized Barbarian.

Despite what the PC crowd would have you believe, ethnocentrim is not just an American, caucasian, or modern phenomenon.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

Addendum to above:
I say “use to be” because China currently seems to be on a big let’s-kiss-up-to-the-foreign-investors kick.

I also heard of another game bored Russian guards used to play, although this ones seems to be from long before WW1.

They would stand with their heels off the edge of a tower or other high spot and take shots of alcohol.

I assume you won if you didn’t fall off and die.

It does seem pretty far-fetched, but like Cecil said, it tells ya something about the Russians that you don’t dismiss it right away…

No, it tells you something about your perceptions of the Russians that you don’t dismiss it right away.

I don’t, actually, but that doesn’t tell us anything about Russians, as I’m not one.


Actually, as I recall, such a practice was described by Tolstoy in, I believe, The Brothers Karamazov. It involved Russian officers standing with their heels hanging over the edge of a building ledge while they chugged from a bottle of vodka.

Ah . . . the carefree life of the czarist bourgeoisie!

(I’m not sure if this is a troll but…) The Brothers K was written by Dostoyevsky, not Tolstoy.

heretic: No, it tells ya something about Russians. I know enough about them to know that their reputation is not completely undeserved.

The story about Russian officers drinking vodka with their heels hanging over the ledges of buildings is from Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

John Hobson

Konrad, I’m not arguing with you about that. It’s just the subtle point that “it tells ya something about the Russians that you don’t dismiss it right away” doesn’t make sense - whether you dismiss it or not doesn’t tell you anything about the Russians, if you see what I mean. Never mind.


During the years 1958-1960 I attended the University of Washington, where I majored in Russian history and language. Our instructors had all fled Russia during the civil war. One of them was a former Czarist army officer. He told many stories of his experiences in the army and mentioned incidents involving Russian roulette and “cuckoo,” although he didn’t use those words.

Thanks to my fellow Dopers for the literary corrections. I can only plead that my post followed hours immersed in the deepest conversation with some Russian writer named Stolichnaya.

dlv…Would you believe that Tolstoy wrote it in the margins of his copy of The Brothers Karamazov?

Didn’t think so. :wink:

Last night I saw an interview with a former Soviet officer, who was talking about Afghanistan. It became very clear that at least the soldiers in the Soviet Union had a very different mindset than we in the west could comprehend. They are much more used to brutality, both giving and receiving. Their mental outlook also appears to be much more fatalistic. This man described how the soldiers would react when fellow soldiers were killed. If they weren’t personal friends, they didn’t care. The body count in Afghanistan was astounding for both sides, but the Soviet soldiers basically just hunkered down and endured. No big deal. He also described how they would capture someone, and if the person wouldn’t cooperate immediately they would just shoot him and drop the body. He seemed quite proud of the fact that they wouldn’t torture him or stab him to death. Some of these afghan rebels were only 12-13 years old. He seemed to see no problem with casually shooting them.

So not caring about strangers is a russian trait? Should I feel bad about someone I don’t know? I have a hard time even faking sympathy for someone who gets hurt/killed that I know, but don’t really care all that much for.

I can solve any problem!
Just give me a rifle and a clocktower!

Not that it couldn’t have been borrowed from "Anna Karenina, but this was a scene in the film adaptation of “War and Peace”. I remember Henry Fonda showing off in front of a bunch of Russian Army officers on a window ledge.