Chess Grand Master Ossip Bernstein was arrested by the Bolshevik secret police and ordered to be shot. As the firing squad lined up, an officer asked if he was really the famous chess master. The officer made Bernstein play a game for his life against him. Bernstein won easily and was released.
During the siege of Leningrad, a Russian girl named Tanya Savicheva cronicled in her diary the deaths of all her family members during the siege of Leningrad, ending with “Everyone is dead. Only Tanya is left”.
Sergei Preminin, a Russian sailor, sacrificed his life to prevent a reactor meltdown aboard the Soviet submarine K-219. The submarine was off the coast of Bermuda and a reactor meltdown would have spread radiation across the entire North American Atlantic coast.
In 2007, the Russian company Rossiya broadcasted television footage showcasing the Russians planting a flag at the bottom of the ocean in the North Pole. A 13 year old boy from Finland noticed some of the footage the station used was from the film Titanic.
In 1967, Egypt received false intel from the Soviets that Israel was massing its troops on the Syrian border. In response, Egypt mobilized its forces in Sinai and Straits of Tiran. Israel saw the blockade of Tiran as a Casus Belli and launched a pre-emptive strike thus initiating the Six-Day War.
Abram Gannibal was a black African-born Russian nobleman in the 18th century. Sold into slavery, he was eventually freed by Peter the Great and adopted into the Emperor’s household as his godson. His great-great grandson is the celebrated author and poet Alexander Pushkin.
In 2018 the Domino’s in Russia offered up to 100 free pizzas every year for 100 years if a customer got the Domino’s logo tattooed visibly on their body. Initially intended to last a month the promotion proved to be so popular Domino’s ended it after a week with 350 accepted winners.
There is Russia’s “spacecraft graveyard” in the Altai region, where over 2,500 tons of space debris — some dozens of feet long — have rained down since the start of the Space Age. As new space junk falls, locals rush to raid the wreckage for precious metals they can sell.
The Ket people is an isolated population of 1200 in Siberia. Their language is strikingly similar in structure to the Native North American languages, and they are one of the last true hunter and gatherer societies on Earth.
In 2007 Russia planted their national flag underwater in hopes of securing the arctic’s potential natural resources. “This isn’t the 15th century,” one foreign minister said. “You can’t go around the world and just plant flags and say, ‘We’re claiming this territory.’