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.
George Orwell’s use of 2+2=5 as a catchphrase of the dystopian government in his book 1984 is based on Joseph Stalin’s use of that equation in propaganda. Soviet posters declared “2 + 2 plus the enthusiasm of the workers = 5” long before Orwell wrote his novel. The USSR reached the goals of that Five Year Plan in four years, therefore meaning that the “enthusiasm of the workers” did five years worth of work in four years.
Upon being told he couldn’t go to Disneyland due to security concerns, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev went berserk. He said afterwards, “What do you have there – rocket launching pads? Is there a cholera epidemic down there? Have gangsters taken control of the place? Your police are strong enough to lift up a bull; surely they are strong enough to take care of gangsters?” Khrushchev left LA the next morning.
In 1975, a Soviet naval officer led a mutiny onboard a frigate with the aim of toppling the government of Brezhnev. It failed after a standoff with half of the Soviet Baltic fleet, but an article about it inspired an insurance salesman named Tom Clancy to write his book, The Hunt for Red October.
The first Soviet probe sent to Mars’ moon Phobos failed due to user error. While the probe was still on its way to Mars, an impatient technician who didn’t want to wait for his code to be proofread unintentionally sent a command to the probe to shut down and there was no way to turn it back on.
After the incident, an investigation was immediately ordered to determine who was responsible for the failure. Nevertheless, disciplinary action was postponed until the completion of the Phobos 2 mission. This was to prevent the demoralization of the Phobos 2 team. Any penalization of the Phobos 1 team would create anxiety among the Phobos 2 team and reduce the chances of mission success.
This postponement of punitive measures was urged by IKI director Roald Sagdeev. He quoted the former secret service chief under Stalin, Lavrenti Beria, who said “Let’s make them work for now. We can shoot them all later.”
When USSR premier Nikita Khrushchev visited IBM’s Silicon Valley research facility in 1959 he showed indifference to computing technology, but he was so impressed by their buffet style cafeteria that he instructed factories across the Soviet Union to implement the self service dining concept.
In the Soviet Union you would have to take your window wipers with you when you parked your car or they would be stolen due to a shortage of auto parts.
The US Govt. used shell companies to import Titanium from the Soviet Union, to build the Blackbird SR-71, so they could spy on the Soviet Union.
Pre-dissolution Soviet comedians had to have all their jokes approved by the Department of Humor. Jokes about politics, religion, and sex were banned, which left mostly jokes about animals.
A Soviet soccer player was so popular that when he was sent to the Siberian gulags during Stalin’s Great Purge in the 1930s, he was treated rather well as the gulag commanders were also his fans, who gave him better quarters and food rations, and was even asked to coach the local teams.