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Talking Smack About Ukrainians and Russians

Published: July 25, 2014 (Issue # 1821)

Photo: Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

Рашка и Хохландия: Russia and Ukraine, derogatory slang

Here at The Moscow Times language desk, I've been trawling the interwebs, looking for new Russian words and phrases. My latest haul comes largely from the comments sections of online media where folks "discuss" the Ukrainian and Russian conflict by flinging insults at each other. I got interested in the insults.

Chauvinistic Russians call Ukraine Хохландия, which comes from хохол, the topknot of hair traditionally worn by Ukrainian men and a slang word for Ukrainians. This is literally the Land of Topknots, which would sound rather lyrical if it wasn't appallingly derogatory. In one "discussion" of who shot down MH17, someone writes: Хохляндия не заграница — она всегда была частью России. (Topknotland is not a foreign country — it was always a part of Russia).

Other insulting names include Укропия (Dill-land), from укропы (Dills). Here is a comment on the Ukrainian orphans taken into Russia: Укропия вопит. Укропы хотят своих сирот обратно. (Dill-land is making a ruckus. The Dills want their orphans back).

Ukrainians are also called the insulting укры and their country — УкРуины (a play on Ukraine and ruins.) УкРуины? Так это не страна, а выдуманная большевиками территория, находящаяся как раковая опухоль, в терминальной стадии разложения (Ukruins? Come on, it's not a country. It's a territory invented by the Bolsheviks that is like a cancer in its terminal stage of decomposition).

Ukrainians might call Russians the derogatory term москали, which originally meant Muscovites, or кацапы, a word with an interesting and somewhat ambiguous history. Many sources say it comes from "как цап" (like a goat) and was used by clean-shaven Ukrainians to refer to the bearded Russians. But other sources assert that it came from the Turkic word кассаб or касап, which originally meant a butcher. It was most famously used by Nikolai Gogol: Проклятые кацапы … едят даже щи с тараканами (Damned northerners … they even eat cabbage soup with cockroaches).

Today Ukrainians might call the invading Russians колорады (Colorados). This is a reference to the striped St. George ribbons that Russian patriots wear, which are reminiscent of the destructive striped Colorado beetles. Очень жаль, что образ Матери Божьей осквернён руками колорадов. (It's such a shame that the image of the Mother of God was defiled by the hands of Colorados).

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Saturday, Oct. 25

AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at

Sunday, Oct. 26

Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.

Monday, Oct. 27

Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).

Tuesday, Oct. 28

The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.

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