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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, Sept. 20

Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.

Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.

Sunday, Sept. 21

Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.

Monday, Sept. 22

Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.

Tuesday, Sept. 23

Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.

Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.

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