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The World According to Russian Stereotypes

Image: Pixabay

Image: Pixabay

In early November, Vladimir Putin suddenly signaled his support for new federal legislation designed to clarify the government’s formal understanding of “the Russian nation.” A vague, symbolic initiative, the Kremlin’s push to codify the meaning of Russia as a nation-state has reignited a centuries-old debate about “the Russian idea,” as well as work on this subject from intellectuals and scholars across the world.

Alexander Uspensky's map of Russian domestic stereotypes. Image: Yod News!

It was in this spirit that Alexander Uspensky published a map on the website Yod News featuring Russia’s various regions and ethnicities, labeled with stereotypes gleaned from autocomplete suggestions generated by the website Yandex, Russia’s most popular Internet search engine. To make the map, Uspensky searched for the word “why,” followed by the name of a group of people, such as “Muscovites,” “St. Petersburgers,” and so on.

Uspensky used the autocomplete suggestions to determine the top stereotype for people of a particular region in Russia. Muscovites, for instance, were found to be “unkind,” while the defining characteristic of people from St. Petersburg is that “they don’t like Muscovites.”

RuNet Echo has applied Uspensky’s methodology to groups across the world, in order to uncover Russian Internet users’ most common stereotypes about foreigners. The list below is far from complete, but it features the most popular searches on the RuNet, when it comes to foreigners. Unlike Uspensky’s study, we have listed Yandex’s top three searches for each group.

The United States 🇺🇸

Why do Americans say “oh my gosh”?
Why are Americans afraid of Russians?
Why are Americans afraid of clowns?

Mexico 🇲🇽

Why do Mexicans flee to the United States?
Why are Mexicans so brutal?
Why do Mexicans eat spicy food?

Cuba 🇨🇺

Why don’t Cubans like Americans?
Why don’t Cubans like Russians?
Why did Cubans support the revolution?

Canada 🇨🇦

Why did Canadians play without helmets in 1972?
Why don’t Canadians like Russians?
Why are Canadians the villains in [the TV show] South Park?

Brazil 🇧🇷

Why don’t Brazilians like Argentinians?
Why do Brazilians speak Portuguese?
Why are Brazilians so good at soccer?

Argentina 🇦🇷

Why don’t Argentinians like the British?
Why are Argentinians white?
Why do Argentinians say Mexicans descended from the Aztecs?

Europe 🇪🇺

Why do Europeans wear their wedding rings on their left hands?
Why did Europeans seek a sea route to India?
Why did Europeans know so little about the peoples of Africa during the Middle Ages?

The United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Why don’t the British like to sit on their hands?
Why did the British oppose new public telephone booths?
Why do the British want to leave the European Union?

France 🇫🇷

Why don’t the French like Russians?
Why do the French eat frogs?
Why are the French unable to pronounce “r” and “l” properly?

Germany 🇩🇪

Why didn’t Germans like the Jews?
Why did Germans exterminate the Jews?
Why were Germans afraid of hand-to-hand combat?

Poland 🇵🇱

Why don't Poles like Russians?
Why do Poles hate Russians?
Why don't Poles like Russia?

Italy 🇮🇹

Why don’t Italians get fat?
Why do Italians look like people from the North Caucasus?
Why do Italians like Russian women?

Ukraine 🇺🇦

Why don’t Ukrainians like Russians?
Why do Ukrainians kneel?
Why do Ukrainians say “h” and not “g”?

Estonia 🇪🇪

Why are Estonians slow?
Why don’t Estonians like Russians?
Why do Estonians take the front seat, when sitting down in a taxi van?

Latvia 🇱🇻

Why don’t Latvians like Russians?
Why do Latvians still call Russians “krevz”?
Why don’t Latvians like Lithuanians?

Lithuania 🇱🇹

Why don’t Lithuanians like Russians?
Why don’t Lithuanians like Belarusians?
Why are Lithuanians tall?

Belarus 🇧🇾

Why don’t Belarusians like Russians?
Why are Belarusians so built and handsome?
Why don’t Belarusians speak Belarusian?

Armenia 🇦🇲

Why are Armenians so wealthy?
Why are Armenians so clever?
Why do Armenians wear their wedding rings on their left hands?

Africa

Why are Africans black?
Why do Africans run so fast?
Why don’t Africans become more advanced?

Egypt 🇪🇬

Why did Egyptians worship Amon-Ra as the supreme god?
Why did Egyptians call Nefertiti “the mistress of happiness”?
Why did Egyptians worship cats?

Arabs

Why do Arabs write backwards?
Why do Arabs like Russian girls?
Why were Arabs able to conquer large territories easily?

Jews 🕍

Why don’t Jews like Armenians?
Why don’t Jews eat pork?
Why are Jews smart?

Israel 🇮🇱

Why can’t Israelis come to a peace settlement with Palestinians?
Why aren’t Israelis Christians?
Why do Israelis marry Russians?

Islam 🕌

Why don’t Muslims eat pork?
Why don’t Muslims use toilet paper?
Why do Muslims say “amen”?

Iran 🇮🇷

Why don’t Iranians wear neckties?
Why are Iranians fighting in Syria?
Why are Iranians Shiites?

Syria 🇸🇾

Why aren't Syrians fleeing to Russia?
Why are Syrians fleeing to Europe?
Why don't Syrians fight for their own country?

Turkey 🇹🇷

Why don’t Turks like Armenians?
Why do Turks drink coffee with water?
Why do Turks call all Russian women “Natasha”?

India 🇮🇳

Why don't Indians kiss?
Why do Indians shake their heads?
Why don't Indians swim in the sea?

Asia

Why do Asians look younger?
Why are Asians shorter?
Why do Asians eat with chopsticks?

China 🇨🇳 🇹🇼 🇭🇰

Why don’t the Chinese get fat?
Why don’t the Chinese drink milk?
Why don’t the Chinese like amber?

Japan 🇯🇵

Why don’t the Japanese age?
Why are the Japanese thin?
Why do the Japanese live so long?

Korea 🇰🇷 🇰🇵

Why don’t Koreans sweat?
Why do Koreans wear masks on their faces?
Why are Koreans thin?

Vietnam 🇻🇳

Why do the Vietnamese wear masks?
Why don’t the Vietnamese like the Chinese?
Why are the Vietnamese thin?

Remarkably, Russian Internet users’ chief searches for various nationalities appear to mirror significant geopolitical events relevant to Russia. For instance, one of the most common questions Russian Internet users ask about people from different countries is why those people dislike Russians, and this question is most common in searches for information about nations with which Moscow's relations have recently deteriorated.

Popular Internet searches in regions where Moscow has less invested politically and fewer cultural ties, meanwhile, seem to focus on questions that are physiological, and sometimes outright bizarre, like those about weight and aging.

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