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    It's very big.
    "I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside An Enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest."
    Winston Churchill, on the Soviet Union's invasion of Poland in 1939.

    Well, we're unwrapping it.

    Stuff to help you understand the Russian Federation and its predecessors, thus avoiding Glorious Mother Russia and making it easier to read Doctor Zhivago.

    Rossiyane and Russkie

    There are two words in Russian that mean "Russians":

    • Rossiyane—citizens of the Russian Federation and the RSFSR before that. An unpopular label in Russia, mostly used in government propaganda and thought by most as an example of Political Correctness Gone Mad.
    • Russkie—ethnic Russians. Were called "Great Russians" (Velikorossy) before 1917 (not used today, except for historical purposes).
      • Old generalized distinctive terms are: Great Russia (now just "Russia"), Small Russia ("Malorossia", now "Ukraine"), White Russia (verbatim: "Belorussia"), and New Russia ("Novorossia", now Southern Russia and some parts of eastern and south Ukraine). Derivative terms refers to inhabitants of those territories. E.g. even if semi-nomadic Don Cossacks ethnically were not exactly the same as their neighbours, they still lived in "Small Russia" (Nikolai Gogol who lived there used this common term when it was relevant). This is why the tsar was referred to as "Emperor and Autocrat of All the Russias".

    These two designations obviously don't overlap 100%. When it becomes necessary to distinguish between the two, the Russian words will be used.

    Russian flag. Its colors represent the three Russian specialties: cold snow, cool vodka and hot lead respectively.





    Mythology and religion

    Traditions and customs

    And remember, Soviet Russia has useful notes on you!