While every nation has their share of crazy facts, Russia, which has a surface area roughly the size of the former planet Pluto, is perhaps as strange in nature as it is large and cold.
Here are some interesting and baffling facts about Russia that you might not have been aware of. Hold on to your socks.
1. Russian animals: defense cats, commuter dogs, and bear addicts
Now, don’t take this the wrong way – in no way are animals tax-paying citizens with jobs. Except some animals do have jobs. As well as drug addictions.
Russian bears are addicted to jet fuel, and have been documented sniffing containers left in the Kronotsky Nature Reserve to get high. After breathing in the gasoline for several minutes, they lie back in a state of nirvana, then stalk helicopters to catch any leftover fuel drips.
Cats are more upstanding citizens. According to the Voice of Russia, the State Hermitage Museum in St.Petersburg ‘hires’ guard cats to protect its art against rodents. The felines even carry passports to prove they are qualified for duty. There is also a traveling circus called the Moscow Cat Theater that showcases cats.
And let’s not forget man’s best friend. Canines all over Russia have learned to navigate the subway systems, commuting to and from destinations as any Russian urbanite would.
2. Russian elite: Intimidation, plush ambulances, and laser power
Speaking of dogs, did you know Vladimir Putin brought his large dog to negotiations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who has a canine phobia), in order to gain a psychological edge?
Putin is only one of Russia’s crazy elite that has used unusual tactics to go about their daily business. Rich Russian businessmen have been recently discovered hiring ambulances with pimped out interiors to get through Moscow’s notoriously congested traffic, the Daily Mail reports.
Similarly excessive, Russian oligarch and billionaire Roman Abramovich has a 1.2 billion dollar yacht called Eclipse, which is complete with a laser shield that’s purpose is to zap paparazzi cameras and consequentially obliterate any picture they might be unfortunate enough to snap.
3. Russian’s excessive vices: Vodka, heroin, and crocodile skin
If even the local bears have addictions, it should come to no surprise that some Russian citizens might have alcohol and drug related issues of their own.
Let’s start with the booze – which, by the way, included only drinks with over 10% alcohol until 2011 (all other drinks were considered “foodstuff.”) In 1945, after it was announced that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Soviet Union, the nation celebrated for 22 hours until the entire country ran out of Vodka.
And while we’re talking about Vodka, it’s worth mentioning that when a heat wave swept the nation in 2010, about 1,200 died, the Telegraph reports – most from drinking Vodka while swimming, or children drowned due to their drunk supervisors’ lack of supervision.
As for drugs, Russia is the largest consumer of heroin in the world. There were about 2 and a half million heroin addicts in Russia as of 2010, the BBC says. Other drugs are also creeping up in popularity, like the flesh-eating drug Krokodil, named because users’ skin becomes dark and scaly like a crocodile.
4. Update 2/7/14: Russian meteor studded in select Sochi Winter Olympic medals.
There’s already a lot of crazy surrounding this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia – a controversial location.
One interesting and rather fun fact, however, is that Olympic winners on February 15th will receive gold medals studded with pieces of last year’s Chelyabinsk meteorite, Reuters says.
The date will mark the one year anniversary of the day the damaging meteor hit Russia. To honor both global events, 50 medals in total are being struck with inserted bits of the space rock; all gold winners will receive these special medals that day.
Do you have any more crazy facts about Russia or other curious nations at add to this list? Tweet us @curiousmatic.