Russia – is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a riddle. Those are the words of Winston Churchill when he shared his view on Russia. Old legendary tales of the Rus, their runes, the magic of it’s landscape or the tales of Slavic spirituality all make a mixture that Russia is today. It’s history is full of mysteries and little secrets that made it the way it is today. Here you are going to see some of the more common mysteries that surround Russia and it’s existence.
1. What does the word “Russia” mean?
There are several theories of the origin of the name “Rus”. One Theory says it is based on the place of the name “Ros” (by a river), while others say it comes from the words “Rotsi (a Swedish/Finish tribe). Some still firmly believe ancient Rus where descendants of the Sarmatian and Scynthian tribes who called themselves “Roxolans”. Other theory says Russian name originated from a tribe that raided Constantinople also called Rus (red) thanks to the Ibn Fadlan who met Vikings and said about them that “They are like palm trees, ruddy and red”
2. Who was Rurik?
Rurik is one of the most famous people in Russian history, a man that started it all. Many historians connect him to Rauric Jutland, a Danish king of a dying dynasty. Other branch of historians believe him to be a Swedish kings Eirik Emundarson. Slavic branch of historians believes that Ruriak was the leader of Obodrits-Slavic (Polabian Slavs) and that he came from island called Rugen. This is an ongoing dispute between Swedish and Russian historians and obviously both sides base their national history upon those events and some of these figures.
3. What was the Mongol-Tatar yoke?
Mongol-Tatar yoke is an invented and artificial term in XVIII century. Yoke as a term appeared in XV century and it occurred at the Kievan synopsis when Polish historian Jan Dlugosz translated the Latin term “jugum” and after that historical theories about “freeing of Mongol-Tatar yoke” emerge. This is again another point at which many historians do not agree with each other. Some Russian historians consider relations between Russia and Mongol Horde as a union, as the Horde had undeniable role in the rise of Moscow as the capital of Russia.
4. When the two-headed eagle appeared in Russia?
The origin of the two-headed eagle appeared as the state seal during the rule of Ivan III, it was accepted and “brought” into Russian Sophia Palaeolugus. It is still unclear why the symbol appeared at such time, some connect it to Byzantine influence, others on Habsburgs that used two-headed eagle even half century before Russians and third set of historians believe it to be connected to Golden Horde as they had coins with such symbol.
5. Where did the Cossacks come from?
Cossack are one of the most interesting part of both Russian and Ukrainian history. Many still hardly understand who Cossacks are, while their homeland is located in the North Caucasus and Sea of Azov and western Turkistan. They origin wise are a colorful people that have a pedigree connected back to Scynthians, Alans, Khazards, Goths and Slavs. Today they represent several ethnic groups from Moldovans, Turks, Estonians, Tajiks but their origins still is unresolved.
6. Did the Ivan The Terrible kill his son?
You have heard the story how Ivan the Terrible killed his son? It was a verdict of Ivan the Terrible as a aftermath of his fight with him over his sons wife and her long unappropriated hair. In 1963 his grave was opened and his body was examined to find trances of poison. However as nothing worthwhile was found his death still remains mistery while the version of that murder is based on the papal legate Antonia Possevino, meaning this still is classified as a myth and a legend.
7. Why Did Ivan The Terrible abdicated the throne?
Ivan the Terrible in his older age became paranoid from fears of mutiny, uprisings, traitors in the court so in 1575 he abdicated the throne and placed the Tatar Khan Simeon Bekbulatovich as a ruler instead of himself. His contemporaries did not understand this action of their monarch’s venture. Reason behind this was that Ivan was afraid of the Sorcerers prediction that that year a great Moscow Tsar will die. Ivan did not want to die and placed another ruler instead of him to avoid death.
8. Why did Peter The Great try to Europeanize Russia?
Peter the Great was one of the Russian rulers that decided to reshape his country. He wanted to remove the Golden Horde stygma from Russia after he returned from the Grand Embassy from Europe. He was so focused on his new mission his closest servants thought he was replaced by an impostor because they were surprised by the sudden Europeanization of Russia that he started. During years of his rule he has changed so much that he began a large-scale destruction of old Russian antiquty and built St.Petersburg that we know today. His work you must admits was impressive and today St.Petersburg is one of the most popular tourist destinations in both Europe and Russia. However was he replaced by an impostor, it’s onto you to judge.
9. Where did the money from the sale of Alaska go?
One of the largest sales ever was the Russia selling Alaska to United States of America. This was one of the biggest moneys transfers of it’s time and the gold bars were transported from London and suddenly the caravan has sank. Some other documents say that most of the money was sold abroad on equipment to buld railways such as Kursk – Kiev, Ryzan, Kozlovsky, Moscow – Ryzan and so on. Did someone get insanely rich? Who knows.
10. Who shot the royal family?
One of the biggest Russian tales is set during the communist revolution and shooting the Russian roysal family, Romanovs. There was an investigation placed by Vladimir Solovyov to understand why and who ordered their execution but many argue Lenin did not give such order. Some historians argue this was not an order but rather the murder of Romanovs was an act of one person that did it out of it’s own will. Who was it? It is still now known.
11. Where did the “Kolchak’s gold” go?
Fate of the largest gold reserve of the royal Rossi often called “gold Kolchak” is still unknown. Over 490 tons of pure gold bars was stoled by one Russian theory by Czehoslovak corps, while other theory says it was hidden by orders of Kolchak. However no such gold stash was ever found, or at least we didn’t hear of it. There is also a version that gold is “settled” in the European banks (wouldn’t be a shock, right?)
12. Was the Tunguska Event a meteorite impact?
Tungunska event is one of the largest mysteries in Russia. After the explosion a search expedition was dispatched to find meteorite fragments, but none was found and there was no crater found as well. Many were confused and number of theories started to emerge from alien spacecraft impact, to icy comet that melted away to Nikola Tesla experiment. Still a mystery!
13. How did the Bolsheviks took power so easily?
In February of 1917 only 5,000 people was in the Bolshevik Party, in October of the same year over 350,000. How did this group grow so rapidly and become the most powerful force in present day Russia? One theory says the group was funded by German money to destabilize Russian Empires internal politics but Revolution was unplanned further event of such funding. True or not, we will never know but it sure is.
14. Why did Stalin decided to repress it’s own people?
There is no consensus among historians about the causes of Stalinist repression in Russia. According to one version, Stalin struggled with the regional authorities in try of preventing elections in the Supreme Soviet rule of the USSR. On the other hand, the repression was a mean of “social engineering” a continuation of collectivization and dispossession. Finally, there is a version that the Soviet Union, Stalin was preparing for war and eliminated the country’s “fifth column” (Russian elite who do not demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm in supporting the official policy).
15. Why did Stalin return to service in the Church?
Sudden change in the attitude of Stalin to the church after the war, historians still can not explain. Some say that it was a pragmatic course leader, who needed “buckles” to mobilize. According to another version, Stalin was secretly religious, his bodyguard Yuri Solovyov recalled that Stalin had prayed, and even confessed. Artem Sergeev recalled in an interview that Stalin never said anything bad about the Church.