30 Russia Beyond articles you might have missed in 2021

Kira Lisitskaya (Photo: Konstantin Mikhalchevsky/Sputnik, Unsplash, Pixabay)
These are the best stories of the year, according to our writers and editors.

We put together this list to highlight our most interesting stories which, in many cases, were the hardest to put together. To see the list of our most popular stories according to pageviews, click here.


30. Why Russian beauty services are conquering the West

Ladies around the world are discovering the “Russian” manicure, as well as hyaluronic lip filling and eyebrow lamination. Find out why Russian beauty specialists are in high demand and what’s so special about them! 

29. Growing up alone with Dad: What’s life like for a single father in Russia?

While single mothers are quite a common occurrence, single fathers are not on everyone’s lips. In 2021, President Vladimir Putin officially established a new holiday - Father’s Day. To mark the occasion, we found out what problems single fathers in Russia face while raising their children and why some of them prefer to avoid the attention of social services.

28. How does Russia help Afghan refugees?

After the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, the radical Islamist Taliban movement (recognized as a terrorist organization in Russia) completely recaptured Afghanistan. Those who lost their jobs and wanted to quit the new regime, fled to Russia. We asked Afghan refugees about their life and what they go through in Russia.

27. How cold does it have to get for Russians to freeze? 

Russia is widely associated with snow and the cold... But is it really true that Russians are not afraid of cold weather? Read first-hand confessions from the residents of different parts of the country.

26. The first - and only - wedding held in SPACE (PHOTOS)

In 2003, a Russian cosmonaut married a U.S. citizen via video conference while he was on a space mission. However, Russian Air Force commanders were not happy with that. Read about the many repercussions the event caused and what happened to the couple after that. 


25. How Russians executed BELLS

It’s hard to believe, but up to the 19th century, bells in Russia were treated as persons. They were executed and exiled, as well as deprived of their “ears” and “tongues”. What were they found guilty for? Explore this incredible page of Russian history here.

24. How Sweden tried to snatch the Baltic from Russia

Alexey Bogolyubov. Battle of Kronstadt

In the 17th century, Sweden was a great power in Europe... However, the Great Northern War of 1700-1721 and the growing strength of the Russian Empire saw Sweden lose this status. Read more about its 18th century contest with Russia.

23. How Napoleon came to be RESPECTED in Russia

The year 2021 marked 200 years since the death of Napoleon Bonaparte. He was one of Russia’s great enemies. Despite this, a whole cult of Napoleon appeared in Russia. How come? Find out here.

22. How this Russian 'freak' conquered America

A man from the 19th century Russian backwaters had a rare disease - hypertrichosis. However, he earned fame around the world as a circus freak. Read the incredible story of “Jo Jo the dog-faced boy”, as the media dubbed him.

21. The Starostin brothers: How four famous soccer players ended up in the Gulag

Even champion soccer stars were not exempt from falling victim to the Stalinist persecutions. These four brothers were players of the Spartak football team and all of them were jailed. How was it that national sports idols ended up in prison and what happened to them after that

20. How a winemaker from Russia made Californian wine world-famous

It may be surprising, but there was a Russian man who revolutionized the American wine-making industry. Read the story of André Tchelistcheff, who could have been killed in the Russian Civil War.

19. How Germans fought for the USSR in World War II 

Sergei Volkenstein, Vyacheslav Meyer, Nikolai Gagen

Thousands of Soviet Germans were ready to fight against the Nazis. However, the authorities were against sending them to the frontline - instead, they were resettled en masse to Siberia and other remote regions. Find out why Stalin deported the Soviet Germans

18. Meet the NOTORIOUS Soviet defector who single-handedly sparked the Cold War

Igor Gouzenko fled the Soviet Union after World War II. He was widely broadcasted on U.S. TV wearing a full-face mask. The fear for his safety was not unfounded, as he revealed the secrets of the Soviet spy network. Read the story of the man who triggered a wave of arrests and the ‘Red Scare’ in the West. 

17. Why is there a monument to Soviet pilots in WUHAN!?

In 2020, the Chinese city of Wuhan became globally infamous as a coronavirus pandemic birthplace. Surprisingly, there is an eight-meter-tall obelisk in the city which carries, among others, the following inscription: “The memory of Soviet pilots will live forever in the hearts of the Chinese people.” Find out why the monument paid tribute to the Soviet servicemen.

16. 5 things that were once in place of Lenin’s Mausoleum (PHOTOS)

Now it seems that the Mausoleum is the essential part of the Red Square, however, it was only erected there in 1924. However, the plot wasn’t vacant before. A zoo, a moat, a tram line... Find out what stood in its place.


15. How major Russian poets tried to COMMUNICATE with Stalin

Self-promotion? Fear? What drove these people to appeal to Stalin and devote their verses to him. Read all about the phenomenon in our story.

14. How famous writers depicted the lives of prostitutes in Imperial Russia

The public image of a working woman has long captivated the foremost Russian writers. Injustice, poverty, moral choice, female freedom - find out which topics authors raised and how they referred to prostitutes.

13. Why bringing ‘The Lord of the Rings’ to the USSR was a quest akin to the tale itself

Amidst the Cold War, Soviet censorship was suspicious of all things Western. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ was no exception. Soviet readers captivated by the first part of the trilogy had to wait until perestroika to read the second and the third volumes of the famous saga. Read which tricks the Soviet translators used

12. 10 MAIN Russian fairy tales

These stories used to be cautionary tales inspired by everyday life, fables about animals and about fantastic creatures that lived in the forests, rivers and swamps, or fairy tales about princesses and princes. Read the tales that have now become a huge part of Russia’s national psyche


11. Check out these mind-blowing Early Cyrillic numerals!

The ancient Slavs saw a million as a flock of ravens, while a thousand of millions they attributed as darkness. Find out how they counted their money before adopting Arabic and Roman numbers.

10. How Russian differs from other Slavic languages

Russian is the most widespread of all Slavic languages, spoken by about 250 million people around the world. And modern Slavic languages have a common ancestor. But, can Slavs from different parts of the world actually understand each other? Find out in our report.

By the way, this year, we launched a whole course of the Russian language. Check out all the lessons here and have fun learning Russian with us!


9. How a place of horrible Siberian exile turned into a paradise for tourists

We didn’t cover travel topics much this year, due to the pandemic restrictions. However, we couldn’t miss that in 2021, this Russian city finally got an airport with direct flights to and from Moscow, St. Petersburg and several other big cities! Take a look at the only stone kremlin in Siberia, the beautiful Irtysh River and other things that a tourist would rest their eyes on in Tobolsk.


8. Co-founders of a Russian cryo farm battle over frozen bodies... wait, WHAT!?

This story sounds like the plot of a sci-fi horror movie. In order to save the business, a co-owner of a Russian company that cryogenically freezes dead bodies made a truly desperate move! Learn more about the scandal that followed!

7. The Russians have installed a GIANT telescope at the bottom of Lake Baikal. Why?!

A neutrino telescope is able to help us learn what was happening in the Universe millions and even billions of years ago. The possibilities of its usage will boggle your imagination!

6. Russian Spec Ops officer debunks Hollywood action movies

There are a lot of gunfights in Hollywood movies. Some of them have been choreographed with professionals and servicemen and some of them were nothing but a mere imagination of the directors. A Russian Spec Ops instructor explains if it's really possible to silence a shot with a pillow or to find shelter from a bullet behind a tree and other implausible gun scenes.

5. Just how tough is the Ratnik combat suit body armor? (VIDEO)

The new Ratnik armor is supposed to withstand up to ten direct hits from armor-piercing rounds and still be operational. Our correspondent tested its limits.

4. Russian AK vs American M-4: When and what Spec Ops guys take on missions

A Russian Spec Ops instructor elaborates on which weapon their teams take on missions and talks about pros and cons of each gun. Which one wins? The answer isn’t so obvious! 


3. 100 MAIN Russian dishes

We gathered all the Russian dishes in one article for your ultimate salivation. Read some great stories together with easy-to-make recipes here

2. How to cook borsch in a loaf of Borodinsky bread (RECIPE)

There are nearly as many borsch recipes as there are people on the planet. But here’s a special one you probably wouldn’t mind preparing. Bon appetit!

1. Black Russian: A vodka cocktail fit for an American ambassador (RECIPE)

The most famous cocktail with Russian origins. You will be surprised to find out that its roots lie in the Cold War. Read the story behind the classic drink - and learn how to prepare it properly. Cheers! 

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