Top 10 Russian memes (PHOTOS)

Russia Beyond (Photo: State Russian Museum; Perviy channel;
Memes are incisive, bold and ephemeral. Something that was funny yesterday is damp squib today. But, some memes become immortal classics. We’ve brought together some of the greatest Russian memes that we think are timeless and will enter the textbooks (well, maybe!).

1. Preved, Medved!

The archetypal Russian meme is already 17 years old! A watercolor by American artist John Lurie, in which a bear says:"Surprise!" when it sees a naked couple was slightly adapted by someone nicknamed Lobbz on the website. He simply replaced "Surprise!" with "Preved!", which is a misspelling of the Russian word Privet (Hi) in the then-popular Padonkaffsky jargon style, which deliberately mangled familiar words. The text version of the meme - i.e. "Preved, Medved!" - has almost become more popular than the graphic one.

2. How do you like that, Elon Musk?

It's a phrase designed to make the American billionaire and inventor feel disconcerted at the sight of the ingenuity and versatility of Russian engineering. It appeared in response to the launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket with a Tesla Roadsterelectric car on board.

The phrase was first used to accompany the news that scientists in Novosibirsk had learned to smoke herrings in a collider. After that, things took off: Elon Musk started to be asked: "How do you like that?" at the slightest pretext: from a bundle of twigs being used as a car's windscreen wiper to a video showing a VAZ-2106 Lada traveling the wrong way round with its engine in the trunk. In response to the latter, Musk, who quickly got the joke, even left a comment in Russian: "haha awesome." 

3. They've decorated the office

New Year isn't New Year without a seasonal tree. Internet enthusiasts have put a festive gloss on Ilya Repin's painting 'Barge Haulers on the Volga'. In the first image, the hired artel workers are pulling a boat upstream against the current and, in thesecond, theyre doing the same with the addition of a festive tree. The impact of the scene is completely transformed!

4. It's a fiasco, bruh

In a dramatic video, a Shiba Inu dog, accompanied by its owner's warnings, tries to cross a river using a tree trunk straddling the two banks. In the end, the dog falls in and the owner exclaims: "It's a fiasco, bruh!" The video instantly went viral and the phrase became a meme. It can, in fact, be uttered with reference to any failure: from homework that hasn't been done to Napoleon's unsuccessful invasion of Russia!

5. Mouse (kreeping abowt)

A stock photo of a domestic mouse creeping around has engendered numerous variations. The main point of them is the caption, while what is happening with the rodent is not so crucial. For instance, it can just be a list of successful combos: beer and shawarma, French fries and cheese sauce, "mouse - kreeping abowt".  [The Russian catchphrase: "Mysh (krodyotsya)" includes two deliberate misspellings in the word kradyotsya meaning "creeps about".]

6. Natasha, get up!

Initially, the meme involved two cats waking up their owner to tell her it's six in the morning and they've knocked everything over. But, it gradually morphed, with the owner disappearing from the picture and the number of felines significantly growing. And they began to raise the alarm about all sorts of things: the falling price of oil, Covid restrictions and the reduction of daylight hours.

7. I'll flip the calendar

A chanson-style song by Russian pop singer Mikhail Shufutinsky, 'September 3' has spawned a vast array of memes. It all started with a photo of rapper Rick Ross, in which he bore a resemblance to Shufutinsky, with the caption: "I'll flip the calendar and it's September 3 again". And it continued with diverse variations using lyrics from the song. The main surge of memes has naturally been occurring on September 1-2: While someone is going back to school, someone else is cobbling together new images accompanied by words from this song about parting. Sometimes, the image does not even have anything to do with Mikhail Shufutinsky. The caption: "No time to explain, just flip the calendar" is sufficient to make the reference clear.

8. Here's your paycheck

The 'Suffering Middle Ages' project, in which witty captions are added to medieval engravings has given rise to quite a number of compelling memes. In one of them, a saint hands a twig to a lion with the words: "Here's your paycheck." - "But it's a twig!" proclaims a bubble beside the stupefied king of beasts. There are no two ways about it: a funny image, but a terrifying scenario!

9. Agutin presses the button

The dramatic moment in the TV Show 'Golos' (The Voice), when singer Leonid Agutin is deciding whether to select a new member for his team spread all over the public pages of VKontakte. It encapsulates any difficult choice: like, whether to blow one's whole monthly salary in a single day or to ring one's ex.

10. Do you sell fishes?

How can anything be so impossibly cute? A group of cats scrutinizing the wares at a fish market instantly captivated users and, escaping from the public page of 'Memes about cats (wot a laugh)', they went walkabout all over the web. The dialogue: "Do you sell fishes? - No, just displaying. Very nice." gave rise to a multitude of variations. For instance: "Natasha, get up! They've sold! Sold all the fishes. Heartless." (The Russian text accompanying the memes is deliberately idiosyncratic and grammatically incorrect).

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