Embarrassing Chapters in Russian History

Guess these people, places, and things in Russian history that they would probably rather forget.
Don't freak out, but for the purposes of this quiz, we consider Russia and the Soviet Union to be the same.
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: September 10, 2018
First submittedMay 6, 2018
Times taken7,862
Rating3.75
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Answer
This leader is found drunk, in his underwear, trying to hail a cab, and
wanting pizza during a 1995 visit to Washington D.C.
Boris Yeltsin
Russia cynically makes a non-aggression pact with this country in 1939
Germany
Russia invades this Nordic country in 1939 and is roundly repulsed
despite huge numerical superiority
Finland
Russia is forced to burn Moscow after it is captured by this French conqueror
Napoleon
American Bobby Fischer defeats Boris Spassky at the world championships of this game
Chess
Unlike the United States, the Russians are unable to send a person here. They are forced
to stop trying after several launch failures
The Moon
The Soviet Union collapses after losing this "war"
Cold War
The 2014 Winter Olympics, held in this city, suffer from cost overruns
and shoddy construction
Sochi
Russia invades this country in 1979 but is forced to withdraw a decade later
with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers dead
Afghanistan
This Russian ballet dancer emigrates to Canada in 1974
Mikhail Baryshnikov
In an event called the Holodomor, Soviet leaders inflict a terrible famine
on this country, killing millions
Ukraine
In a staged publicity stunt, this leader "saves" a camera crew by shooting a
Siberian tiger with a tranquilizer dart
Vladimir Putin
Russia loses nearly its entire Pacific fleet in a disastrous war with this country in 1904-05
Japan
Russia is barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics because of this
State-Sponsored
Doping
Russia sells this territory to the United States for less than $5 per square kilometer
Alaska
In the early 20th century, tens of thousands of people die in "pogroms"
targeting this group of people
Jews
Poor design and disregard for safety cause this 1986 nuclear disaster
Chernobyl
+9
Level 65
May 6, 2018
Ah, the good ol' days. I miss Yeltsin.
+1
Level 46
Apr 11, 2020
Rip.
+3
Level 82
May 7, 2018
Tries to invade, not invaded. It wasn't enough of a success to say they invaded as they were stopped on the border or very close to it. And we invaded right back, although in the end we lost some territory.
+1
Level 87
May 7, 2018
sillie is so right. Anyway great quiz.
+5
Level ∞
May 7, 2018
Sure they invaded. I think something like this came up on another quiz, and it might be related to English as a second language. "Invade" means they entered Finnish territory with intent to take it. It does not mean they were successful in taking the territory.
+2
Level 64
Jan 20, 2019
But they were succesful. The USSR got Karelia as their buffer for Leningrad(nowadays St. Petersburg) Rybachi peninsula and Salla, more than they wanted prior to the war. As a result hundreds of thousand of Finns migrated out of Karelia into Finland. Granted; the Soviet casualties were horrendous. There's a popular saying that "The Soviets won just about enough ground to bury their dead."
+1
Level 58
Mar 14, 2020
The Soviets took a beating but the tide of the war had turned in their favor by the time of the peace treaty. Otherwise Finland would not have lost any territory.
+3
Level 77
Jun 18, 2018
invade =/= occupy
+15
Level 65
May 7, 2018
I think, formulations of at least some questions are strongly biased. Some examples: What is embarrassing for a country, if its chess player is defeated by a better foreign player? I remember this time and, although the propaganda made efforts to sell the match as a fight of the systems, everybody acknowledged Bobby as a brilliant player. Hence, it could be embarrassed for the Communist state, but it was not embarrassing for people. If USSR was cynical in entering a treaty with Nazi, are you ready to go so far, to assess the appeasement politics of UK and France cynical as well? Were US and European companies cynical while supplying Nazi with strategic goods and their governments while permitting these exports? Taking into account that the final outcome of Napoleon invasion was his ultimate defeat – is it honest to point out to the interim result of the war implicating, the war was disastrous embarrassment for Russians? All the more, if considering that Napoleon had to lea
+9
Level 45
Oct 5, 2018
This quiz was obviously put together by an American; "Unlike the United States, the Russians are unable to send a person [to the moon]" is such a salty thing to write
+5
Level 65
Oct 5, 2018
Are you kidding? The Space Race was a well-publicized touchstone of the Cold War. The US and USSR were both frantically trying to be the first to the moon, as a symbol of each country's superiority. The Soviets got the first satellite into space; they sent the first man into the space; and then they fell apart when they were trying to reach the big prize, and the US passed them and got to plant its flag on the moon. That is not biased American jingoism. That is what happened. And the Soviets were very embarrassed by it. Not because they didn't get to the moon, but because the Americans beat them there.
+7
Level 73
Oct 5, 2018
To be fair, Bobby Fischer could be placed on the "Embarrassing Chapters in US History" quiz, too.
+1
Level 65
Oct 5, 2018
Hahaha. Very true.
+1
Level 80
Sep 29, 2019
I'm British, and find Chamberlain's appeasement shameful. But this quiz isn't about the UK - I believe you'll find that one elsewhere.
+2
Level ∞
Feb 9, 2020
This quiz is embarrassing chapters in Russian history. It's not going to be flattering. There are versions of this quiz for the UK, France, China, and of course the United States as well.
+1
Level ∞
Apr 16, 2020
And now Germany too! (Italy coming soon).
+2
Level 66
May 7, 2018
Spent most of this time trying to think of another word for 'drugs'. Tried drugs, drug violation, etc - took ages before I thought of doping.
+1
Level 81
May 7, 2018
If you had watched NBC's coverage of the games, you would have heard the phrase "state-sponsored doping program" about a million times.
+5
Level 75
May 7, 2018
Don't have access to NBC and suspect I wouldn't watch it if I did.
+2
Level 59
May 7, 2018
I don't think Russia had much of a "Pacific fleet" in 1904-5. As far as I'm aware most of the ships came from Europe. In fact part of the problem was that they had too little support infrastructure to operate efficiently in East Asia.
+1
Level 74
Aug 17, 2018
They sent it from Europe indeed. The drunken captains ordered to shoot British fishing boats on the way because they thought they were already there, for one.
+5
Level 83
May 7, 2018
Technically, Ukraine was not a "country" at the time of the famine. It was a Soviet republic.
+2
Level 70
May 7, 2018
No, although I get the intent of the question. That same intent doesn't work, however, on the Chernobyl question, given that Chernobyl is (today) in Ukraine and near the Belarus border (i.e. nowhere near Russia).
+1
Level 71
Sep 30, 2018
Maybe the quiz should be more accurately called "Embarrassing Chapters in Russian/Soviet History".
+1
Level 37
Oct 5, 2018
In 1986 when Chernobyl happened, Ukraine was part of Russia. Therefore, it is an embarrassing chapter in RUSSIAN history.
+2
Level 73
Oct 6, 2018
divantilya - in 1986, Ukraine and Russia were both part of the Soviet Union.
+1
Level 73
May 22, 2020
camus - the Soviet Union was universally recognized by Russia, international powers, and Ukraine itself as the successor of the Russian Empire, which included Ukraine. The seats of power of the USSR were in Russia and dominated by Russians (ethnically or culturally). It is ridiculous to suggest that Chernobyl was anyone else's fault, the only reason it wouldn't be is if the Ukrainian ASSR government independently developed Chernobyl all by themselves, which they didn't.
+1
Level 73
Jul 17, 2020
Russia dominating the Soviet Union doesn't make all of its parts Russian. I don't know about the ethnicities of the people responsible for Chernobyl but that's beside the point.
+2
Level 37
Sep 29, 2018
Not all countries are sovereign nations.
+3
Level 80
May 7, 2018
Moscow wasn't the capital of Russia in Napoleon's time.
+1
Level ∞
May 7, 2018
Fixed
+6
Level 69
May 7, 2018
Burning Moscow was done deliberately to deny resources to the invaders. It was followed by the disastrous retreat from Russia and the abdication of a certain Corsican gentleman. It led directly to Russian victory so can hardly be called an embarrasement.
+3
Level 70
May 7, 2018
Tolstoy was proud of the tactic, for what it's worth.
+6
Level 65
May 7, 2018
It was an effective tactic, but it was embarrassingly desperate.
+1
Level 37
Sep 29, 2018
When you give up your biggest city to the enemy, this is because you lost all hope to successfully defend it, not because you wanted to in the first place.
+2
Level 60
May 7, 2018
could you accept Czernobyl too ?
+1
Level 51
May 7, 2018
I kept trying things like Borishnikov. Didn't get close enough.
+1
Level 64
May 9, 2018
Chernobyl had nothing of bad design. It was the state of the art of the 80's and better than many others. and a french design I think. However the safety procedures were embarrasingly set aside that's for sure, and more embarrasing cover-up attempts and late reaction to the blunder were the worst part of it.
+4
Level ∞
May 10, 2018
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl_disaster

Reading the article it sounds like the design had major problems. In my opinion, a nuclear reactor should be idiot proof.

+1
Level 77
Jun 18, 2018
There certainly was bad design involved, a similar event simply cannot happen in many other types of reactors that just stop when temperature is too high.
+1
Level 80
Sep 27, 2018
I would agree that the Soviet response to the disaster was far more embarrassing than the disaster itself. At least from my understanding from having visited the place. If I don't know what I'm talking about I blame my Ukrainian tour guide.
+1
Level 64
May 15, 2018
I wouldn't have wanted to be one of those guards looking out for Yeltsin that day. Also, how is the defection of Baryshnikov an embarassing chapter of history?
+3
Level 80
May 30, 2018
It says that the country was such a terrible place to live that people were trying to flee. Baryshnikov was far from the only one who made the attempt, but he's one of the more famous one and therefore emblematic of this phenomenon. You never saw large numbers of Americans trying to flee to Cuba or the Soviet Union; just like nobody in West Germany was attempting to flee to East Germany, and nobody in South Korea has ever tried to escape to North Korea. Pretty fair inclusion, IMO.
+1
Level 68
May 16, 2018
Got them all apart from the ballet dancer. My Knowledge of ballet dancers is pretty limited, and it doesn't extend to him.
+1
Level 71
Sep 16, 2018
Baryshnikov is not just a ballet dancer. He also became an actor, a talented one at that. He and Gregory Hines did a fantastic movie together in 1985 called White Nights (also stars Helen Mirren). If you never saw that, I highly recommend it. I haven't seen it since 1985 and it still stands out in my mind as a great movie with some phenomenal dancing by both Hines and Baryschnikov.
+1
Level 67
Oct 5, 2018
And, a recurring role in Sex In The City.
+2
Level 67
Oct 5, 2018
My knowledge of ballet dancers, especially male ballet dancers, is pretty much limited ENTIRELY to Baryshnikov.
+1
Level 65
Oct 5, 2018
Me too. And I only know it from the Simpsons. "I think you move like a young Baryshnikov!" Russian name? Dancer? That's got to be the guy.
+1
Level 52
Oct 7, 2018
I was thinking Rudolf Nureyev, but he asked for asylum in Paris.
+1
Level 80
May 30, 2018
I see you accepted my critique of the previous clue suggesting the Soviets had lost the Space Race; I'm still not sure I agree with the wording of the present clue about failing to get to the moon- it was more like they just decided it wasn't worth it once the Americans already got there- but, much better than the previous clue/answer. Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin, Laika, and I all appreciate the change. ;-)
+2
Level 67
Oct 5, 2018
Honestly, I don't think Laika was a big fan of how things turned out.
+1
Level 80
Oct 5, 2018
Probably not but we can at least remember and honor her sacrifice.
+3
Level 45
Sep 7, 2018
Kept trying Nureyev for the ballet dancer at first. Good quiz, would be fun to see a United States version of this too... Vanguard satellite launch, anyone? ;)
+1
Level 67
Oct 5, 2018
+1
Level 52
Oct 5, 2018
Maybe add something about the gay purge and extermination in Chechnya?
+2
Level 78
Oct 5, 2018
Only one I missed was Sochi. I tried Soji, Sojie, Shojie, Shoji...I must have confused it with the Japanese fiddler in Branson.
+1
Level 62
Oct 5, 2018
I think it's blasphemous to make a quiz about Russian embarrassment without including the "Miracle on Ice."
+1
Level 78
Feb 7, 2020
Forgot about this. A team of professionals who regularly played together for a country that had won the previous 4 Olympic gold medals (and 5 of the last 6) losing to a bunch of college players whom they had soundly trounced, 10-3, just days before. The head coach was so stunned, he forgot to pull the goalie, down by a goal, as the final minute wound down.

Considering the Cold War climate at the time, this one could easily have been one of the first ones on this quiz.
+1
Level 55
Oct 6, 2018
You should do an embarassing moments one for Mexico, Japan, and Turkey too.
+1
Level 48
Oct 13, 2018
I just couldn't manage to write Chernobyl correctly. It's written so differently in my language (Tsernobyl).
+1
Level 67
Nov 20, 2018
Suomi on tunnetumpi kuin kuu. Torilla tavataan.
+1
Level 72
Dec 24, 2018
Thanks to Epic Rap Battles of History for the Baryshnikov answer! “I had the balls to let Baryshnikov dance, playa!” - M. Gorbachev
+1
Level 37
Feb 18, 2019
Camus: You are correct. My faux pas; I did not forget that it was the Soviet Union back then.
+1
Level 67
Nov 15, 2019
How about a quiz "embarrassing times in US History"?
+1
Level ∞
Nov 15, 2019
https://www.jetpunk.com/user-quizzes/30947/embarrassing-chapters-in-us-history