Russia: St. Petersburg For the Curious


Leningrad. The name of the city of St. Petersburg from 1924 until 1991. The city also was named Petrograd 1914-1924.

Peter the Great. Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov, Tsar of Russia from 1682 to 1725.

Tsar. The title of the ruler of Russia from 1547 to 1917.

Piotr. The name “Peter” in Russian. Peter the Great is popularly known as “Piotr”.

KGB. Initials for the Committee for State Security (Komityet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti), the 1954-1991 name of the Soviet Union’s secret police and intelligence agency.

Vladimir Putin. President of Russia,1999-2008, and Prime Minister beginning in 2008.

Bliny. The plural of “blin” (Yiddish “blintz,” French “crepe”), a small pancake that may be stuffed with anything from chocolate to chicken to caviar.

Gorbachev. Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev was a Russian leader until 1991 and a 1990 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Glasnost. The period of candidness in discussion of Soviet current and past political and social problems introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev beginning in 1985.

Bolshevik Revolution. The 1917 October Revolution, or Russian Revolution, during in which the Bolshevik faction of Russian Marxists overthrew the Russian Provisional Government.

Bloody Sunday. The January 22, 1905, massacre of more than 100 workers who went to the Winter Palace to petition Tsar Nicholas II to improve working conditions.

Romanov. The family name of the imperial dynasty that ruled Russia for more than 300 years until the 1917 revolution.

Nicholas II. Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov, the last tsar of Russia, executed in 1918.

Catherine the Great. Ekaterina Alexeevna was Empress of Russia, 1762-1796.

Amber. A fossil of tree resin, mostly found in the Baltic Sea, and much of which is appreciated as jewelry and sold widely in St. Peterburg.

Baltic region. The Baltic Sea countries all share access to the Baltic Sea: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden.

The Wanderers. A group of 19the century Russian realist artists

Ploshchad Pobedy. Russian for “Victory Square” and the location of St. Petersburg’s “Monument to the Heroic Defenders of Leningrad.”

Red Army. The ‘Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army’’ was the armed force first organized by the Bolsheviks during the Russian Civil War in 1918. In 1922, it became the army of the Soviet Union.

Dostoevsky. Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881).

Gogol. Russian writer Nikolay Gogol (1809-1852).

Vladimir Nabokov. Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977).

Alexander Pushkin. Leading Russian author Aleksandr Sergeyevich (1799-1837).

Vladimir Lenin. (Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov). One of the leading political figures and revolutionary thinkers of the 20th century, Lenin masterminded the Bolshevik takeover of power in Russia.

Borsht. A Russian or Polish soup usually containing beet juice. Also “borscht” or “borshch.”

Le Blond. (Jean-Baptiste Alexandre Le Blond). French architect and garden designer, mastermind of Peterhof, and most important 18th century architect of St. Petersburg.

Rudolf Nureyev. (Rudolh Khametovich Nureyev). 20th century Russian ballet dancer.

Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Mikhail Nikolaevitch Baryshnikov). Russian ballet dancer.

Do svidaniya. Russian for “Good-bye” or “Until we meet again.”