New Russians

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from New Russian)
Jump to: navigation, search

New Russians (Novye Russkie, Russian: новые русские) is a term for the newly rich business class in post-Soviet Russia. It is perceived as a stereotypical caricature. According to the stereotype, New Russians achieved rapid wealth by using criminal methods during Russia's chaotic transition to a market economy.

Having a modest education and social background, New Russians are perceived as arrogant nouveau riche and gaudy, conspicuous consumers with poor taste. Money and status symbols are prominently displayed by the New Russian, in particular jewelry and luxury cars. In the early 1990s, prominent attributes of the New Russian stereotype also included mobile phones and crimson jackets. A wide range of elite restaurants and nightclubs catering to the New Russian social circle have sprung up in Moscow.


The expression Новый Русский (lit. "New Russian") arose in the Russian-speaking sphere in the demonstrated English-language form of "New Russian", and was then calcified into the Russian-language form.[1] Another sparse theory suggests the term appeared in foreign press, and then made its way into Russia. Supporters of this theory consider that the author of the expression was the American journalist Hedrick Smith who published two books about Russia: "The Russians" (1976) and "The New Russians" (1990).[2]

There's also a theory that it's more of a pun, playing on the French words "nouveau riche" (i.e. new rich),[2][3] having an absolutely similar meaning as the term "New Russian".

In the documentary film "With a hard-sign on the end" (С твёрдом знаком на конце, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the creation of the newspaper Коммерсантъ, and shown on Channel One on 30 November 2009), author Leonid Parfenov demonstrates a copy of Kommersant from 1992 where editorial statistics were addressed as "New Russian". Parfenov confirms that the newspaper first implemented this word into daily life, and at first didn't have any negative or ironic connotation, merely annotating the representatives of nascent Russian businesses.[4]


Characteristic attributes of 1990s New Russians are considered:

  • Red or crimson jacket – distinguishing style of clothes for "cool/funky" (крутой) people, status symbol (likewise a symbol of tastelessness), black jeans of a popular brand, steel-toed black boots. In the words of the gameshow player Andrei Kozlov from "What? Where? When?", New Russians began wearing crimson jackets namely after their appearance on this gameshow.[5] Although, there is another version of appearance of crimson jackets – in 1993 Sergey Mavrodi, founder of financial pyramid MMM greeted nation with New Year – 1994. And he wore crimson jacket in this instance.[6]
  • Massive gold chains around the neck ("golda"), gold chains worn outside.
  • A weighty gold signet ring ("nut")
  • Large watches ("cauldrons") of an expensive brand, preferably solid gold and with expensive stones
  • The automobile: Mercedes-Benz 600 model with the W140 body ("six-hundredth Mers", "600th Merin", "Suitcase", "Bandit", "Boar", "the one-forty"), Jeep Grand Cherokee ("Chirik", "Cherkan", "Jeep", "Zhyp", "Cherokez", and the close-pair Широкий "Wide"), Nissan Terrano ("Tiranka"), Mitsubishi Pajero ("Podzhary"). Toyota Land Cruiser ("Cruzak", and "Kukurzer" a play on the Russian word for corn), Mercedes Geländewagen ("Gelik", "Cubic"), Chevrolet Tahoe ("Coffin"), Volvo 940, Mercedes-Benz W124, BMW 5, BMW 7 ("Bimmer, /ˈbumʲɪr/"), Audi 100, Lincoln Town Car
  • Mobile phone (труба "trumpet/pipe/tube", "mobila", сотовик "celly"), until the beginning of the 2000s, considered an item of luxury and prestige
  • A buzz cut or shaved head or back-of-the-head ("репа" "turnip")
  • The "sign of the horns hand" gesture, with or without thumb extended ("fingers", "fingering", "finger goat").
  • Use of New Russian jargon (words such as "like-a", "in nature", "cleanly", "concretely", "anyway", and so on). Thief-cant.
  • "Cabbage" – wads of cash in US dollars, or money in general ("bucks", "babki", "bablo", "green", "lave")

In modern society[edit]

"New Russians" became by conventional wisdom, the heroes of a multitude of anecdotes appearing in various films, plays, and broadcasts. The archetype itself repeatedly progressed and other spheres and walks of life (see: New Russian Bucks). Also in the year 1996, the program Gentleman-Show had "Vovan Sidorovich Scherbatyy" as a guest performed by actor Oleg Shkolnik.

Many Russian jokes revolve around New Russians.

See also[edit]