Vatnik (slang)

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Activists using the image of "Vatnik" in the action of "Boycott Russian Films" campaign

Vatnik or vatnyk Russian: ватник is a political slur[1][2] in Belarusian, Latvian[3], Lithuanian, Russian and Ukrainian languages based on an internet meme that was introduced in 2011 by Anton Chadskiy, which denotes someone who slavishly follows Kremlin propaganda and espouses jingoism.[4]

The use of the word originates in the internet meme, first spread by Chadskiy on VKontakte, and used in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states. Its meaning refers to the original cartoon, which depicts a character made from the material of a padded cotton wool jacket, and bearing a black eye, and is used to disparage someone as a blindly patriotic and unintelligent jingoist, who pushes the conventional views presented in Russian government media, as well as those views expressed by Russian web brigades.[5][6] "Put simply, the vatnik is representative of a certain archetypical Russian who slavishly supports the regime out of fear, hatred of others, or most often a combination of both."[7] The name "Vatnik" derives from the cotton wool jacket that Chadskiy's cartoon character in the meme is made from.

Internet meme[edit]

The meme was created by the Russian artist Anton Chadskiy under the pseudonym Jedem das Seine.[8][9][10] His associated picture of an anthropomorphic square-shaped quilted jacket similar to the title character of SpongeBob SquarePants was posted on VK for the first time on September 9, 2011. In 2012, the meme became widely popular on the Internet.[11] Chadskiy created the group for the character on VK called RASHKA - THE SQUARE VATNIK. Rashka is a derogatory nickname for Russia, derived from the English pronunciation of the country's name with the Russian -k- diminutive suffix attached.[12][13][14]

The name of the meme itself "Vatnik", refers to "a type of warm cotton wool-padded jacket", known as a "vatnik", which was the previous meaning of the word.

Chadskiy's original drawing has been reproduced and modified many times. Features that are consistently part of the meme include gray color, a red nose (from drinking vodka), and one black eye (presumably from a fistfight with another vatnik).[7] The meme became much more widespread in society after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine started in 2014.[11]

In early 2015, Anton Chadskiy reported that he was forced to leave Russia in November 2014 because he feared political persecution by the government.[15] He was living in Kiev and planning to move to Berlin at the time.[14]

Examples of use[edit]

  • Autumn 2014 – "Podrobnosti" ("Inter" TV channel) in association with Irena Karpa started production of animated series, several episodes were devoted to the "vatnik" phenomenon.[16][17][18][19][20]
  • Orest Liutyi wrote a song about "vatniks", as a remake of the Russian famous song "Landyshy" (Russian: Ландыши). In this song, he named Vladimir Putin as a khuylo.[21]
  • "We will not let the Russian vata into our homes"[22] – the name of the Ukrainian "Boycott Russian Films" campaign;[23]
  • "Inter is a "vata" channel of Firtash the "kremlyad"[24]"[25] – a critical comment in social networks;[26]
  • "The proud name "vatnik"[27] – one of the topics at essays and scientific works competition in the Altai State Pedagogical University, that was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union victory in the German-Soviet War (Second World War).[28]
  • During New Year 2015 celebration the author of the meme Anton Chadskiy held a humorous action – "Vatnik of the year" award. This action angered Russian Internet.[29]
  • During the end of 2014 the comedy television show "VATA TV" (original: ВАТА TV) is shown in Ukraine. It is devoted to the "vata" phenomenon. It is hosted by the popular 5 Kanal host Viktor Lytovchenko. He mainly speaks Surzhyk during programs.[30][31]
  • On the App Store has mobile pixel art game "Vatnik" for iPhone.[32] There have Vatnik and also all others Russian oppositions and officials, including yellow duck of Russian Prime Minister by the movie He is Not Dimon to You.

Alternative usages[edit]

Although the words "vatnik" and "vata" are widely used by Ukrainians and people sympathizing with them to offend Russians, they are sometimes used by Russians themselves. The word "vatnik" can be used by Russians both in negative manner, to describe those of Russians who show forms of patriotism that are too jingoistic or foolish.[33]

Attempt to create a pejorative version for Ukrainians[edit]

According to Ukrainian journalist Artem Bebyk, in early November 2014 Russian intelligence created a pejorative term "vyshyvatnik" (blending the words vyshyvanka and vatnik) to discredit Ukrainians and Ukrainian national dress vyshyvanka. Bebyk speculates that Russian intelligence tried spreading the term using Russian image board (Russian version of to jump-start its usage (Bebyk indicate that the earliest known records of this term usage was on[34][35] Of similar opinion is also a Columbia University professor and linguist Yuri Schevhuk [uk], who noted in an interview in 2017 that he considers the term "vyshyvatnik" to be of Kremlin origins.[36]

Other Ukrainian journalists, who unwittingly used this pejorative term in 2014-2015, tried to give it a different meaning and use it as a synonym to "vsepropalshchyk" (a person who gives up easily).[37]

The term did not get any significant traction in Ukraine in 2014-2015 and its usage essentially stopped by early 2015.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fialkova, Larisa; Yelenevskaia, Maria (2016-04-14). "The Crisis in Ukraine and the Split of Identity in the Russian-speaking World". Folklorica. 19. doi:10.17161/folklorica.v19i1.5721. ISSN 1920-0242.
  2. ^ Devlin, Anne Marie (2016-11-25). "Lard-eaters, gay-ropeans, sheeple and prepositions: lexical and syntactic devices employed to position the other in Russian online political forums". Russian Journal of Communication. 9 (1): 53–70. doi:10.1080/19409419.2016.1219642. ISSN 1940-9419.
  3. ^ Vija Beinerte (17 October 2014). "Vai ir iespējams sarunāties ar "vatņiku"?". Latvijas Avīze (in Latvian). Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  4. ^ Vatnost – Why the West can’t Understand Russia By Jim Kovpak June 09, 18:22
  5. ^ Shaun Walker (2 June 2016). "Ukraine bans Russian journalists accused of 'stirring hatred'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  6. ^ Kolya Camouflage. ""Tesak's daughter" moved to Ukraine to organize "safari" hunting on gay people". Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  7. ^ a b Kovpak, Jim (June 9, 2015). "Vatnost – Why the West can't Understand Russia". Read Russia. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  8. ^ Яких росіян називають словом «ватник» (in Ukrainian). 10.04.2014
  9. ^ Антон Чадский (in Russian). Vatnik
  10. ^ Антон Чадский. Vkontakte
  11. ^ a b 10 слів і фраз, що увійшли до вжитку вінничан 2014-го року (in Ukrainian). 10.01.2015
  13. ^ Создатель «Ватника» Антон Чадский: Как я стал русофобом (in Russian). Snob. 14.10.2014
  14. ^ a b АНТОН ЧАДСКИЙ BARHOT ИНТЕРВЬЮ, video; (in Russian). Road Control. 18.01.2015
  15. ^ У Києві порівнювали «ватників» і «бандериків» (in Ukrainian). Channel "24". 31.03.2015
  16. ^ Ватнік обращонний: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 1, Podrobnosti. 03.10.2014
  17. ^ Ватніца мутантка: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 2, Podrobnosti. 10.10.2014
  18. ^ Ватнік понаєхавший: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 3, Podrobnosti. 17.10.2014
  19. ^ Велікій ватний мир или Философия ватников. Мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 4, Podrobnosti. 24.10.2014
  20. ^ Рік ватніка: Мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 11, Podrobnosti. 26.12.2014
  21. ^ ОРЕСТ ЛЮТИЙ — «ВАТНИКИ» (in Ukrainian and Russian). OrestLutiy. 05.12.2014
  22. ^ Original text in Ukrainian: «Не пустимо в хату російську вату»
  23. ^ «Не пустимо в хату російську вату» — театралізована акція під Держкіно (in Ukrainian). Radio Liberty. 04.09.2014
  24. ^ a portmanteau literally meaning "Kremlin whore"
  25. ^ Original text in Russian: «Интер — ватный канал кремляди Фирташа»
  26. ^ У соцмережах повстали проти «Інтера» за концерт зірок, які підтримали агресію РФ (in Ukrainian). ТСН. 1+1. 01.01.2015
  27. ^ Original text in Russian: Гордое имя – «ватник»
  28. ^ Алтайський університет оголосив конкурс творів: "Горде ім'я — «ватник» (in Ukrainian). Ukrayinska Pravda. 14.01.2015
  29. ^ Кровавый торт ватной действительности (in Russian). rufabula. 12.01.2015
  30. ^ ВАТА-TV (in Russian). Pervyi volont'orskiy
  31. ^ ВАТА TV. Official channel in YouTube
  32. ^ "Vatnik". App Store. Retrieved 2019-11-15.
  33. ^ Обамка, Путлер и укроп. Вышиватник против ватника – "Obamka, Putler and ukrop. Vyshyvatnik against vatnik" (Russian article, comparing opinions of Russian and Ukrainian jingoists)
  34. ^ Артем Бебик. "Вьішиватник" - інфодиверсія Москви., 4 червня 2019 (in Ukrainian)
  35. ^ Артем Бебик. "Вьішиватник" - інфодиверсія Москви (продовження - факти)., 5 червня 2019 (in Ukrainian)
  36. ^ Мовознавець Юрій Шевчук розповів, чим для нього є «вишиватництво»., 2017/08/25 (in Ukrainian)
  37. ^ Вишиватник, або всепропальщик звичайний (in Ukrainian) – "Vyshyvatnyk, or everything-is-lost-er vulgaris", Ukrainian article
  38. ^ The «Rusulman» named article about the term at the Granish (in Armenian)

External links[edit]