Vatnik (slang)

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

Vatnik or vatnyk (Ukrainian: ватник, lit. 'vatnik, a type of warm cotton wool-padded jacket'; Russian: ватник; Belarusian: ватнік; Latvian: vatņiks) both a derivative of and often shortened to vata (Ukrainian: вата, lit. 'cotton wool'; Russian: вата; Latvian: vate, usually used in plural) is an ethnic slur[1][2] in Belarusian, Latvian,[3] Russian and Ukrainian languages denoting ethnic Russians.[1][2]

The word has also become an internet meme used in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states. Its meaning is to disparage someone as a blindly patriotic and not very smart Russian.[4][5] "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."[6]

A man in a vatnik

Internet meme[edit]

The meme was created by Russian Anton Chadskiy under the pseudonym Jedem das Seine.[7][8][9] His associated picture of an anthropomorphic square-shaped quilted jacket similar to SpongeBob was posted on VK for the first time on September 9, 2011. In 2012, the meme became widely popular on the Internet.[10] 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.[11][12][13]

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).[6] The meme became much more widespread in society after the Russian military intervention in Ukraine started in 2014.[10]

In early 2015, Anton Chadskiy reported that he was forced to leave Russia in November 2014 because he feared political persecution by the government.[14] He was living in Kiev and planning to move to Berlin at the time.[13]

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.[15][16][17][18][19]
  • 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.[20]
  • "We will not let the Russian vata into our homes"[21] – the name of the "Boycott Russian Films" campaign;[22]
  • "Inter is a "vata" channel of Firtash the "kremlyad"[23]"[24] – a critical comment in social networks;[25]
  • "The proud name "vatnik"[26] – 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).[27]
  • 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.[28]
  • 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.[29][30]

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,[31] and sometimes in positive manner – to express speaker's support for some aspects of Russian culture/values/politics.[27]

A similar term "vyshyvatnik"/"vyshyvatnyk" (blend of vyshyvanka, a national Ukrainian wearing, and "vatnik") appeared in Russian and Ukrainian languages to describe individuals with pro-Ukrainian jingoist views. As with "vatnik", the word can be used both by opponents of Ukrainians, and by Ukrainians themselves (e.g. to describe jingoism, laziness or other negative traits of some Ukrainians).[32][33]

The word "rusulman" is a similar neologism in the Armenian language. It denotes a person who has pro-Russian imperialist views regardless of his or her own nationality.[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b 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. ^ Shaun Walker (2 June 2016). "Ukraine bans Russian journalists accused of 'stirring hatred'". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  5. ^ Kolya Camouflage. ""Tesak's daughter" moved to Ukraine to organize "safari" hunting on gay people". Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b Kovpak, Jim (June 9, 2015). "Vatnost – Why the West can't Understand Russia". Read Russia. Retrieved 28 August 2017.
  7. ^ Яких росіян називають словом «ватник» (in Ukrainian). 10.04.2014
  8. ^ Антон Чадский (in Russian). Vatnik
  9. ^ Антон Чадский. Vkontakte
  10. ^ a b 10 слів і фраз, що увійшли до вжитку вінничан 2014-го року (in Ukrainian). 10.01.2015
  12. ^ Создатель «Ватника» Антон Чадский: Как я стал русофобом (in Russian). Snob. 14.10.2014
  13. ^ a b АНТОН ЧАДСКИЙ BARHOT ИНТЕРВЬЮ, video; (in Russian). Road Control. 18.01.2015
  14. ^ У Києві порівнювали «ватників» і «бандериків» (in Ukrainian). Channel "24". 31.03.2015
  15. ^ Ватнік обращонний: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 1, Podrobnosti. 03.10.2014
  16. ^ Ватніца мутантка: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 2, Podrobnosti. 10.10.2014
  17. ^ Ватнік понаєхавший: мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 3, Podrobnosti. 17.10.2014
  18. ^ Велікій ватний мир или Философия ватников. Мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 4, Podrobnosti. 24.10.2014
  19. ^ Рік ватніка: Мультфильм Ирены Карпы (in Ukrainian), serie 11, Podrobnosti. 26.12.2014
  20. ^ ОРЕСТ ЛЮТИЙ — «ВАТНИКИ» (in Ukrainian), (in Russian). OrestLutiy. 05.12.2014
  21. ^ Original text in Ukrainian: «Не пустимо в хату російську вату»
  22. ^ «Не пустимо в хату російську вату» — театралізована акція під Держкіно (in Ukrainian). Radio Liberty. 04.09.2014
  23. ^ a portmanteau literally meaning "Kremlin whore"
  24. ^ Original text in Russian: «Интер — ватный канал кремляди Фирташа»
  25. ^ У соцмережах повстали проти «Інтера» за концерт зірок, які підтримали агресію РФ (in Ukrainian). ТСН. 1+1. 01.01.2015
  26. ^ Original text in Russian: Гордое имя – «ватник»
  27. ^ a b Алтайський університет оголосив конкурс творів: "Горде ім'я — «ватник» (in Ukrainian). Ukrayinska Pravda. 14.01.2015
  28. ^ Кровавый торт ватной действительности (in Russian). rufabula. 12.01.2015
  29. ^ ВАТА-TV (in Russian). Pervyi volont'orskiy
  30. ^ ВАТА TV. Official channel in YouTube
  31. ^ Обамка, Путлер и укроп. Вышиватник против ватника – "Obamka, Putler and ukrop. Vyshyvatnik against vatnik" (Russian article, comparing opinions of Russian and Ukrainian jingoists)
  32. ^ Вишиватник, або всепропальщик звичайний (in Ukrainian) – "Vyshyvatnyk, or everything-is-lost-er vulgaris", Ukrainian article
  33. ^ Кто такие «вышиватники», и что они из себя представляют? (in Russian) – "Who are "vyshivatniki" and what are they like?", Ukrainian article
  34. ^ The «Rusulman» named article about the term at the Granish (in Armenian)

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