Chapter 7

Anecdotes about Chukchas, Armenians, Ukrainians etc



In this chapter a few anecdotes are gathered which show that besides containing anti-Semitic motifs, Russian oral jokes often derided other ethnic groups as well.

Anti-Armenian and anti-Ukrainian jokes may be not as numerous as the anti-Semitic are, but nevertheless are telltale in revealing certain corners in the Russian national psyche.

Anecdotes about Chukchas, which constitute the bulk of this chapter, are a relatively recent phenomenon. This brand of anecdotes started appearing in the late seventies. It is hard to explain why Chukchas, but not, for example Yakuts, or Buryats, or any other small tribe or ethnic group, have been made a target of so many jokes.

Chukchas are members of a small ethnic group that inhabits Chukotka, a vast but scarcely populated area in the Far East end of Siberia, and is ethnically related to the native population of Alaska (which is separated from Chukotka only by a relatively narrow Bering's straits). Maybe just the sound of their name, Chukchas, which is a little funny for a Russian ear, was the reason for them to be singled out as a butt of jokes. Or, maybe the fact that, prior to Stalin's death in 1953, their remote land used to hold the largest in the world system of prison camps in the basin of the Kolyma river, where, at a very cautious count, hundreds of thousands of innocent people had been systematically annihilated by the totalitarian state. When those who survived returned from the Kolyma, they brought with them an experience of encounters with the Chukchas. Why then it took over twenty years before the anecdotes about the Chukchas appeared?

Anyway, while in some of these anecdotes a Chukcha seems to appear just by accident, either as a device to deliver a general anti-Soviet message, or for the sake of a mere fun, in many others the Chukchas are depicted as dumb, sly, illiterate, and malicious. Obviously, rather than being a portrayal of the real Chukchas, who are accomplished hunters, pathfinders, and deer riders, these jokes actually refer to an imaginary breed of people, having little in common with the real Chukchas except for the name.


7.1 After a Soviet spacecraft made the first photograph of the moon's side that is always oriented away from the earth, some people wondered why such an effort was made to see the "moon's back." Then answer spread via rumors was: At the request of the Armenian men."

7.2 A Chukcha was hunting in tundra when a helicopter fell to the ground and exploded. The pilot was killed, but a passenger was still alive when Chukcha approached the wreckage. The wounded man begged, "Help me. I am the Party secretary." Chukcha took his rifle and shot the man. In a minute another helicopter landed, men rushed to the wreckage, and when they saw the dead bodies, they asked, "What have you done? Why did you kill this man?"

The Chukcha answered, "Chukcha knows though, we've only one Party secretary, in Moscow."

7.3 A military truck was stuck in mud in the middle of tundra. A Chukcha who was riding in a deer-driven sled, stopped to look how a bunch of soldiers tried unsuccessfully to pull the truck out of the mud. After a while, the Chukcha said to the officer in charge, "Commander, I know though what you need."

"So tell us," the officer said, hoping that the local man might know some secret as to how to cope with tundra.

"Give Chukcha hundred rubles, Chukcha will tell."

The officer shook his head, and the soldiers resumed their futile effort. Finally, the officer said, "So, Chukcha, here's your hundred rubles."

The Chukcha took the money, put them into his belt and said, "You need a tractor." And he went his way.

7.4 A Chukcha said, "Anyway, Lenin though a Chukcha was."

"How do you know?"

"He was though mighty smart."

7.5 A Chukcha was elected deputy to the Supreme Soviet. When he came back to Chukotka from Moscow, people asked him, "How was the session?"

"Good, though."

"Did you criticize the government?"

"Yes, though."

"And they didn't do anything to you?"

"No, though. Chukcha criticized the Czarist government."


"Why they sold Alaska to America but not Chukotka?"

7.6 A Chukcha came to the Bering's straits and shouted toward Alaska, "Hey, Americans. You have no money though."

"Why?" the Americans answered. "We've plenty of money."

"Then tell Chukcha why did you buy only Alaska? Not enough money to buy Chukotka also?"

7.7 A foreign correspondent came to Chukotka and interviewed a Chukcha.

"What did the Soviet state give to the Chukcha people?"

"Oh, very much though. Before the revolution, a Chukcha only knew two feelings, a feeling of hunger and a feeling of cold. But now Chukcha has three feelings, though. A feeling of hunger, a feeling of cold, and a feeling of a deep moral satisfaction."

7.8 The Chukchas have opened a research institute. They asked to send several flatcars loaded with bricks. Moscow sent the bricks. After a while, the Chukchas again requested bricks, then again, and again. Finally, Moscow requested a report as to how many buildings had the Chukchas built using the bricks dispatched. The Chukchas responded that the bricks were used not for building but for research. Moscow sent a commission of inquiry. The commission came to Chukotka and saw several Chukchas standing on the sea shore and hurling brick after brick into water.

"What are you doing" the commission asked.

"Don't you see? The bricks are rectangular, then why the circles on water are circular?"

7.9 A Chukcha boarded a train and asked the train attendant to wake him before the stop at Irkutsk. When Chukcha fell asleep, one more passenger boarded the train. This man was just released from jail. He saw Chukcha's clothes hanging. He took Chukcha's things, hung instead his old rags, and left the train at the first station. When the attendant woke Chukcha, he donned the clothes, and walked out. He looked at himself and thought, "Hey, the attendant is stupid though. Woke a wrong man."

7.10 An Ukrainian died and was sent to hell. He walked through an isle accompanied by a demon on duty and saw bowls with boiling oil. Above one of the bowls there was a sign which read "Jews." Next to that bowl three demons held watch. Above the other bowl, there was a sign which read, "Ukrainians." There were no guards at that bowl.

"Why do you guard the Jews?"

The demon answered, "Because if one of them manages to clamber out, he at once lends a hand to others."

"But why no guards at the Ukrainians?"

"No need. If one of them manages to scramble up, the others at once pull him back down."