34 votes
Accepted

Were schoolteachers really paid substantially less than $45 per month in 1990s Ukraine?

As the OP's quote says, Ukraine's economy in the 1990s was indeed "wretched": Ukraine’s economy contracted annually between 9.7 and 22.7 percent in 1991–1996. The country experienced ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
27 votes
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Why would a Ukrainian police officer speak broken Ukrainian?

In Ukraine, Ukrainian and Russian are both spoken, but neither language is universal. It’s not unreasonable that a Ukrainian police officer’s native tongue might be Russian¹ and his command of ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
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24 votes

Were schoolteachers really paid substantially less than $45 per month in 1990s Ukraine?

90s are big. Early 1990s salaries might be below survivable, so a lot of people, even in cities and towns, had allotments or dachas. In the late 90s it would start to change. In the beginning of 90s ...
Mykola's user avatar
  • 341
21 votes
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Why are Santa Barbara, Denver, and Dallas held up as examples of the glamorous high life?

Denver was the setting of the soap opera Dynasty. Santa Barbara and Dallas were the settings of soap operas named after the cities. All three of them concentrated on wealthy and glamorous families. ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
17 votes

What is the "unavoidably-raised ax of history over every person's head"?

It was a great principle of Marxism that they were the wave of the future and how History was going and their triumph was inevitable. Which meant that everyone in the Soviet Union had a duty to ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
15 votes

What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

According to the original text in Ukrainian: it was clearly incoming smuggling; the author seems to deliberately use the older Roman name of Spanish Galicia — probably, to avoid the possible ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
15 votes
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What happened on April 22, 1838?

After looking into this further based on some hints in the book's footnotes, it turns out that Taras Shevchenko was a serf. He was trained as a painter for awhile, but he wanted to continue his ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
14 votes
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What is the "unavoidably-raised ax of history over every person's head"?

Dangling axe, or dangling sword, is a maxim that refers to Damocles. It generally means something inevitable and/or looming. It was — and it is — widely popular in Ukrainian literature, politics, and ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
14 votes
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What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

Galician, not Galacian. During the 1970s and 1980s, Galician smuggling cartels specialised in cigarettes and tobacco. It was a big illegal industry in Iberia, and perhaps extending further afield in ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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13 votes
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What does it mean to take iron to a transfer station?

Here's the same quote in Ukrainian (highlight mine): Діти несуть залізо, як на приймальний пункт, а Цвичок голосно розпоряджається: коротке залізо - під стіну, довгі труби - в хату, гайки-цвики - у ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
12 votes

Were schoolteachers really paid substantially less than $45 per month in 1990s Ukraine?

Besides the short answer, which is "yes", here are some numbers related to the period. The cost of 1 US dollar in Ukrainian money (karbovanets, krb.) by year: 1992 1993 1994 1995 208 krb. ...
postscripter's user avatar
11 votes
Accepted

What is a "more bankable nationality"?

The fifth line in Soviet passports was Nationality (=ethnicity), after 1. Surname, 2. Given Name, 3. Father's Name, 4. "Date of Birth". From "The fifth line - what is it? Definition, ...
Andra's user avatar
  • 810
11 votes

Why would a Ukrainian police officer speak broken Ukrainian?

For the same reason why most Irish police officers do not speak Irish at all. In a lot of cases, current national affiliation and its official language have little to do with what is being actually ...
James Tennessee's user avatar
9 votes
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Was a pumpkin a symbol of rejection of a suitor?

Yes, in Ukraine, pumpkins were and are used as a sign of rejection. An old tradition held that a would-be suitor would visit a woman's house to propose. If the answer was yes, there was family ...
Sean Duggan's user avatar
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9 votes
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Why does "Stalking the Atomic City" use English units?

I wasn’t able to find the particular passage quoted in the question in the Ukrainian original, but I did find this illuminating sentence: Тому і був потрібев надувний човен, і рюкзак під сорок ...
D. A. Hosek's user avatar
  • 3,045
9 votes

What is "Galacian tobacco" and what is its significance?

I note there are two regions in Europe which are spelled "Galicia" in English. One is the northwest corner of Spain, the other a region in modern Poland and Ukraine. Rand al'Thor mentions ...
M. A. Golding's user avatar
7 votes
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Can you actually be arrested for public smoking in Ukraine, like this passage implies?

Anti-smoking laws in Ukraine were strengthened in 2012, ahead of a football championship hosted in Ukraine. From Reuters, 24 May 2012: Just an ashtray on the table will cost a Ukrainian restaurant or ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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6 votes
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What is swamp milk?

"Enharmonies" is divided into four parts: Fog, Sun, Wind, and Rain. As the stanza quoted is from the first part,"Fog", it seems likely that the "spun milk" is simply a ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Why did Injured tell the other players to focus on trapping the ball cleanly?

In the original what Injured says is — Значить, так, — сказав, — усім відпрацьовувати. Ясно? Here відпрацьовувати means pretty much work your ass off. Nothing about the ball. In Russian translation ...
Рябчиков-Жуй's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Why was the Gypsy so annoyed about being asked if they have tonic and gin at the bar?

Gin and tonic is a very popular drink, and its ingredients are also used in many other drinks. It is odd and unusual for a bar to be unable to provide it. Olga is probably flustered at having what ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
6 votes
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When did the Soviet government start admitting that people were killed in Afghanistan?

Disclaimer: I don't know about the graves and cemeteries. The turning point in admitting the casualties was Gorbachev and the glasnost. There is a document, dated June 19 1985, which permits ...
Рябчиков-Жуй's user avatar
6 votes
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Why did "Carbide" refer to Viktor Yanukovych as an "ex-con"?

Before being elected to office, Viktor Yanukovych served two terms in prison. This is indeed noted in his wikipedia page, in the section "Early life and early career". The first was in 1967 ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Is the drawing after "The wind converses with the grove" part of the poem?

Yes, this work appears to be by Taras Shevchenko. The Ukranian Wikipedia site helpfully has a page for List of paintings and drawings by Taras Shevchenko, which gives the title of the work as Узлісся (...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

What is an Akhmatovian nose?

The reference is, as your researches suggested, to the poet Anna Akhmatova Gorenko. She had a nose which called attention to itself. While not unique in terms of human nasal ornaments, it was a nose ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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5 votes
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What would lead the train attendants to conclude that Pasha was a teacher?

If I understand you correctly, you are referring the scene where Pasha was trying to help a woman with a child who was robbed. While people were trying to establish who the thief is, the attendant ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Did Effie receive insulin shock therapy?

Disclaimer: I haven't read the story. Timewise, in USSR (and even Russia) the insulin therapy remained in use for much longer. Russian Wiki quotes certain A.I.Nelson who kept pushing it as late as ...
Рябчиков-Жуй's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Was there a book written about jazz in the Donetsk region?

In Ukrainian it is "Історія і занепад джазу у Донецькому басейні". When googling this, you can find only two relevant texts (both in Ukrainian). I understand that it is Zhadan's own way to ...
Andra's user avatar
  • 810
4 votes

Why was the doctor's "entire monthly pay" in his pocket?

I haven't read the book and don't know the exact context, but I'll risk to answer anyway from my experience. Doctors, like most workers, were usually paid twice a month (normally 40+60%), cash in hand....
Zeus's user avatar
  • 602
4 votes
Accepted

Why is "The choir of bell-flowers" referred to as "a fragment of a long poem" in the subtitle?

The subtitle is present in the Ukrainian original: "Хор лісових дзвіночків (уривок із поеми)" ["Chorus of forest bells (excerpt from a poem)"]. So it definitely was not added by ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
4 votes
Accepted

Was "sweet" a common euphemism for "foolish"?

I waited for someone else to answer this question, but it seems that I have to. No, the meaning of "sweet" itself is pretty much similar to what is in English (sweetheart, darling, or simply ...
Be Brave Be Like Ukraine's user avatar

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