26 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 ...
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  • 2,468
20 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. ...
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  • 4,744
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 ...
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10 votes
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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, ...
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  • 550
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 ...
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7 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 ...
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6 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 ...
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6 votes
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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 ...
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6 votes
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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 ...
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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 ...
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5 votes
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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 ...
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4 votes
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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 ...
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4 votes
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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 ...
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  • 550
3 votes
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Was Milena's husband evading taxes?

Yes. Such arrangement was very common even in ordinary employment: get only the minimum wage officially, and the rest as cash in an envelope. Yes, a form of tax evasion. But the downside is reduced ...
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  • 371
2 votes
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What did Herman mean when he claimed that operators monitor people's conversations?

Operators certainly have listened in on conversations, particularly in the days when all connections were made manually. If for no other reason that to have something to gossip about. (Especially ...
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  • 4,744
2 votes
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What is the Ukrainian equivalent of a community college?

According to Wikipedia, there isn’t really an exact equivalent to community college, but the lowest level of accreditation for post-secondary education is the technical school and some graduates of ...
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  • 2,468
1 vote
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Is there an abandoned Soviet airport near Luhansk?

Perhaps the Staryy Aerodrom near Vovchansk, in the north of Ukraine very near the Russian border. It's in the Kharkiv oblast of Ukraine, but on the eastern side of that, relatively near the Luhansk ...
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1 vote
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Why did the priest arrive in an ambulance?

We see the ambulance being used as what amounts to a community taxi elsewhere in the book. As the novel says, that's just how things worked there. Evidently, the alcohol was demolishing him—after ...
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  • 4,350
1 vote
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Is Markiyan Kamysh at risk of radiation-related illness?

Yes, he is. The author took substantial risks, even going so far as to travel on a boat across the cooling pond by Reactor 4 (which was the reactor that melted down), a trip that the author describes ...
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