The most controversial figures in Russian history on RT Documentary
Margaret Thatcher (AFP Photo)

24 January

On January 24, 1977 a Russian newspaper, in an article about Margaret Thatcher, the then-Prime Minister of Great Britain, called her “Iron Woman,” which, translated by the British Sunday Times newspaper as “Iron Lady,” sparked the universally known moniker Thatcher had been known by her entire political career.…

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Peter Carl Faberge

Peter Carl Faberge was a world famous master jeweler and head of the ‘House of Faberge’ in Imperial Russia in the waning days of the Russian Empire.

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Of Russian origin: Stilyagi

Кадр из кинофильма  Стиляги Screen shot from the movie "Stilyagi"

It’s the 1950s, it’s Russia and The Iron Curtain is very firmly in place.

But outside influences are beginning to slip through the cracks. Through the mediums of fashion and music, the rock-n-roll phenomenon began to take root in the guise of Moscow’s stilyagi or “hipsters”.

Against the grey backdrop of a cold war USSR, these daredevil teenagers sported daring, modern haircuts and makeup with brightly colored Western ties, jackets and pompadour trousers. An underground movement, they listened to the subversive, forbidden strains of American jazz and rock.

When Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” hit airwaves around the world in 1954, teenagers everywhere began change, not only in the way they dressed and the type of music they listened to, but also in attitude.

Кадр из кинофильма  Стиляги Screen shot from the movie "Stilyagi"

Like London’s “teddy boys”, Moscow’s hipsters defied social convention and the oppressive monotony of their everyday lives. But the drama of their unique historical context makes the stilyagi a uniquely fascinating cultural phenomenon. Unlike their contemporaries in Europe and the US, these youngsters risked not only the wrath of their parents, but the risk of arrest with the Russian police systematically organizing round-ups.

But for them it was worth it, for the stilyagi believed fervently in freedom of expression; not only for themselves but for all those around them and they resented the control with which the Soviet government ruled all aspects of their public and private lives.

In 2008, their mark was forever immortalized in the history books when acclaimed director Valery Todorovski dedicated his hugely popular 2008 film to its namesake, “Stilyagi”. It’s a nostalgic, feel-good romp of a musical. But the movie sets out to prove that rock-n-roll is not only about music – it is about a lifestyle and the need of all young people the world over to imprint their own personality on the way they live. 

Written by Alice Hibbert , RT news anchor and correspondent