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RUSSIAN FEDERATION, GLUBOKY : Russian policemen look at the wreckage of the Tupolev 154 passenger jet which crashed near Gluboky, a village some 140 km outside Rostov on Don (AFP Photo / Tatyana Makeyeva)

24 August

On August 24, 2004 two Russian domestic passenger airplanes crashed within minutes of each other, after explosions were set off on board by two female Chechen terrorists.…

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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: Vanka-Vstanka

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“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down!”  was the famous catchphrase from the American roly-poly toy coined in the 1970’s. However, even though it was the middle of the Cold War, roly-poly toys were busy wobbling and standing up in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, too. 

The Nevаlashka or Vanka-Vstanka doll of Russia was just one incarnation of the popular egg shaped toy which, with a weight in the bottom was pushed by a child then wobbled back to a stand.

Most households during the Soviet Union had a Vanka-Vstanka for the children to play with. It was also a popular boy’s name meaning, ‘get up!’ which is precisely what it did! Roly-poly toys have entered cultures around the world. In China, they’re often designed as a clownish caricature of a local official, mocking the ineptitude of local bureaucrats. One theatre group dresses up an actor as a roly-poly toy for the audience to interact with. And the author Enid Blyton created the characters Mr and Mrs Wobblyman based on the swaying playthings.

With a bell inside ringing to the child’s pushes, Vanka-Vstankas, and their worldwide incarnations remain popular toys to this day.

Written by Tom Barton, RT correspondent