Russian Photo Album: many topics illustrating Russian life and cultureRussian text translation and 3-way interpreted phone calls by Natalya Mann, Ph.D. (Linguistics) and native Russian.  Service relating to: Russian correspondence, Russian business, Russian documents, Russian language, Russian words, Russian education, Cyrillic, Russian alphabet, Russian trade, Russian mail, Russian culture, Russian phone calls, Russian communication, Russian research, Russian letters, old Russian text, Russian books, Russian articles, Russian school, Russian military, Russian publicationsRussian Photo Album: many topics illustrating Russian life and culture

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Natalya Mann

Mann Enterprises,
Russian Translation & Interpretation
by Natalya Mann, Ph.D. (linguistics)

Phone: 417-742-4617
Mail: PO Box 5, Willard, MO 65781

[Russian Text Translation] : Text translation by e-mail & fax. From $5/100 words for general correspondence. Natalya Mann, Ph.D. (Linguistics), native Russian, 13 years as English teacher in Russian schools and universities.
[Professional Resume] : Russian Translator, Natalya Mann's professional resume.
[Russian Links and Photos] : Russian People, Culture, History, Life... Native Russian woman, Natalya Mann, shares some of her personal photos, scans, and other interesting and useful links. Many Russian topics depicted with captions. Browse & enjoy...

Presented by: Natalya Mann, Mann Enterprises, Russian Translation Service
P.O. Box 5, Willard, MO 65781, USA, 417-742-4617


Russian Photo Album: many topics illustrating Russian life and cultureRussian text translation and 3-way interpreted phone calls by Natalya Mann, Ph.D. (Linguistics) and native Russian.  Service relating to: Russian correspondence, Russian business, Russian documents, Russian language, Russian words, Russian education, Cyrillic, Russian alphabet, Russian trade, Russian mail, Russian culture, Russian phone calls, Russian communication, Russian research, Russian letters, old Russian text, Russian books, Russian articles, Russian school, Russian military, Russian publicationsRussian Photo Album: many topics illustrating Russian life and culture

Below is the total caption text of the Russian photographs presented in the "Photo Album" on this web site. They are presented by: Natalya Mann, Mann Enterprises, Russian Translation Service, P.O. Box 5, Willard, MO 65781, USA, E-mail:, web site:

Russian Pioneer Students:

During the early 1980's I led a group of Russian "Pioneer" students. Pioneers was an organization for children from the age of 10. It was organized after the death of Lenin in 1924. Pioneers was similar to Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H, etc... combined. They even used a motto, "Always ready", that was similar to the Boy Scout motto, "Be prepared". This is a photo of my group. I am in the middle. The children are dressed in the Pioneer uniform. It included a white shirt and red neckerchief. Pioneers disappeared with the collapse of the Soviet system.

Russian University Students:

Here are four of my friends with me at the University in Volgograd (Stalingrad), Russia. This photo was taken during the mid 1970's. I am in the middle. In Russia, university education was free, but there were about 15 applicants for every available opening so the competition was very stiff. Now many universities can not afford to offer free instruction and they charge tuition. Students may interrupt their education for compulsory military service but it is more common to postpone military service until education is complete. Some universities have military departments for students who want to become military officers. Notice the use of fur as clothing. Fur is commonly used even today in Russia because of the long cold Russian winters. One of the University buildings is in the background.

My Mother as a Child in Russia:

This is an old photograph of my mother. I think she was about four years old. It was taken in a portrait photographer's studio in Russia during the early 1930's. Notice the doll she is holding. It's dress is decorated with lace. Such style is common in traditional Russian costume. The girl is holding flowers. Flowers are very popular in Russia. Students usually bring flowers to school for their teacher on special occasions.

Young Russians Relaxing at the Beach:

Here are some friends recreating by the Volga River at Volgograd (Stalingrad), Russia during the mid 1970's. There are some beaches established along the river for people to enjoy. The beaches are mostly across the river from the city and it is common to take a ferry boat across to them. The Volga River is about one mile wide at this point. The water is always rather cold in the Volga, even during the hot summer months. Notice the small tent. We actually had several tents and spent a couple days camping, fishing, catching crayfish, lying in the sun, swimming, etc... In Russia it is popular to eat crayfish with beer.

Russian College Girls in a Dormitory:

Usually two or three students live together in one room during the 1990's. They can rent a T.V. set or a refrigerator. Usually there is one bathroom for two or three rooms and one shower for each floor.

Russian Gas Station:

Private cars are very expensive in Russia and they are considered to be a luxury rather than a means of transportation. This car is of one of the popular Russian models, "Moskvich". This particular car is a model from the late 70's. In the background, you can see a Russian ambulance.

My Father at a Russian Military Vacation Resort:

The sign is advertising a vacation at a resort location. The sign says, "Welcome to Truskavets!" This photo was taken during the early 1980's. My father is anticipating a vacation there. Truskavets is a health spa that used to host military people on leave. It featured mineral water for bathing and drinking. Truskavets is located at the verge of the Carpathians, some 75 miles south of Lvov, Ukraine. The text on the billboard is in Ukranian. There are also many popular vacation resorts along the Black Sea coast as well as in the Caucasus Mountains. The Caucasus Mountains are in the area of Chechnya and the city of Groznyy.

My Parents by a Stream:

These are my parents during a vacation by a small stream. This photograph was made during the early 1970's. The location is the resort town of Sukhumi in Georgia not far from Sochi. During this time many Russian people could afford to take vacations in such places.

My Father in Uniform:

My father was an artillery officer in the Soviet army. He retired at the rank of colonel. For several years he was in charge of the military conscription process for a district of Volgograd (Stalingrad). He was a World War II veteran. During the war he was with the Soviet troops that entered Berlin and took part in many battles during that campaign. Most of the medals worn on the uniform represent some action taken during this time. World War II is known as "The Great Patriotic War" in Russia.

Russian Moose Hunting:

Moose are common in many areas of Russia. Much of Russia has terrain and climate similar to Canada. Notice the military caps and coats of the hunters. Like in America, it is common to use military surplus gear for hunting and camping in Russia. The guns they are using are shotguns, mostly double barrel 16 gauge. Many people own such guns. A common practice is to reload the ammunition. Usually full brass shells are used. This photograph was taken during the early 1980's. My father and my brother are among the hunters pictured here.

Alex's Russian First Grade Classroom:

My daughter, Alexandra, attended first grade in Volgograd, Russia. I actually enrolled Alex in the first grade early in order to have her complete one year of Russian education before coming to America. The Russian education system is one of the best in the world, even today. The emphasis of the Russian education system is on academics. Unlike in American schools, homework is assigned to all students beginning from the first grade. The theory is that the children must practice what they learn if they are to retain the knowledge and be proficient with it. This photograph was taken in 1996 by my future husband, Dave, while he was visiting there.

Old Russian Military Veteran:

Gregori is a close friend of my family. His family became very close to me after my parents died. Gregori was a Soviet military veteran as evidenced by the medals. His speciality was military reconnaissance. After his military service, he became the head of a large engineering facility in Volgograd. Now he is retired and enjoys stamp collecting. Gregori's wife, Tatyana, retired from teaching English at the University. English, German, and French are very popular in Russian schools. A second language is required in Russian education.

Mamayev Hill Monuments in Volgagrad (Stalingrad):

These are monuments at Mamayev Hill in Volgograd (Stalingrad), Russia, my city of origin. This is the place where the Soviet army defeated Hitler's army on the eastern front during World War II. It overlooks the city. The figure in the background is the "Motherland" statue. It is about 200 feet high and stands on the peak of Mamayev Hill. There, the battle raged more than 5 months while the front moved about over this hill. There were over a million casualties. The city was totally destroyed. Every building now in Volgograd is no older than this battle.

Changing of the Guard:

This is the Hall of Military Glory which is in the center of a memorial ensemble dedicated to the heroes of the battle of Stalingrad. The walls of the circular building are covered by plaques with the names of the casualties engraved on them. A ceremonial guard stands 24 hours a day at this place. Fresh flowers are arranged here all year around. They are brought here by people from all over the world. This photo of the "changing of the guard" was taken in 1996. In the middle of the Hall of Military Glory is a large sculptured hand with a torch of eternal flame, the symbol of everlasting memory for those who gave their lives for peace and freedom.

Alex in a Traditional Russian Dress:

This is my daughter, Alex. She is wearing a traditional Russian Dress. This is the type of costume reflects the old culture of the Russian people. You might see similar clothing in illustrations of characters from Russian myths and tales. Check the snow maiden (granddaughter) in the picture illustrating Russian Santa. You can see some more recent photos of Alex at

Russian Santa Claus Postcard:

The postcard illustrated here was published in Russia around 1988 (copyright date). It illustrates Father Frost, the Russian equivalent of Santa Claus. He is usually illustrated with his granddaughter, the snow maiden, Snegurochka riding with an evergreen tree and presents in a traditional Russian troika. A troika is a sleigh drawn by 3 horses yoked abreast. The banner reads, "Happy New Year!" Christmas is now celebrated in Russia on January 7. After the Russian October Revolution in 1917, the calendar was changed to place Christmas after New Year's Day. This was done in order to place more emphases on the non-religious New Year's Day. For this reason, the Russian Father Frost is associated with New Year's Day rather than with Christmas.

Alex, Ulya, and Me in a Moscow City Park:

I am in a Moscow City Park along with Alex and her friend, Ulya. There are a lot of such parks in Moscow and many other Russian cities. The tree is a birch tree. The birch tree is perhaps the most well know tree in Russia. Some people consider the birch tree to be a symbol of Russia.

Alex & Ulya on the Volga Embankment:

My daughter, Alex, and her friend, Ulya, play on the Volga Embankment near the Volga River in Volgograd (Stalingrad). The Volga river is perhaps the most important river in Russia for transportation and commerce. It flows almost the entire length of western Russia from north to south. At this point it is about 2 km. (over a mile) wide.

Russian Potato Harvest:

My aunt takes a break while digging potatoes. Behind her is a structure to store them in during the winter. While most Russians live in cities, they usually have a dacha or summer cottage. This is a place outside the city where they can garden and recreate. Some of them are quite elaborate while some are no more than a garden with a small storage shed. The size of a dacha is usually about like a city lot in an American residential area. Now, because of the difficult economic situation, Russians who are not paid their salary for several months try to make ends meet by using their dacha's crop for food and sale.

Native Russian, Natalya Mann, at Home in Missouri:

My husband, Dave, took this photo of me at our home in Missouri. He is an avid photographer and supplies us with many photos. Perhaps we can travel in Russia again some day and bring back a lot of pictures.

Russian Submarine:

Here is a photograph of a Russian Submarine near Sevastopol. This is in the region of Crimea on the Black Sea. Sevastopol is one of Russia's most important sea ports. It is considered to be a closed military city so people (especially foreigners) must have special permission to enter here.

Snow Skiing near Moscow:

My great uncle and a nephew enjoy skiing during a holiday near Moscow. Cross country snow skiing is a very popular sport in Russia because of the long, cold winters and large amounts of snow that occur there. Ice (figure) skating is also very popular in Russia. In winter it is common to see open skating rinks full of children and adults among the buildings.

Destroyed Russian Church:

This Russian church, like many other things, was destroyed during World War II. This photo was taken during the 1990's. There is was construction going on to restore it when this photo was taken. Churches started being destroyed in Russia after the October Revolution on 1917. Atheism was introduced all over the Soviet Union. It was forbidden for young people (pioneers and komsomol members) to attend church services. Members of the communist party who tried to baptize their children in church were punished.

Russian Copper Art:

These are good examples of Russian copper art. Notice the main themes: nature, birch trees, and pretty girls. These things are characteristic of Russian art. There are Russian songs and poetry about birch trees that personify them as slender, young, beautiful Russian girls.

Russian Hunting Shop:

This Russian hunting shop in Moscow features a wild boar's head mounted near the front window. Hunting is a popular sport in Russia. There, is perhaps the largest remaining wildlife range in the world.

Russian Bread Bakery

Many products are still sold in small shops in Russia. This small bakery is located in Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). The bread is sold unwrapped. It is simply handed to the customer who puts it into his own shopping bag. Russia is known for it's bread. I am particularly fond of Russian rye bread. Sliced bread is unheard of in Russia. I never saw a loaf of sliced bread until I came to America in 1996.

Street Vendors in Volgograd Russia:

Ordinary Russians shop on the sidewalks of Volgograd for everyday needs. At these markets, almost everything is available from fresh fish to clothing. My husband, Dave, took this photograph as he visited in 1996. He was amazed to see a whole hog's head for sale from one of these tables. We went for a short walk and upon returning saw that the hog's head had been sold.

Russian Church Baptism:

Russian Orthodox church members participate in a baptism ceremony. Until the collapse of the Soviet system this kind of activity was restricted. Members of the communist party were strictly forbidden to participate in such activity. During the Soviet era, if you were not a communist in Russia, you could hardly have success in you community or in your career.

Russian Bath Tub:

This is a photograph of a typical Russian bath tub in one of the apartments in Volgograd. Mounted on the wall behind it, is a gas water heater. To get hot water, one must turn on the water and light the gas burner in the heater. The water runs through a coil of pipes that are heated by the burner. This supplies hot water to the kitchen also. When finished, one must first shut off the burner and then shut off the water. There is no hot water reservoir (hot water tank) like in most American facilities. Notice the clothes drying lines over the tub. Most of the laundry is done by hand in the bath tub and hung up to dry on these lines. In the summer, laundry can be hung outside on the balcony.

Russian Village Painting:

This oil painting of a small Russian Village was done by my great uncle. It shows a village before the collective process of the Soviet regime. The depiction is of someone returning home at the end of the day. The subject matter is characteristic of old Russian rural life: horses, snow, wooden houses, short winter days...

Russian Fast Food:

Pirozhki are pastries filled with various combinations of meat, cabbage, mushrooms, potato, and occasionally some other ingredients. It is one of the most traditional foods in Russia. They are often sold on the street by vendors like this one. Other traditional Russian food is borsch. Borsch is a vegetable soup made with chopped beets, onions, tomatoes, and shredded cabbage. It is served with pieces of meat and sour cream. It can be followed with sweet bleeny (thin pancakes with jam, honey, or sour cream.)

Russian Tea:

No Russian table is complete without a samovar. This is an urn in which water is boiled to make tea. In Old Russia samovars were heated with coal. Now most of them are electric. Russians like to drink sweet black tea with lemon, varenye (kind of jam but thinner) or milk. You can see a small tea pot in the foreground. This contains very strong (concentrated) tea. The silver samovar contains hot water with which to dilute the tea to the desired strength. Each cup is diluted to the individual's taste. This picture was taken during 1996 New Year holiday. This was in fact the occasion where my husband, Dave, first met with my relatives in Russia.

The Frozen Volga River:

Even as far south as Volgograd, the Volga River freezes quite solidly in the Winter. Here, my husband Dave and I, are sitting on a large slab of ice halfway across the Volga. The surface has frozen to a depth of about 2 meters (6 feet). We are about 1 kilometer from the nearest shore. The ice does not freeze smooth but rather rough as you can see. During the winter, people regularly commute across the river by foot to work or shop in the city. This is the same place the Russian defenders had to cross the frozen river with supplies during the battle of Stalingrad in WWII.

The Volga River:

The Volga is the longest river in Europe. It flows over 3,500 kilometers (1,900 miles) from its source in the Valdai Hills, northwest of Moscow. It empties into the Caspian Sea below Astrakhan. It is linked to the Moscow river by a canal, to the Baltic Sea by the Volga-Baltic Waterway, and to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov by the Volga-Don Canal.

The Caucasus Mountains:

The Caucasus Mountains are one of the tourist attractions south of Russia. The Elbrus range is the highest in the Caucasus. This picture was taken in 1997. In the background you can see Mt. Nakra covered in the clouds.

Above is the total caption text of the Russian photographs presented in this web site. They are presented by: Natalya Mann, Mann Enterprises, Russian Translation Service, P.O. Box 5, Willard, MO 65781, USA, E-mail:, web site:

Have you ever eaten Russian bread?
Natalya Mann, native Russian, shares a receipe
for Russian Black Rye Bread

In Russia, a meal is not complete without bread. It is considered to be the most staple food. Bread is considered to be one of the national symbols of Russia and is one of the ingredients for the familiar "Bread and Salt" ceremony.

I lived in Volgograd, Russia for almost 40 years and until I came to the United States in 1996 I had never seen a loaf of pre-sliced bread. My favorite of all the Russian breads is black rye bread. I was not able to find anything similar in the United States. After about 2 years, I adapted a receipe given to me from another Russian friend. This involved converting units from metric to English and adjusting the moisture so it would work in a bread machine. The result was almost identical to the best black rye bread I had in Volgograd. Here is the receipe. Try it and Enjoy. The photo at the left was taken in a Russian bakery but the bread shown is not black rye. If I get a good photo of black rye, I'll show it.

What's in a Russian Name?

Did you ever notice a pattern to Russian middle names? Well, here's an explanation of how Russian names work.

As all Russian children, I was given only my first name by my parents. My middle name already existed even before my birth. The matter is that in Russia each child has a middle name that is constructed of their father's first name. This name is called a patronymic. Being a daughter of Alexander, my middle name or patronymic is Alexandrovna. This name was constructed by adding the ending "ovna" to my father's first name. This indicates that I am a female child of a man named Alexander. As for my brother Victor, his patronymic is "Alexandrovich" where the ending "ovich" indicates a male child of Alexander.

The photo of my family illustrates this naming system. From left to right in the photo is: Alexander (my father), Natalya Alexandrovna (me), Victor Alexandrovich (my brother), and Tamara Dmitriyevna (my mother). My mother's father was named Dmitri. Sometimes there are special rules for the spelling of patronymics.

Russians are proud of their patronymics. One of the most common forms af addressing people in Russia is to say their first and patronymic name. For instance, "Natalya Alexandrovna", "Ivan Petrovich", etc...

When answering the question, "What's you name", Russian people reply in a particular way according to their age or status. Children and students give their last name first, then their first name. (ex: Lebedev, Ivan). Adult people give their last name, then the first name and patronymic. (ex: Grishina, Natalya Alexandrovna). In both cases the last name is given first.

How about a Game of Chess?
Some Comments from Russian Native, Natalya Mann:

In Russia you can hear the question, "How about a game of chess?" about as often as you can hear, "How about a cup of tea?" You can hardly meet a Russian person who has no idea how to play chess. Of course not all Russians play as fantastic as Alyokhin, Karpov, or Kasparov but they appreciate this game a lot. In summer you're sure to see some special chess tables in the parks in many cities. People gather together to try their skills on the chess battlefield. You'll definately spot some chess groups even on the beach on a hot day. Chess fans are waiting impatiently to take their turn at the board playing against the previous winner. Not many women can be seen among the players but I was always there!

I am very thankful to my father who brought home a chess set one day and showed me the magic of putting the pieces to life. Since then I have been addicted to chess. But there were not only roses on the way to understanding the strategy of the game and mastering the theory. As many kids I preferred practice to theory and asked my father to play with me.

He made me learn theory first. I had to drill a lot of beginnings, middles and ends of the game and then he agreed to play with me. I made my best efforts to win but never could. The matter is that my father was a military man and a professional chess player. He used to participate in many competitions which were very popular among military officers and had many awards and diplomas for winning. I was dreaming one day to have my own chess awards. But I had to wait for some years. My first diploma appeared when I was in the 9th grade of high school. Having become a chess champion on my school I was sent to compete with the students of our district who represented about 10-15 schools. The best players were invited to the final competiion where the best chess players from all the schools of the city of Volgograd met. As you can guess I brought home my first diploma that day. I was very proud and my father said it was a good start but he still didn't take me seriously and he was right because I could not beat him.

As I got older I became more sophisticated. My mastering theory didn't work with my father because he was a Napoleon at the chess table. So I decided to use a different approach. First I need to mention that chess was not the only hobby of my dad. He was also fond of hunting and playing card games. So on weekends from time to time he had a card party at our place. Some friends came over and had dinner with cognak or vodka. Then they played for hours drinking some more alcohol. When our guests left my father looked tired and of course drunk enough to loose his concentration so I was there waiting for him with a chess board. He never refused me on such days. Nevertheless I can boast of only two or three victories of such sort. He was really and expert!

As for me I gained some more experience later and got more victories and more chess awards. When I worked at the middle and high school after graduating from the University I organized a chess club for my students. I wanted to take them into the magic world of chess with me and pique their interest in the game. Later their own victories were also the best reward for me.

Now my daughter has started to explore the magic world of chess. She is always upset after playing with me. She just can't understand why she fails. Anyway she reminds me of myself...

I recollect some more curious moments with chess involved. As a rule, Russian men (as probably the majority of men atound the world) don't like to be beaten in chess by a woman. I appeared to be in several situations of such kind which I remember quite vividly even after many years. Once there was a party at my girl-friend's house who recently got married to a man from the Caucasus. He was bright but hot tempered and patriarchally oriented, considering women to have been created from the rib of a man. After dinner followed dancing and singing. Then the men decided to play some chess games while the women were gossiped. The host (our Caucasian man) won several games in a row and looked very proud waiting for the next "victim". One man (my former classmate) offered for him to play a game with me but the proud winner declared that he considered it not serious to play with a woman. After hearing I was a little bit hurt but at the same time excited so I came to him and asked him to play a game with me. Being a gentleman he couldn't refuse a woman. So we started and after a while he got mated. He seemed to be very surprised and explained, "I didn't think hard, let's play again!" We did and again I won. We played three games that evening and all three times he failed. After that time he has never again played chess with me.

Russian School Chess Club

After graduating from the University I worked six years in school teaching English and German from the 5th to the 11th grades. It was a very interesting period of my life. I gained my teaching experience and grew in a personal way. It was the time when I organized a chess club at school but there was a little story behind it. Once a sport competition between school teachers took place. Each school of the town presented a team which had to compete with others in different activities including running, swimming, mountain climbing, tent arranging, fire making, cooking, and others. Among the activities there also were table tennis, checkers, and chess. It was my first year at school as a teacher and no one knew my love for chess. When at the teachers' meeting the team for the competition was selected there was only one weak spot in the team because one man was listed both in checkers and chess competition. I offered my help with chess but nobody was impressed saying that there were no other women playing chess from schools and it would be difficult for me to compete with men. I replied that I didn't mind this and, in the end, they chose me. But they seemed not to expect any surprises.

The day of chess competition came and I was among other men ready to measure themselves against a rival. As in other sports each pulled out the number of the first competitor and six games were held simultaneously. After that all the winners had to compete in one group and those who lost played against each other in another group. Eventually I found myself in the finals competing for the first five places. After several more hours of battle I finished in second place having lost only to one celebrity who was actually a champion for several years. He admitted that his victory over me was not at all easy and I was invited to join the town's chess club team that was famous for their victories on higher level competition. From that very moment my chess career started as a member of the town chess club and later as an instructor of the chess club at school.