Russian Word of the Day: взятка-bribe


Comes from the verb вязть-to take

There’s a saying, “В России всё можно” (In Russia everything is possible) about how you can scoot your way around all sorts of laws.  This you can typically do with the help of a взятка. When I was in Ukraine I came down with horrible appendicitis and had to get an appendectomy.  The doctors were very reluctant to do this for me because I wasn’t Ukrainian.  But Pasha’s parents дали врачам 50 баксов на лапу (greased the doctors’ palms with 50 bucks)to help me so that I didn’t die right there on the filthy hospital floor.

Myself and my English roommate with our guard, George

But I must admit that I never figured out how to do the whole bribe thing. I wanted to, trust me, I wanted to. But I just didn’t know how to follow through with all of it. Our Moscow State University dorm only allowed other students from our university to enter. My best friend, Borya, was a student of Baumanskiy University and was not allowed to enter.  Well, this wouldn’t have been a problem had Booya(the rya sound was hard for me when we first met so I just called him Booya) been willing to work something out with the guard at my dorm. But he was among the freakish minority in Russia who refused to give bribes out of principle. So we celebrated many holidays and occasions out on the street because he couldn’t come upstairs.  I had been hearing about how English guys in our dorm had been getting their Russian girlfriends in with the help of взятки. So I decided I was going to try it so that Booya could come upstairs to celebrate March 8, since it was freezing outside.  I got out 500 rubles (about 15 bucks which is a lot for a guard who only made about $100 a month back then) and went down to George, our guard. I made Booya wait outside because I didn’t want him to see what I was about to do. I slid the bill towards George on his desk and said quietly, “Впустите моего друга, ладно?” (Let my friend in, okay?) I tried to act so serious and intimidating but he saw right through it and burst out laughing. So we ate the  homemade шоколадные картошки (a chocolate sort of pastry, a favorite of mine) that Booya had made me out on the street in the cold. So I guess everything is possible in Russia unless you’re a sweet American girl who doesn’t know how to bribe correctly.

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