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So, in Star Trek: The Original Series, the character Pavel Chekov was introduced in the second season. Among his quirks is claiming that a whole bunch of things were invented in Russia. For a small sampling from that page:

  • He claimed that the old Earth saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me," was invented in Russia. (TOS: "Friday's Child")
  • He claimed that the English story about the Cheshire Cat was a Russian story about a disappearing cat from Minsk. (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")
  • He claimed that the Garden of Eden was located just outside Moscow. He claimed that it was "a very nice place" and that "it must've made Adam and Eve very sad to leave." Which Kirk sarcastically responded with "Just..outside Moscow, all right" (TOS: "The Apple")

Is there any evidence that Chekov actually believes all his claims1, or was he intentionally messing with the rest of the crew?

1Minus the sarcastic "tsar of all the Russias" to Apollo.

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  • In the real world, groups of people develop in-jokes and gags that are slightly odd to outsiders. I always took Chekov's "in-Soviet-Russia-we-made-all-the-things" attitude to be one of those wonderful running jokes that's being made by both the writers and the character. Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 2:04
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    Adam and Eve were 100% Russian. How do you know? They had no cloths to wear, only an apple to eat, no sex, and called their life circumstances "Paradise". BTW, this is 100% authentic Soviet joke :) Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 9:27
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    That's the same category as Klingon Shakespeare :)
    – bitmask
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 11:04
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    BTW, "tsar of all the Russias" is a nearly correct literal translation of the official title of the monarch ("Государь Всея Руси") Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 12:43
  • Al Gore invented the internet! Commented Oct 2, 2012 at 18:33

1 Answer 1

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This joke was a throwback to a typical "This was invented in Russia" (aka "Russia is the Birthplace of Elephants", or "Россия — родина слонов"), which referred to Soviet attempts to brainwash people into the fact that the Motherland invented everything (in some interesting ways, sometimes correct - such as the case with radios: Popov's radio came before Marconi's, but he didn't bother patenting it AFAIR).

(Of course, in a special meta bit of irony, the phrase "Russia is the birthplace of elephants" itself was apparently first uttered not by a Russian, but by a spanish traveler in 18th century, who saw mammoth remains in St. Petersburg museum).

Most of the people using the phrase for the last 70-80 years in USSR/Russia used it ironically/sarcastically unless they were Party Leaders, therefore, Chekov coudn't possibly be serious.

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    Not to be confused with a different "Russia is the place of the biggest X", culminating in "Russia is the place of the biggest microchips!" Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 9:48
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    Interesting... there doesn't really seem to be anything about this phenomenon in English (discounting translating that page, at least), so, it's basically a Russian version of "Everything's bigger in Texas"?
    – Izkata
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 12:36
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    @Izkata - quite correct, the "biggest X" is 100% the same. Same psychological thing, stemming from the same geographical underpinnings Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 12:40
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    “therefore, Chekov coudn't possibly be serious” — unless World War III meant that Chekov had heard the claims, but wasn’t aware that they were generally used as jokes. Commented Mar 21, 2013 at 22:20
  • Note that Chekov is noted explicitly as making other (non-Russia related jokes like "So close we can smell them" in Tribble
    – Andrew
    Commented Jan 10 at 0:26

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