Russian Language Blog

5 Words You Need To Understand Russian News — Part I Posted by on Jul 2, 2019 in language, News, when in Russia

If you read news stories in Russian, there are certain words that pop up again and again. Understanding these key concepts will help you grasp the writer’s and audience’s assumptions and the overall angle of the article. This post will cover the first two, and Part II will cover the rest.

US Capitol buidling

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

1. Власть

Власть corresponds to “power” or “authority” — the ability to make other people do things. Common collocations with власть include прийти́ к вла́сти (to get into office) and быть у вла́сти (to be in power). This word is related to the words владе́ть, to possess, and владе́лец, owner.

  • В це́лом же Соли́с по́сле прихо́да к вла́сти обеща́л «уделя́ть бо́льшее внима́ние справедли́вости».
    Generally speaking, after coming to power, Solís promised “to pay greater attention to justice.”
    [Виктор Горовой. Президент Коста-Рики запретил культ своей личности // Известия, 2014.06.27]

Власть or вла́сти in the plural can also refer to the authorities or governing bodies.

  • Во-пе́рвых, по́сле 1905 го́да власть боя́лась недово́льства рабо́чих.
    First, after 1905, the authorities were afraid of worker discontent.
    [КП. Первая мировая: 1914 – 1918 гг. от фронта до тыла // Комсомольская правда, 2014.08.01]
  • Сейча́с мы реша́ем э́тот вопро́с с федера́льными властя́ми.
    We are working with federal authorities now to solve this problem.
    [Татьяна Бородина. В Подмосковье беженцев ждут почти 5 тыс. вакансий // Известия, 2014.07.02]

A synonym for this usage is о́рганы вла́сти.

Houses of Parliament in London

Photo by Eva Dang on Unsplash

2. Госуда́рство

Another popular word for discussing policies is госуда́рство, the state. The English equivalent may be confusing for people living in countries that have constituent states, like the US. In many cases, госуда́рство is used in cases where we would say “the government” in English. Note that the literal translation for “government,” прави́тельство, technically only refers to the executive branch and does not include, for example, the country’s lawmakers.

Госуда́рство смо́жет получа́ть нало́ги от интернет-прода́ж, опера́торы не бу́дут необосно́ванно отре́заны от тако́й разнови́дности ро́зничной торго́вли.
The state will be able to collect taxes on online sales, and platforms will not be unjustly cut off from this kind of retail.
[Мария Самохвалова. Производители просят легализовать продажу алкоголя в интернете // Известия, 2014.06.30]

Public in the sense of “state-owned” is госуда́рственный. You might have heard this word in the names of some universities such as Моско́вский госуда́рственный университе́т (Moscow State University).

Число́ враче́й, рабо́тающих в госуда́рственных медучрежде́ниях, уме́ньшилось на 7,2 ты́сячи челове́к.
The number of physicians working in public health facilities has decreased by 7,200 people.
[КП. Минздрав: россияне платят за лечение больше, потому что медицина стала лучше // Комсомольская правда, 2014.08.04]

Have you come across any of these expressions? Make sure you read Part II of this post!

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.