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Fake Russian

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Indiana Jones: Well, the way you're sinking your teeth into those wubble-u's, I should think maybe... Eastern Ukraine.
Mike Nelson: Hm, I was thinking Fake-istan.

Very few characters from Russia (or the rest of the former Soviet Union, for that matter) in Western television are played by native Russians. This was a particular case in the Cold War, for obvious reasons.

As with Fake American, Fake Brit and all types of Fake Nationality, the quality of the imitation of the Russian accents varies from the very good to the awful to the not-even-attempted.

For convenience's sake, this trope covers the whole of the former Soviet Union in its post-World War II boundaries. Fake Russian text is The Backwards Я. As such, this also covers other ethnic groups in the Soviet Union.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Assassination Classroom: Lovro, to an egregious degree in the dub. Kent Williams gives him a heavy Russian accent, but his lines are full of figurative and idiomatic expressions that would be unlikely for a non-native speaker to use.
  • Bungou Stray Dogs has the Russian Fyodor Dostoevsky given an accent in the dub, courtesy of Ray Chase.
  • Simon the sushi tout in Durarara!!.
    • His voice actor doesn't even bother himself with imitating Russian accent — he just uses a generic foreign one, which (as it is Japan, after all) just happens to be English. He's actually a Russian of African descent since his parents were African Americans who settled in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
    • His dub voice actor does adopt a Russian accent for the role—except when reading inner monologue.
    • When Simon and Izaya try to converse in Russian in the anime, both their actors mangled the language so much that it didn't even register as Russian to the native ear.
  • The anime adaptation of Ginban Kaleidoscope had a terrific example of this in one of the episodes, where a Russian girl got lost in Japan. Not only is the accent so heavy, a native speaker would barely make out what the characters were saying, but the very way mother and daughter address each other is all wrong. You wouldn't believe it one bit if a mother called her daughter, well, actually "daughter", not by name; and especially the most formal form of the word, in Russian, which allows for tons of milder and friendlier word variations.
  • From Hetalia: Axis Powers we have Russia, whose American actor has a distinct generic Russian accent, not that the fangirls seem to mind. Considering that the show is based on national stereotypes, this actually makes sense.
  • Half-Russian Freesia Yagyuu spoke heavily Japanese accented Russian at times in Jubei Chan 2. Her mother being a member of a Siberian tribe from 300 years ago, she nevertheless makes many modern Russian stereotypical references. Subversively, this is because she's far smarter than she lets on, and her goofy "Rapanese" persona is fake.
  • Sergei Smirnov, and Sergei's estranged son Andrei from Mobile Suit Gundam 00. Also from the same series is Kazakh Allelujah Haptism, neither of whom has a least bit of accent. The in-universe Hand Wave is, the HRL is a melting pot for Russians, Indians and Chinese people.
  • In the two English dubs of the 39th/35th episode of Sailor Moon, the two Russian figure skaters, Misha and Janelyn/Janelle, were voiced by local actors.
  • Yuri!!! on Ice has a few Russian characters that have the appropriate accents in the dub — Yurio (Micah Solusod), Victor (Jerry Jewell, using a much less exaggerated accent than he did in Hetalia), and Yakov (Daman Mills).

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld, A.A. Pessimal gave up any attempt to reproduce a Russian accent in spoken Morporkian after a bout of Early-Installment Weirdness featuring his Far Überwaldean note  witches, Olga and Irena. It just did not look or sound right on the page. They're still Discworld "Russians" but their Russian-ness is now inferred in other ways: the word ''govno!" crops up a lot, for instance, but that's as close as it gets.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An old habit in the James Bond series:
  • Mandalay: Tanya Bodoroff is a Russian refugee living in British India. The actress who plays her, Kay Francis, is American. Katya Sergova, of Russian ascent, was considered for the role to avoid this. Alas, Francis proved to be a better fit for the role.
  • White Nights cast Soviet defector and ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov as a Soviet defector and ballet dancer who accidentally winds up back in the Soviet Union.
    • Jerzy Skolimowski, a Pole, was cast as the chief KGB officer assigned to keep track of him.
    • Isabella Rossellini (Swedish-Italian) is featured as a Russian.
    • Helen Mirren (born Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov), who is actually half-Russian, half-British.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, the Russian ambassador is played by British actor, Peter Bull. Though to be fair he's not really fooling any-one.
  • Gideon Emery, also a British actor, plays the Russian mobster Sergei in Takers.
  • Ed O'Ross, who hails from Pittsburgh, PA, has played Russians several times in both TV and film.
  • In Hollywood, Russian characters have been played by Swedish actors on a number of occasions. This has apparently led some to perceive Swedish accents as Russian ones even when they are not intended as such. Examples include:
  • The film K-19: The Widowmaker, set aboard a Russian submarine, is 138 minutes of non-stop fake Russian. From Liam Neeson, Peter Sarsgaard and Harrison Ford, of all people (Ford has stated in an interview that many were afraid to "invest in me with a Russian accent"). Neeson wisely gives up and reverts to his Irish brogue about halfway through the movie.
    • Amazingly, the Russian dub happily rectifies all of the awkwardness. The translation and dubbing were apparently given much thought and labor, and the end result is suprisingly convincing, bold and heartfelt performances in Russian (even though some expressions still betray a little of the foreigner's perspective). Russian dub version of the movie shows very sure and organic performances of noble and humane Russian sailors in a (sorely lacking) Russian heroic-but-tragic war movie, with acting by Ford, Neeson, Sarsgaard and others as a cool bonus.
  • Eastern Promises. Viggo Mortensen spent some time unaccompanied in the rural region of Russia his character is meant to originate from to not only absorb the dialect, but the regional culture as well. His costars did not however go to such lengths.
  • Sean Connery plays the half-Lithuanian, half-Russian submarine commander (with hish ushual Shcottish acshent) Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October. There are a number of other examples in that film alone, including the two other main Russian characters played by Sam Neill (New Zealander) and Tim Curry (English), Peter "Harry Pearce" Firth (English), and Stellan Skarsgård, a Swedish actor, who has a small role as a Soviet submarine captain sent to hunt down the defecting eponymous vessel.
    • Brilliantly averted, however, by Alec Baldwin in the same film, as Jack Ryan, who nailed the pronunciation of his Russian lines perfectly.
  • The Russia House features American Michelle Pfeiffer and Austrian Klaus Maria Brandauer, both as Russians.
  • Firefox. (No, not the browser, a movie with Clint Eastwood.) "You have to think think think in (fake) Russian (fake) Russian (fake) Russian...."
    • Justified, as Eastwood's character is supposed to be half-Russian, and was born and raised in the United States. His accent being a bit off is understandable. How he manages to fool Russian soldiers with his horrible accent is a different matter.
  • Nicole Kidman (Australian), Mathieu Kassovitz and Vincent Cassel (two Frenchmen) play Russians in Birthday Girl. In fairness, the fact that Kidman's character is not Russian is part of the plot.
  • Enemy at the Gates, set during the siege of Stalingrad, featured Jude Law, Rachel Weisz and Joseph Fiennes as members of the Soviet army... plus Bob Hoskins as (rather unconvincing — he failed to Chew The Scenery enough) Nikita Khrushchev. All of them are Brits. None of them used fake-Russian accents in that movie, however. Some of the American actors affected British accents as well. Led to some oddity when the Germans were primarily American actors, using American accents.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull features Cate Blanchett (Australian) as an Eastern Ukrainian Soviet, and she reportedly did pretty well - while gleefully Chewing the Scenery.
    • Cate Blanchett also played a glamorous Russian dancer in the earlier (and much lesser known) film, The Man Who Cried.
    • Averted with Spalko's Dragon Colonel Dovchenko, who is played by the Moscow-born Igor Jijikine and speaks Russian without an accent. The character's last name indicates Ukrainian origins, though.
  • In addition to the usual "British and Americans as Russians", Doctor Zhivago also stars Egyptian-born Omar Sharif as the title character.
  • In the action/parody Cats & Dogs there's a villainous cat-burgler (that's a cat who is a burglar) armed with numerous spy-gadgets known only as 'The Russian', who naturally speaks in the stereotypical Russian accent used by Cold War villains.
  • None other than our favorite Austrian, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the movie Red Heat. Ed O'Ross (from Pittsburgh) tells Arnold's character to "Go to arse" (could be translated as "Go to Hell") in a perfect Russian with Georgian accent. Which was the only correctly pronounced Russian phrase in the whole movie.
  • Robin Williams in Moscow on the Hudson. Williams was particularly dedicated to being fluent in Russian for the role. Years later, he could still carry on a conversation in the language.
  • The President's Analyst - Severn Darden plays a sympathetic KGB agent with an accent like a toned-down Mischa Auer (comic actor known for "Mad Russian" roles) - when we first see him he is speaking in Russian with a superior.
  • The Dark Knight has Beatrice Rosen (French-American) as the Russian prima ballerina who lectures Harvey Dent, and Richie Coster (English) as the Chechen gangster (not Russian in the strict sense, but he portrays his character as a stereotypical Russian mafioso).
  • The Hunt (2012) has Nadja played by Alexandra Rapaport, a Swedish actress. Her parents are Polish and Spanish.
  • Little Odessa: in this story set in a Russian-Jewish community of Brighton Beach, everybody except for some minor characters is played by Americans or Brits. Due to the fact that these are Russian-Americans, the lack of Russian accent and presence of American accent in the Russian dialogue would be intentional for some characters.
  • Lord of War: Nicolas Cage as Ukranian-pretending-to-be-Jewish arms dealer Yuri Orlov. Funny how Orlov is not a very Ukranian surname.note  Cage, as well as his brother played by Jared Leto, even manage several lines in Ukranian on-screen - surprisingly recognizable, at least compared to many other instances. Averted with several secondary characters, like Yuri's uncle, who are played by actual Ukranians and get their lines straight. Yuri's military uncle is played by Yevgeniy Lazarev, famed Belarusian actor—close, though not Ukrainian—who's got plethora of American and Russian film roles.
  • Curiously enough, the Tartars (derived from real life Tatars) in The Golden Compass speak perfect Russian! That can be considered a part of the Fake Russian phenomenon, because, well, real Tatar language is quite different from Russian. While it's arguably true for the book/movie (where one guesses the Muscovites had not united Rus', though it's not stated outright), it's worth noting that most real life Tatars do speak fluent Russian, Tatarstan being part of the Russian Federation, after all.
  • Zlatko Burić (Croatian) as Yuri Karpov (the oligarch), Johann Urb (Estonian) as Sasha (the pilot), and Beatrice Rosen (again!!!) as Tamara (the oligarch's mistress) in 2012. Also, Zinaid Memisevic (Bosnian) as Sergey Karpenko (Russian president). His interpreter, played by Igor Morozov, is the only "true" Russian in the movie.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Mickey Rourke plays Russian supervillain Ivan Vanko (a cross between Crimson Dynamo and Whiplash) in Iron Man 2. Rourke spent time in a Russian supermax prison just to absorb some local flavor and was coached on the language by his Russian girlfriend. In the same film, Scarlett Johansson makes her debut as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, who was Russian in the comics, but is not said to be Russian in the film, and nothing in her performance even hints at it.
    • In The Avengers (2012), we see Natasha conversing in Russian while under interrogation (by a Russian officer played by Polish actor Jerzy Skolimowski, who is speaking Russian, but Not Even Bothering with the Accent). Later in the film, she tells Loki in a Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: "I'm Russian...or was" (which is true to the mainstream Marvel continuity, wherein Natasha naturalized herself and got American citizenshipnote ).
    • In the Fury's Big Week comic (prequel to the Avengers film), the mutated Samuel Sterns (a.k.a. the comics' Leader) drops a hint at Natasha being originally from Stalingrad (now Volgograd), after picking up on her accent.
    • In-universe in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The titular Winter Soldier is made to look like a Russian assassin by using Russian-made weapons, speaking in Russian, and having a red star painted on his prosthetic arm, but in reality he's Bucky Barnes, an American from New York being controlled by American agents.
      • And that isn't even the end of it. Those American agents happen to be members of HYDRA, a secret society that originated in Nazi Germany, and the Winter Soldier - as a consequence of being portrayed by a Romanian-American actor - speaks Russian with a Romanian accent. Is this the Logical Extreme of this trope? Probably.
    • Black Widow also brought in more fake Russian people in Avengers: Age of Ultron (French Julie Delpy as coach Madame B.) and her solo movie (Brits Florence Pugh and Rachel Weisz as former Black Widows, while American David Harbour plays the Red Guardian). In those cases, there are Russian accents, which just shows that Natasha's lack of one is an indicator she has defected long ago (which also makes it funny on how in Natasha's solo movie, of four Russians who spent three years pretending to be an American family, only Natasha herself has learned to not sound Russian anymore).
  • In Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three, the Russian characters are played by Austrian and German actors.
  • Salt has two Polish actors playing the Soviet defector and the Russian president, and the American Corey Stoll playing one of the undercover agents (though like the rest of the agents in the movie, he's lived his whole adult life in America).
  • British Daniel Craig played Belarussian Tuvia Bielski in Defiance. His accent when speaking Russian was less than convincing.
  • Variously averted, subverted, and played straight in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. By the numbers:
    • Dana Elcar is not Russian in any way, and his accent as Dimitri Moisevich is subpar to say the least. His radio transmissions in Russian had to be dubbed in.
    • Helen Mirren as Tanya Kibruk is an interesting case. She is (of course) English and speaks no Russian, but she is ethnically Russian on her father's side (born Helen Lydia Mironoff) and can do a flawless Russian accent.
    • The remaining Soviets are all either Czech or actually Soviet, even if some of them (e.g. Elya Baskin) aren't actually Russian per se (Baskin, for instance, is a Latvian from Riga—which at the time was part of the USSR).
  • Shannon Elizabeth played Nadia, a Czech (not Russian, but similarly Slavic) in American Pie.
  • Star Trek (2009): Averted somewhat in how Anton Yelchin (Ensign Chekov) was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States as a baby. He would've done an accurate accent and was a native English speaker in Real Life, but he felt it more appropriate to exaggerate it to match Walter Koenig's original performance of the character.
  • Ralph Fiennes, Liv Tyler and everyone else in the 1999 film version of Onegin plays Russians, but it's a Not Even Bothering with the Accent bonanza (with the exception of Tyler... who puts on an English accent so she won't stick out amongst the rest of the cast).
  • In-Universe case: in the opening sequence to The Dark Knight Rises, Barsad, a sniper, poses as a Russian soldier when delivering Dr. Pavel and the three hooded "prisoners" to the CIA agent. He fools the CIA agent by saying the "prisoners" work for Bane, the "masked man", so that the agent and the army soldiers on the plane are unaware until it is too late that Bane is in fact one of the prisoners and will crash the plane....with no survivors.
    • Note that Barsad appears to speak with some kind of light lisp when talking to the CIA agent to disguise his voice. In all of his scenes in Gotham with dialogue, he's a Fake Brit because he speaks with a British accent even though his actor Josh Stewart is American.
  • In Rounders, John Malkovich plays Russian gangster Teddy KGB. His accent is bizarre.
  • In the 1956 American film adaptation of War and Peace, the Russian characters are played by actors of various nationalities: the British-Dutch Audrey Hepburn, the Americans Henry Fonda and Mel Ferrer, the Italian Vittorio Gassman, the Austrian Oskar Homolka and the Swedish Anita Ekberg.
  • Pacific Rim is stuffed to the gills with Fake Nationality, but Sasha and Alexis Kaidanovsky, the Russian Battle Couple piloting the superheavyweight Cherno Alpha, are portrayed by Canadians Heather Doerksen and Robert Maillet respectively.
  • In The Bourne Supremacy, Russian FSB agent Kirill is portrayed by New Zealand actor Karl Urban. Urban delivers all of his lines in Russian, in an accent that one Russian speaking reviewer described as 'slightly mangled'.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • In the original timeline, Colossus is portrayed by Canadian Daniel Cudmore.
    • X-Men: First Class features Englishman Jason Flemyng as Azazel (who's a demon in the comics, but turned into a Russian mutant in the film).
    • Deadpool (2016) depicts Colossus as a Husky Russkie instead of the non-specific nationality in the other movies... while played by a Serbian, Stefan Kapicic.
    • The New Mutants has American-born Anglo-Argentine Anya Taylor-Joy as Magik (Colossus' sister in the comics).
  • Brian Cox as a former Russian spy named Ivan Simanov in Red (2010).
  • Steven Seagal as the title character in Driven to Kill. Most Russians find his attempts at Russian mat (obscene patois) incredibly hilarious.
  • In Mortdecai, Romanov, the leader of the Russian criminals, is played by Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen. One of his henchmen is played by an actor born in Ukraine.
  • The film version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., much like its tv predecessor, has a Fake Russian, in this case American Armie Hammer (although he does have some Russian heritage).
  • St. Vincent (2014) has British Naomi Watts as a Russian prostitute.
  • Mail-Order Bride has Ivana Miličević (Bosnian-American) playing a Russian.
  • The Sum of All Fears: Irish actor Ciarán Hinds as the President of the Russian Federation.
  • Boa: Brit Mark Sheppard shows up as a Russian terrorist sent to the Antarctic prison.
  • Gold Through the Fire: Charles Hanson was American, but puts on a passable Russian accent and speaks a bit of Russian in the film playing Russian emigrant Pyotr.
  • Room in Rome: Natasha Yarovenko is actually Ukrainian, but played a Russian here.
  • Snatch. has Rade Šerbedžija, a Croatian actor, playing Boris the Blade, a.k.a. "Boris the sneaking fuckin' Russian". The character is from Uzbekistan however.
  • Nobody: Araya Mengesha is really Canadian, with Ethiopian and Eritrean heritage. Here his character Pavel was half Russian, half Ethiopian.
  • Stiletto: Canadian-American Stana Katic, who has Croatian Serb ancestry, plays Raina, a Russian.
  • Doctor in Trouble has Joan Sims playing a Russian Captain.
  • Austerlitz (1960) has the French Jean-Louis Richard as Tsar Alexander I.
  • Napoleon (2023) has the French Édouard Philipponnat as Tsar Alexander I.
  • Carry On Matron: The Deleted Role of Mrs. Putzova was played by the British Marianne Stone.

  • Parodied in Dave Barry's column "The Columnist's Caper", a spy-movie pastiche in which two Russian officers named Rasputin Smirnov and Joyce Brothers Karamazov Popov take turns frowning at each other while talking about how the Americans must be kept from interfering with their Evil Plan. When Smirnov asks, "Shouldn't we be speaking Russian?", Popov says that they should at least have accents. The rest of their lines have them doing every accent but a Russian one.
  • In-universe in Stephen King's Joyland, Rozzie Gold - a.k.a. Madame Fortuna, the amusement park's resident fortune teller - adopts a fake Eastern European accent during the summer season because it draws in more tourists. (She's actually from New York.)
  • In-universe in Flight of the Swan:. All dancers in the ballet troupe have Russian names (Katia, Maya, Egorova, Natasha, Nadya, and narrator Masha), but two of them are Englishwomen. The name change is to give the impression that theirs is a Russian troupe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24:
    • Julian Sands, a British actor, played Big Bad Vladimir Bierko. Mark Sheppard, also British, played Bierko's Dragon, and notably switched between British and Russian accents during his tenure on the show. However, since the nationality of those bad guys was Generic Central Asian it's rather pointless to discuss whether the names and accents were accurate to any particular real Central-Asian / Eastern-European country. Misha Collins, meanwhile, does a pretty good Russian accent as Alexis Drazen.
    • In Season 8, Russian Big Bad Mikhail Novakovich is portrayed by Glasgow-born actor Graham McTavish. Likewise, Sergei Behzaev in the same season was acted by Berliner Jürgen Prochnow.
    • Australian actor Nick Jameson played Russian President Yuri Suvarov in the fifth, sixth, and eigth seasons. Likewise, John Noble, also of Australian descent, played Anatoly Markov during season 6.
  • Alias:
    • Julian Sark is a borderline case as his exact nationality is never directly confirmed. He's played by American David Anders but the character speaks with an Irish-influenced British accent. The character is not British, however, he was merely educated in Britain and spent a lot of time in Galway. It's eventually revealed he's the son of a Russian diplomat and was sent to Britain at a young age to escape from his father's abusive behaviour.
    • Andrian Lazarey is a Russian diplomat and descendant of the Romanov family. He's Sark's father and is played by American Mark Bramhall, making him a straight example of this trope.
  • The Americans : Played straight by the protagonist couple (an American and a Welshman) and the handlers (Claudia and Gabriel), averted otherwise by most of the supporting Soviet roles. The creative team had an official rule in place that the roles were to be played by Russian actors who spoke the language fluently.
  • In an Angel episode, Summer Glau played the ghost of a Russian prima ballerina. The accent was fairly decent, as was the ballet—she is a trained dancer.
  • Arrow has most Russians are played by non-Russians:
    • Anatoliy is played by the Czech-Canadian actor David Nykl (known to Stargate Atlantis fans as Dr. Radek Zelenka).
    • Gregor is played by David Meunier (American).
    • Viktor is played by a Canadian actor (Mike Dopud).
    • Kovar is played by the Swedish Dolph Lundgren (AKA Ivan Drago).
    • Isabel Rochev is played by Summer Glau.
  • Averted in Babylon 5 where Claudia Christian uses her own (American) accent for the Russian character Susan Ivanova. The new president at the end of the fourth season was accused of it, but the actress was Polish and also using her own accent. Ivanova was particularly notable for the subtle (and realistic) hints of Russian syntax inserted in her lines - most notably, the line "This, to me, is not a good combination" - which say that, despite her accent, she is a native Russian speaker. (Although some of these might have simply been jokes, as many Russianesque word orderings are similar to those of Yiddish, and Ivanova is explicitly, if not observantly, Russian Jewish.)
  • The 2007 BBC1 adaptation of Ballet Shoes features at least two, possibly three. With one, Petrova Fossil (played by London-born Yasmin Paige) the accent is not an issue- the character was brought up in England and accordingly has an English accent. She does on occasions have a Yulia Tymoshenko-style hairdo (Ukrainian, but near enough). The funny thing is that Timoshenko (nee Grigian) isn't Ukrainian herself — she's Russian-Armenian, and speaks Ukrainian with a heavy Russian accent. Her hairdo is an attempt to distance from her roots and lure hardcore Ukrainian nationalists to support her.
  • Barry: Glenn Fleshler and Anthony Carrigan play Chechen mobsters…with Yugoslav names.
  • Black Books has an episode with a Russian piano teacher played by Scottish actor.
  • The Russian Keyser Söze Expy Berlin (Milos Kirchoff) on The Blacklist is portrayed by the Swedish Peter Stormare, who has a history of being Typecast as this kind of character.
  • Happens in-universe on Bones. In one episode, Booth and Brennan join a circus with a Knife-Throwing Act. The circus director tells them that they need a gimmick, and they decide on "Boris & Natasha and their Russian Knives of Death", complete with Booth/Boris in a humongous fur coat and a fake mustache.
  • On Chuck, Russian Arms Dealer Alexei Volkoff is played by former James Bond, Timothy Dalton. His big reveal had him switch to a Russian accent, but he slips back into an English accent most of the time anyway. It starts to make sense when we learn that Volkoff was actually an English scientist accidentally implanted with the "Volkoff" cover identity during a CIA experiment.
  • In the Columbo episode "The Most Dangerous Match", the Russian characters are played by Canadians Jack Kruschen and Lloyd Bochner. In a scene, Bochner is speaking "Russian" on the phone - he is actually uttering gibberish lines, not at all sounding like actual Russian dialog.
  • The Criminal Minds episode "Honor Among Thieves," involving Russian emigres and the Russian mob, combined actors from all over the place: two were Polish, one was Croatian, several were Americans of Russian descent, and at least one or two were from Russia.
  • Daredevil: Russian brothers Anatoly and Vladimir Ranskahov in season 1 are respectively played by the very much American Gideon Emery and Australian Nikolai Nikoleff.
  • Averted on Deadwood, where the Russian character Blazanov was played by Moscow native Pavel Lychnikoff.
  • In Degrassi, Russian-Canadian teen Zig Novak and his heavily-accented immigrant mother are played by Ricardo Hoyos and Shauna MacDonald respectively.
  • Doctor Who
    • English actress Clare Jenkins puts on a fake Russian accent to play crewmember Tanya Lernov, in "The Wheel in Space". She was just one of the many British actors putting on a fake accent to play a member of the multinational crew of the Wheel space station in that story. Jenkins would briefly reprise her role the following season in "The War Games".
    • In "The Waters of Mars", Russian crewmember Yuri is played by Bosnian actor Aleksandar Mikić.
  • In the first few episodes of Dollhouse, we are led to believe that the character Enver Gjokaj plays is that of Russian mob goon Lubov—of course, this is only an imprint and he is in fact the active named Victor. Worth noting here is that Gjokaj's accent was so good and his name so exotically Eastern-European (though he's actually Albanian) that a lot of viewers never thought to guess his character was anything but what he seemed at first.
    • It's also later established that "Victor" is actually American.
  • All of the Russians working in the Soviet Embassy in Foreign Affairs (1966) were played by Brits - Ronnie Barker, Joe Melia, and Sonia Graham.
  • On JAG, Harmon Rabb's half brother Sergei Zhukov is played by Canadian Jade Carter. Evidently he won the part over several Russian actors.
  • The TV adaptations of John le Carré's "Karla trilogy" feature, among others, Curd Jürgens (German) as an Estonian exile and Michael Lonsdale (French) as a Russian bureaucrat. Also Patrick Stewart is Smiley's counterpart and foe Karla, although he more or less dodges this trope by having no spoken dialogue.
  • Several episodes of Law & Order: SVU feature bad Russian accents, most glaringly "Russian Love Poem" in the first season.
  • The Suite Life on Deck episode "Das Boots" had Sasha Matryoshka, a Russian junior chess champion played by Cody Kennedy.
  • Lost: British actress Zuleikha Robinson as Ilana Verdansky.
  • The MacGyver episode "Gold Rush" had several supposedly Russian characters. MacGyver full stop, really.
  • Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E., played by the Scottish David McCallum (who would go on to play Ducky in NCIS).
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mike Nelson as a Soviet cosmonaut in a Joel-era episode.
  • On Nikita, one of the main characters is Alexandra Udinov a.k.a. Alex, daughter of a Russian oligarch, played by the half-Portuguese Lyndsy Fonseca. They do say that she had lost her accent over time, wanting to conceal her identity. During flashbacks with an accent, the role is played by Canadian Eliana Jones.
  • On Oz, prisoner Nikolai Stanislofsky is played by American actor Philip Casnoff. His Russian accent when speaking English isn't terrible, but his attempts to insert (phonetically memorized) "Russian" into his speech are quite indecipherable.
  • In the revival of Red Dwarf, there was a Fanservice-y science officer called Katerina Bartikovsky, who spoke with some kind of accent.
  • Reilly, Ace of Spies features New Zealander Sam Neill playing a Ukrainian Jew pretending to be Irish. With Translation Convention being used throughout, a load of English actors play Russians using British accents.
  • Russian Idol.
  • Lampshaded slightly on Sex and the City with Carrie's inability to pronounce Aleksandr's name. He finally says "Call me 'Bob.'"
  • On Six Feet Under, Ruth Fisher's Russian employer/paramour Nikolai is played by Ed O'Ross, a Pittsburgh-born and raised American of Czechoslovakian descent (his real last name is Orosz).
  • Stargate-verse:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • Dr. Svetlana Markov [sic]; (corrected to Markova in the Russian dub) in the episode "Watergate", portrayed by Marina Sirtis. On the other hand, the two Russian sailors from "Small Victories" look rather authentic, being portrayed by Russians. The one with glasses speaks Ukrainian, almost without an accent. The other one alternates between Russian and Ukrainian. One of them asks what is that noise they hear from the torpedo tube and the other answers "maybe those are the bugs from the previous episode?".
      • Garry Chalk, Canadian actor of English birth, plays Russian General Chekhov.
      • Captain Daria Voronkova (likely as a nod to the mistake with Svetlana Markov's name, Daniel initially refers to her as "Voronkov") is played by the London-born Françoise Robertson. Canadian Mike Dopud played a Russian colonel in the same episode and would go on to play a number of one-off Human Alien characters in the show before becoming the regular character Varro in Stargate Universe.
    • Averted by Radek Zelenka in Stargate Atlantis. He was originally supposed to be Russian, but the producers changed the character's nationality to fit the actor's Czech origins. While actor David Nykl can speak Czech fluently, having been born in the country to Czech parents, he left at a very young age with his family (after the Prague Spring of 1968) and his actual accent is Canadian. That and it appears he's actually been a fake Russian in the past. Nevertheless, Nykl's Czech accent is pretty much spot-on.
  • Star Trek:
    • Ensign Chekov from The Original Series: portrayed by an American, albeit one of Lithuanian descentnote . His surname, btw, means 'receipt-son'. Apparently a misspelling of Chekhov, which means 'of Czech descent'.
    • In the Deep Space Nine episode "Our Man Bashir", Nana Visitor (who plays Kira Nerys) is clearly putting on the most ridiculous faux-Russian accent and having loads of fun while at it. Explained by the fact that the holodeck program is clearly meant to be a James Bond-replica — fake Russian accents included (Kira was involved in a shuttle/transporter/holodeck malfunction, which is why she is so in-character).
  • In the second season of True Detective, Frank Semyon's business partner, Osip Agranov, is played by Irish actor Timothy Murphy.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • American Stefan Gierasch as the Soviet ambassador to the United Nations in "A Small Talent for War".
    • The entire cast of "Red Snow".
  • Sergei Malatov in The Wire, a Ukrainian played by American Chris Ashworth. His last name isn't even a Ukrainian name. This is likely intentional, as Malatov is part of an international criminal empire led by "the Greek", and most of the Greek's people are implied to be using undercover names and nationalities. At one point the Greek's Number Two casually shows another character a whole collection of passports from different countries, all with different names. This tendency towards fake names and nationalities even includes the Greek, who at one point is amused by the fact that the police have no information on him besides his nickname The Greek... and he isn't actually Greek.
  • On The X-Files, we have Alex Krycek; he speaks fluent Russian (although his name sounds more Czech or Slovak), but claims his parents were 'Cold War immigrants') played by Canadian actor Nicholas Lea.

  • Tom Lehrer's "Lobachevsky" is sung in a fake Russian accent. One part of the song actually includes lines that are instructed to be sung in Russian (if the audience doesn't speak Russian) or in gobbledygook (if they do).
  • The Leningrad Cowboys are actually Finns.


    Professional Wrestling 
  • There have been so many fake Foreign Wrestling Heel Evil Russians in Professional Wrestling's storied history that it's simply easier to list the real Russians involved in the sport on a global level.
    • The National Wrestling Alliance had promoted numerous Russian heels throughout its entire existence. The first time real Russians wrestled in an NWA ring did not occur until the 1990 edition of Starrcade when Victor Zangiev and Salman Hashimikov, two Soviet wrestlers from New Japan Pro-Wrestling (who in turn negotiated directly with the Soviet government to acquire them) took part in a tag team tournament. In a sign of the times, the two weren't presented as the stereotypical Foreign Wrestling Heel, but a show of the tournament being a legitimately international affair.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Paranoia, members of the "Commies" secret society tend to speak in fake Russian accents. One rulebook recommends using Pavel Chekov's accent as a guide.
  • In Werewolf: The Apocalypse core rulebook, there is a picture of a werewolf from the Silver Fang ("Серебряные клыки" in Russian) tribe over the Cathedral of Vasily Blazhenny, titled: "СЕРЕБРЯНЫЦ КЛЫКЦ". This has become a meme among Russian WtA fans. Perhaps compounded by the fact that the werewolf in question appears to be the signature character King Albrecht; while the Silver Fangs as a tribe are associated with Russia, Albrecht himself is thoroughly American (and, to top things off, once called a Russian Silver Fang he didn't like a "commie bastard").

  • Not only does Chess have several Russian characters likely to be played by non-Russians, its creators made the mistake of naming one of them "Svetlana Sergievskynote ".

    The original Anatoly on the concept album (and the West End production) was Swedish performer Tommy Korberg. His accent is tough to place, sounding somewhere between English (to match the rest of the cast) and his native Swedish. Bjorn Skifs, the original Arbiter, is also Swedish, but his character's nationality is made intentionally ambiguous—pretty much the only thing we can say for certain is that he isn't American or Russian.

    Video Games 
  • The Heavy from Team Fortress 2, who has a Slavic accent, is played by the same voice actor who does the Demoman.
  • British actor Gary Oldman put on a fairly convincing Russian accent as the badass Sgt. Reznov in Call of Duty: World At War.
    • Averted, humorously enough in a scene from the first Modern Warfare game where you are attempting to ambush and capture Victor Zakhaev. Your character actually sits up in the guard tower with Griggs while Captain Price and Gaz go about Dressing as the Enemy Griggs says that Soap looks nothing like a Russian.
  • Juhani. The same voice actor went on to portray Jack in Mass Effect 2, who does not speak with anything remotely resembling a Russian accent.
  • Call of Duty and Command & Conquer: Red Alert both has enough of linguistic and cultural pratfalls in "red balalaika" style that they are attractive for Russian-speaking players just because of the inherent hilarity (as great Easter Egg feasts). Not counting such obvious over-the-top things as paratrooper bears. The more "realistic" and "live" images are, the crazier they look. Starting from its trailer. On the other hand, as long as Ivana Milicevic in that... "uniform" is there, who cares about what "regalia" she put on?
    • The crowning bit has to be Tim Curry as the Soviet Premier - who cares about how good his accent is(n't) when he gets going? Strangely, though, unlike most Fake Russians he seems to know that "do svidania" roughly means "until next time" not "goodbye forever".
  • Bishop Ladja in the Nintendo DS remake of Dragon Quest V. It helps boost his image as a cold-hearted villain.
  • Played with in Grand Theft Auto IV. Some of the voice actors for The Mafiya aren't Russian, but Dimitri Rascalov's voice actor is Russian-Israeli.
  • Downplayed by Zarya in Overwatch. Her voice actress is Ukrainian.
  • Jim Cummings does a good job of this in Baldur's Gate as Minsc, who is from the Forgotten Realms land of Rashemen (geographically located in the same area as Belarus/Western Russia).
    • Minsc has the same name (phonetically) the capital city of Belarus; one would hope that he would have something of a Slavic bent.
    • Dynaheir (who is also from Rashemen) and Edwin (from neighboring Thay) are also varying degrees of fake Russian, although Dynaheir edges close to What the Hell Is That Accent?, sounding like some sort of mixture of russian and french. Jaheira (from Tethyr, located on the opposite end of Faerun) also had a fake Russian accent in the first Baldur's Gate for some inexplicable reason, but it's significantly toned down for the second game.
    • Ironically, Imoen became one in Polish dub of the game, where she inexplicably posses Russian accent. Luckily, she seems to drop it entirely from the second game onwards.
  • The voice emotes for Draenei PCs (and most NPCs) in World of Warcraft have Hollywood-Romanian accents.
  • The Metal Gear series has many, most notably Revolver Ocelot (voiced by three Americans, but his mother is American). In Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, however, which entirely takes place in Russia, nobody has an accent at all, as part of the Translation Convention. Well, except Granin.
  • Mikhail the Russian hitman in the Co-Op Mode of Far Cry 3 is voiced by an English actor.
  • Surprisingly averted in the English version of the video game Metro 2033, whose voice actors happen to actually be Russian native speakers (in both the original and the dub), with the exception of Yuri Lowenthal and Steve Blum, who sound quite convincing. For some reason, people complained about the allegedly bad fake Russian accents being cartoonishly goofy and over the top.
    • The voice work improved in the sequel, Metro Last Light. Despite the continued use of Russian actors in the dub, complaints still rolled in about the obviously fake and exaggerated accents.
  • The Russian voice option in Saints Row: The Third is done by American voice actress Tara Platt. The same goes for Genius Bruiser Oleg Kirrlov, voiced by American Mark Allan Stewart.
  • Played with in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney with Olga Orly. Orly is only pretending to be a Russian waitress (at a Russian restaurant known as the Borscht Bowl Club) in order to cover up her real job as a con artist.
  • Earl Boen seems to do this quite often, voicing Sergei Gurlukovitch in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and Colossus in the first X-Men Legends.
  • Street Fighter IV has Peter Beckman as Zangief. Starting with Street Fighter X Tekken, he adds the slightly broken grammar to it.
  • Syphon Filter: The Omega Strain and Dark Mirror have Jennifer Hale, a Canadian, as Mara Aramov, and she doesn't handle the accent too well.
  • Old Psygnosis Humongous Mecha simulator Krazy Ivan starts in the former Soviet Union and has a speaking cast of five. The Military Maverick pilot and his two Mission Control officers all sound like they took speech lessons from Natasha and Boris. As the introduction video shows, it's crushingly obvious that none of them are native Russians in the slightest.
  • Shadow: War of Succession has the allegedly Russian agent Sasha "No von vill stand in my vay!" Romanoff.
  • PlanetSide 2 has the "Comrade" voicepack for Terran Republic soldiers, with a hilariously fake Russian accent with gratuitously rolled Rs; "I need a r-llll-ide!". The female version is slightly better, though still fake.
  • Maria Tachibana in Sakura Wars is half-Russian, though the series plays up her Russian-ness so much that if not for her name you'd never know it's only half (though it's justified by her having a Russian upbringing). Her US voice actress in the anime decided to give her a Russian accent, which would have been a nice touch if she could imitate one worth a darn.
  • Thunder from Dirty Bomb may be an In-Universe example according to Sparks, who thinks that Thunder just created a whole new identity from nothing following the dirty bomb attacks on London and is just pretending to be Russian.
  • Oh...Sir!! The Insult Simulator has Grisha, who is obsessed with Russia despite being born and raised in London. His weak spot is insults involving his origins and (supposed) homeland, like "[Your country] [is not interesting] [and] [your beloved auntie] [was born in] [a cheese shop]!"
  • Silent Storm has Russian (and one stereotypical Ukrainian) characters voiced by non-Russians in the English version of the game. Then again, this applies to most nationalities in the game

  • A Miracle of Science, though it's not clear whether this failure happened in or out of the 'Verse.
  • Pitr from User Friendly - though he's a Life Embellished version of an Estonian co-worker, the author thought it would be funnier to give him a "blatantly fake Slavic accent." (Estonians, for the record, aren't Slavic, though he didn't actually say they were.)
    • Pitr's fake-Russian dialect is actually justified - he spoke standard English at the beginning of the strip. He later adopted the accent to reinforce his "Evil Genius" persona.
    • Pitr actually does have Russian ancestry, as indicated by his bio. At first, he pretended his accent was an attempt to be more connected to his family because he didn't want them to know he was trying to be evil.

    Web Original 
  • "The Russian" in The League of S.T.E.A.M..
  • FPSRussia, weapons demonstrator extraordinaire. In one of his behind-the-scenes videos (in which he breaks character and doesn't use a fake Russian accent), he points out that his catchphrase that he's a "Professional Russian" refers to the fake that he's professionally pretending to be Russian.
  • SuperMarioLogan - Craig the Devil (voiced by American actor Chris Netherton, also known as Pablo "Pooby" Sánchez).

    Western Animation 
  • Linka, the Ukrainian Wind Ring from the Planeteers in Captain Planet and the Planeteers was voiced by Kath Soucie, an American voice actress. She can be identified by misplaced inflections and occasionally misusing a phrase.
  • Exile, the Russian husky from Road Rovers, is voiced by a Black actor of Jamaican descent, Kevin Michael Richardson.
  • Dexter (voiced by Christine Cavanaugh) from Dexter's Laboratory, despite, in fact, being American himself, speaks with an affectionate Russian accent, since all well-known scientists have some kind of European accent. Series creator, Genndy Tartakovsky, was born in the Soviet Union himself, and has stated that Dexter's accent was based on his own from his childhood.
  • Krog and Surgeo from Mixels both speak with Russian accents, but their respective voice actors, Dave Fennoy and Jess Harnell, are both American.
  • Jetstorm and Jetfire from Transformers: Animated are voiced with Russian accents.
  • Ravage from Beast Wars has a similar accent.
  • Parodied in Total Drama Action in the spy episode when Chris claims a butchered accent— the stumped cast guesses Jamaican, Japanese, Swedish, French and Italian in order— is Russian.
  • A generation of kids learned how to speak with a bad Russian accent from Boris and Natasha spies from the fictional country of Pottsylvania on Rocky and Bullwinkle.
  • Dr. Andre Chezko from Speed Racer: The Next Generation. In-universe. For he is actually none other than Wilson "Sparky" Sparkolemew.
  • Thorn from Kitty Is Not a Cat is voiced by New Zealand-born actress, Cal Wilson.
  • In-Universe, Olaf the emperor penguin from Kaeloo. The Season 2 finale reveals that he is actually not from Russia, but from Planet Smileyland's equivalent of Antarctica.
  • In the Nelvana cartoon adaptation of Brian Jacques' Redwall, the shrews Log-a-Log and Guosim speak with Russian accents. They are voiced by American-Canadian actor Bruce Dow and Canadian actress Marion Day respectively. It's actually bizarre and inexplicable for these characters to have such accents; the original novel gives no indication of shrew culture having been inspired by Russia in any way.
  • Thomas/Nikolai from Regular Show being voiced by Roger Craig Smith.
  • Buff Frog from Star vs. the Forces of Evil who speaks in a thick Russian accent, is voiced by an American actor Fred Tataiscore.
  • Subverted in one episode of Family Guy, in which the character Meg speaks fluent Russian, due to being voiced by Ukrainian-born actress Mila Kunis.

    Real Life 
There are quite a few real-life examples of people from other parts of the former Soviet Union being assumed to be Russian; while this was more prevalent when the Soviet Union actually existed, it still crops up from time to time.
  • Many chess champions were described as "Russian," due to their countries being a part of the Soviet Union, even though they were:
    • Latvian: Mikhail Tal (Mihails Tals)
    • Armenian: Tigran Petrosian
    • Azeri: Garry Kasparov (though ethnic Armenian through his mother and Russian Jewish through his father; he did retain Russian citizenship after the fall of the USSR, though, and presently is active in the Russian opposition to Vladimir Putin as chairman of the Human Rights Foundation)
  • Tofiq Bahramov, the "Russian" linesman from the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final, was actually Azerbaijani, although at the time it was assumed that he was Russian because he was a Soviet citizen.
  • Modified example: After the breakup of the Soviet Union other athletes were heard to bemoan the amount of "Russians" now in the games. "It used to be you had to beat the Russian, now you have to beat the Russian, the Kazakh, the Uzbek, the Georgian...THEY'RE ALL RUSSIAN!"
  • It should be said that Azerbaijan becomes increasingly more of an aversion as time goes on, because despite being part of the Soviet Union, they're actually Fake Turks if anything; the Azeri language only differs from the Turkish dialects spoken in eastern Turkey (e.g. Kars, Erzurum) by its vocabulary, which has extensive Russian (instead of French) influence and none of the Atatürk-imposed "purifications" for Arabic and Persian loanwords.
  • Actors from central and Eastern European countries working in the USA or the United Kingdom are usually cast as Russians.
    • Croatian/Serbian Rade Šerbedžija has made a Hollywood career out of playing Russians (The Saint (1997), Mission: Impossible II, Space Cowboys, Snatch., 24). He chose that career path when he saw how badly an American actor played a Russian role which Šerbedžija had declined out of a sense of inadequacy. Technically, he plays an Uzbek in Snatch, but everyone still refers to him as "that sneaky fucking Russian".
    • As does the Czech Karel Roden.
    • On British TV, Serbian actors Branka Katić and Dragan Mićanović played Russians on the TV series Auf Wiedersehn, Pet. Katić has also played Russians on Trial and Retribution and H G Wells: War With The World.
  • This applies to various leaders of Russia itself: among others, Catherine the Great was originally a German princess and Josef Stalin was a Georgian.
    • The entire Romanov Dynasty, by the time of Russian Revolution, was probably far more German than Russian by ancestry, while the preceding Rurikid Dynasty started as Scandinavian.
    • It can become complicated as many nations, now independent, were under the rule of the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. If "Russian" identifies a subject of the Russian Empire, then a lot of people who were not "ethnic" Russians were still Russians. Russians themselves don't help with this much since their idea of what an "ethnic" Russian is quite flexible.

Alternative Title(s): Lzherusskie