Bald–hairy

bald hairy by stephen wildish

Bald–hairy is a common Russian joke that there is, apparently, a strict rule applying to the country’s politics for the latest two centuries: a bald (or balding) state leader is succeeded by a non-bald (‘hairy’) one, and vice versa. Whilst this pattern is most likely a coincidence, it has held true since 1825 (with the exception of Georgy Malenkov, who was Premier of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1955), starting from Nicholas I. However, some videos of Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference showed that he was balding.

Nicholas I’s son Alexander II formed the first ‘bald–hairy’ pair of the sequence with his father. The current pair of Russian rulers are the balding Vladimir Putin and the hairy Dmitry Medvedev. Putin was the president from 2000 until 2008, Medvedev held the post until 2012, and Putin became president again in 2012.

Two other patterns in Russian political ascension have been noted. From 1682 to 1801 there was a strict ‘man–woman’ sequence on the Russian throne: Peter I the Great, Catherine I, Peter II, Anna, Ivan VI, Elizabeth, Peter III, Catherine II the Great, Paul. Emperor Paul changed the rules of succession to the throne so that only men could rule the country, and the ‘man–woman’ interchange was terminated. If Tsarina Sophia (a sister of Peter I and Ivan V and a powerful regent during their minority), is counted as a de facto ruler, then the sequence could be traced from 1676, when another of Sophia’s brothers, Feodor III, succeeded to the throne.

A different sequence (called ‘killed–died’) is related to the character of death of the Russian monarchs and can be traced from 1730 to 1825 and separately from 1825 to 1917: Anna died, Ivan VI was killed, Elizabeth died, Peter III was killed, Catherine the Great died, Paul was killed, Alexander I died. After an interruption of the sequence, when Nicholas I suppressed the revolt of Decembrists who threatened to kill him and his family, the sequence resumed when Nicholas I’s son Alexander II was killed, Alexander III died, and Nicholas II was killed. However, Nicholas’s designated successor Michael II was never confirmed as Emperor, and soon after the Russian Revolution of 1917, was murdered by some revolutionary men.

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