back to article Grim-faced 'naut Malenchenko prepares to return home

Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko is preparing to depart the International Space Station (ISS), and it remains to be seen if the famously grim-faced Russian cracks a smile when he finally touches down on terra firma. Malenchenko and fellow Expedition 47 'nauts Tim Kopra and Tim Peake are due to board the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft on …

  1. jzl

    Russian

    That's just how Russians are. It's not that they're grim faced, it's a cultural thing that means they tend not to smile much in public.

    http://russia-insider.com/en/why-dont-russians-smile/ri6935

    1. Michael Hoffmann

      Re: Russian

      The comments are more educational than the article. I say that without judgment on who's right. It's remarkably civil and offers insight about attitudes amongs the self-identified slavs on there.

    2. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Russian

      Was about to post the same. Have an upvote.

    3. Random Handle

      Re: Russian

      >That's just how Russians are. It's not that they're grim faced, it's a cultural thing that means they tend not to smile much in public.

      It's a formal portrait photo too which adds another dimension - I've got my (British) family photos going back to the 1880s - people didn't start smiling for portraits until the late 1970s - seriously grim until then - even weddings, school photos etc

    4. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Russian

      it's a cultural thing that means they tend not to smile much in public.

      And they do a nice line in lip-curled, non-smiling "нет".

      So that begs the question, why was he smiling in that last photo? Since he looks a bit like me, and I don't often crack a smile either, I'm guessing he'd just let rip with a thermobaric SBD. Always brings a smile to my face to do that, watch colleagues faces go green, see them stagger and retch, whilst I act outraged and deny any accountability.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Mushroom

        Re: Russian

        @Ledswinger

        Oh, yes... Nearly crashed the car laughing so much on one occasion while my mates were hanging out the windows yelling "You dirty bastard!!"...

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Russian

      And here, I was believing that he embodied the mythical steely-eyed, serious rocket man of legend.

  2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    But then Yuri Gagarin's smile is famous, so it is possible for a Russian cosmonaut to smile

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Yuri Gagarin's smile

      Airbrush photo retouching. Like the flag shot.

      1. phuzz Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Yuri Gagarin's smile

        Yuri Alekseyevich smiles in pretty much every photo or bit of footage of him, so no, not an airbrush job.

        Here's some footage of him smiling on the BBC for example.

    2. jzl

      Indeed, and look at how much good he did for East / West relations.

      I do wonder if Russia would get on better with the rest of the world if they just learned to smile a bit.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "I do wonder if Russia would get on better with the rest of the world if they just learned to smile a bit."

        ...or maybe if the relevant parts of the world learned to accept that other peoples in other parts of the world have different social nuances and body language, we'd all get on better with each other. I've heard many people over the years, but USAians in particular, almost outright refuse to bow to a Japanese because in western culture it mean submission whereas in Japanese culture it's basically the same as a handshake (admittedly with overtones of status, but hey a handshake can do that too!)

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          The "relevant parts of the world" bit still has me puzzled, but otherwise I'm with you, so have an upvote.

    3. x 7 Silver badge

      but Yuri Gagarin was a womanising piss-head, no wonder he was always smiling. However if you're an average Russian, subject to Russian dentistry, then you wouldn't do much smiling. Especially as their space boys are kept away from the vodka (partly in due to Gagarin's frolics).

      It's commonly believed that Gagarin's wenching frolics and imbibing are what forced the Soviets to crash the aircraft he was flying - an easy way to get rid of an embarrassment and create a hero. With the Russians prepared to do that to their "first and greatest" then if I was a cosmonaut I wouldn't be doing much smiling either.

      And don't forget that the rumours of the "lost cosmonauts" have never actually been disproved. With that knowledge I think I'd grit my teeth and clench my buttocks quite a lot....

    4. Ledswinger Silver badge

      so it is possible for a Russian cosmonaut to smile

      Probably only by using banned substances.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "you need to smile more!"

    I completely understand why Russians distrust the usual smarmy fake smile.

    I don't smile much either, I'm usually busy fixing something someone else has totally wrecked, so I usually have nothing to smile about.

    So the local smarmy salesdroid started doing the obnoxious "you need to smile more!" bit.

    I started giving him the "I'm ready to brush my teeth" smile every time I saw him, with the molars together and the cheeks back in a rictus and the eyes staring straight at him in a hateful glare. The sort of smile you see just before the chimp rips your face off.

    He started avoiding me like the plague. Problem solved! Smiling more does help!

    Apparently he was also bothering all the female staff with "smile! you're so pretty when you smile!" crap.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: "you need to smile more!"

      Choices are good. Perhaps your female peers might have offered one between a "young, perky grin" and a "classic smile."

    2. jzl

      Re: "you need to smile more!"

      "I'm usually busy fixing something someone else has totally wrecked, so I usually have nothing to smile about."

      I've found an area of the country in which to work where the job market is robust and I can pick interesting work, so even at work I find plenty to smile about. Happiness is, as is so often said, a choice.

  4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    It's perfectly allright to smile inwardly. Or use something like the Mona Lisa version.

    As to Yuri Malenchenko - my pet theory is that he is related to Andrei "Grim Grom" Gromyko.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe.......

    He's sex starved being out there so long plus lonely hours training (without booze) that he has lost all touch with normal human on earth living / socialising behaviour?

    After all, he has to conform to the old rigid attitudes, lest his pension be curtailed or sent to Siberian gulag for being too friendly with the Yanks and Brits (given the current political climate).

  6. bigphil9009

    I'm pretty sure that on the Horizon documentary broadcast just before MTP's launch there was a moment when Yuri said something like "My name is Yuri Malenchenko and I am Russian cosmonaut, that's all there is to say" and then gave a brilliant grin as if to acknowledge his own taciturnity, although I could have dreamt that last bit...

  7. x 7 Silver badge

    he must have had a sense of humour to get away with this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3138941.stm

    first person to get married while in space, and to an American as well. His employers must have been really not amused

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