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While фашист and бандит should translate in English respectively to 'fascist' and 'bandit', I have the feeling that their real meaning is much stronger in Russian than in English, indeed "you're a fascist" and "you're a bandit" sounds relatively low in English and these expressions are rather soft or even can be funny in English ( and in other languages ) while they are - I feel - much stronger in Russian ( or is that only Ukrainian ?). Is that impression correct or is that an illusion?

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  • to most russians(and I mean almost everyone), фашист is a synonym of a "german nazi invader". I don't think I ever had a need to dig up the real meaning of this word prior to your question even though I knew it does not directly translates to the above.
    – Zeks
    Oct 26 '14 at 1:00
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Фашист in colloquial Russian means primarily a German Nazi (or, through metonimy, any supporter of Nazi or Nazi-like ideology).

The term was widely used by the Soviet media in 1930's, and the German troops which invaded Soviet Union were labeled "German Fascist invaders" (немецко-фашистские захватчики) right away.

In stricter sense of word, it would mean quite the same as English "fascist".

Because of the cultural connotations, the term фашист would be deemed a very strong expression by majority of Russian speakers born or raised in the former USSR. I personally can't imagine a situation where it could be used jokingly.

Бандит means a "gangster", a member of an armed organized crime group. It's a legal term as well. Contrary to its English counterpart ("bandit"), it does not have positive connotations.

More correct translation of "bandit" to Russian would be разбойник. For instance, "good" guys like Robin Hood and Hong Gildong are usually called разбойник, but Al Capone or Tony Soprano would rather be бандит.

It's not quite a strong term, though. For instance, a mother could say он такой бандит! about her child, meaning the child does not behave.

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  • I called one of my laika dogs 'бандит' and most people told me it was totally inappropriate for a dog ( anyway I saw some dogs have been named like that in the past as well, in USSR times )
    – user4256
    Oct 10 '14 at 13:34
  • 2
    @Karl: I personally see nothing wrong about naming a dog that.
    – Quassnoi
    Oct 10 '14 at 14:27
  • A Ukrainian chiming in. Quassnoi indeed gave accurate enough explanation, "фашист" is a very serious accusation here as well. No local differences about "бандит" either, this is not a strong expression at all.
    – Eugene A
    Oct 11 '14 at 13:34
  • Revised comment: In 1930s Soviet propaganda branded various anticommunist movements (including fascists proper) as fascists, not specifically German Nazis. Since June 1941, certainly, фашист became to refer to the Third Reich and other Axis powers, and this meaning stuck to the word in popular usage. Oct 18 '14 at 18:27
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    >>>where it could be used jokingly Well, I can. "Получи, фашист, гранату!" can well be used in a friendly banter especially when in conjunction with videogames.
    – Zeks
    Oct 26 '14 at 0:55
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Well in Russian the term "fascist" is about as strong as the term "sadist". It in fact would mean "ethno-sadist" or "racial sadist" that is a person who enjoys to inflict suffering to other people for pleasure.

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