The informant is my father. He is a 55-year old white male and spent the first 26 years of his life in the Soviet Union (Moscow). He, like many others in the USSR, was raised as an atheist, and his whole family (including himself) has a background in the sciences; therefore he is a very logical, analytical individual.
The following conversation took place as a part of a larger conversation about Russian folklore during a road trip from Southern Utah to Las Vegas.
Transcribed and translated from an interview held in Russian
“In ancient folklore, dating back to the pre-Christian, pagan times, there were a lot of beliefs about forest creatures. For example, Leshiy and Rusalka. Rusalka is essentially just a mermaid. Leshiy is this type of creature that lives in the forest. He was often depicted in paintings resembling a dry tree. So like this essense of the forest, who acts as its caretaker/ guardian who’s invisible.There is also this creature called Kikimora. I think she lived in swamps. Like a swamp mermaid, if I am not mistaken. Leshiy and Kikimora are two very popular creatures in pagan folklore. These creatures were located in the countryside, rather than cities, which is why fairy tales about them usually stemmed from small villages”.
A lot of Russian folklore got lost, hidden, or pushed to the outskirts during the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, folklore from pre-Soviet times, especially surrounding less populated areas like forests, swamps, lakes and other natural areas remained prominent particularly in smaller villages. It was much harder for the government to forcibly ban or eliminate folklore in such areas, seeing as the folklore had been around for so long and there was no way to really control it, especially in more rural areas.