Russian squat (slav squat, korty) refers to the squatting position often done by thugs while loitering/waiting outside. The position can be described as squatting with slightly relaxed arms hanging on the knees and almost touching the ground.
It originates in the prison population, also known as gopniki. Squatting gopnik typically holds in his hands: a cigarette, plastic 1.5 or 2 liters beer bottle with cheap beer in it (“baklashka”, “tit” or “dummy”). Other attributes are: a rosary, chain, key chain (in this case, gopnik makes rotational movements, as if concentrating on the process of rotation), sunflower seeds, clenched or packaged in a paper bag.
A puddle of spit is forming quite rapidly around gopnik while he is “squatting”. Occasionally, gopnik spits sunflower seeds into an empty beer bottle, just to entertain himself.
“Squatting” position, and many other attributes, come from the customs during the Tsar times of pre-revolutionary Russia when convicts (gopniki) were escorted by guards to their destinations. In order to prevent unwanted actions by prisoners, guards traditionally ordered prisoners to squat down. Squatting allowed guards to predict prisoners intentions easier. Additionally, this same posture allowed prisoners to relax and rest while avoiding getting dirty.
In a typical overcrowded prison cell, it’s difficult to find a seat, so there is nothing left, but to squat down. Quickly, this position became so firmly embedded in the inmates’ habits that many find it difficult to get rid of. Former inmates often recognize each other from a distance because of squatting habit.
– via gopniki.net