I've never met a male Vera. Maybe it's something that had been adopted for boys in the last 20 years since I've left, but yeah, Sasha was always unisex.
That Russians do not have middle names, despite having a formal 3-part name, is kindda weird to a Westerner. I had to explain to someone just recently that when their character says to use his patronymic as his private name, he says, "Hey, please call me by my father's name instead of my name."
I will have to test these chapters and explanations on my kid to see if steam starts rising from her ears, heh. Weird Russian Lore, and we are not even into the fantasy/sci-fi portion of the story yet! Lol.