47 Soviet Times 2

Soviet Times 2

Posted on October 12, 2006 by team

This is another post on Soviet thematics. You can see a previous for example here.

Now, the collection of photos from the 80s, the period of time when the Soviet Union was near to collapse. The famous “Perestroika” or “Rebuilding” started in 1986 or so.

It has been said that it’s always darkest before the dawn, see yourself if this is true for these photos.

These photos are from a collection that is targeted on the pre-Democratic period of Soviet Union, taken from different public sources like magazines, newspapers and internet, from both sides – from Soviet and Western.


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A soldier and a telephone booth.

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Some Soviet music band…

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Red Square, in the middle of Moscow near the Kremlin, and a Military parade is taking place on it.

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This is a shroe of Black Sea in the summer. Soviet people could not visit other countries on their vacations so they all had come each year to the Black Sea.

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“Glory to a Working Class” is written on those three houses

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The Communist party assembly.

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Soviet village life.

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Some military general.

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Fixing LADA 2101

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In Soviet shops there were no variety of things. In every shop only 2-3 things were sold – for example only 2 or 3 types of the Soviet women handbag was sold in every shop across all the country! No Gucci or Armani or any non-luxury Chineese stuff – only 2 or 3 types of any merchandise, produced on Soviet factories. So almost all the people had the same things, the same cloths, same furniture. There was no variety at all!

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Also all the Western books were censored.

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Russian prisons said to be the most awful place on Earth.

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This is typical countryside interrior in Russia, even nowadays.

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Again military parade, now in St. Petersburg.

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If the person was in prison he got some tatoos. Usually only people who were in prison got a tatoo, and every tatoo had some special meaning, so if he went to prison or to police the experts could easily identify types of crimes he commited and years in prison he spent just looking on one’s tatoos.

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The subway stations in Russian cities were like palaces. These pillars had a crystal windows and light inside so they were magically glowing.

There are almost no people on the station – that’s because people were not allowed to wander during the daytime, everybody had to work, if somebody was wandering he could be arrested.

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Here you can see what I wrote above. All the shops in Russia were limited to 2-3 types of merchandise, all over the country, in every city or a small village same things were sold, produced on a few Russian state owned plants.

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There was a cult of bread in Russia. Every Russian schoolboy knew that this is a special machine to harvest grain, and all the students were taught not to waste even small piece of bread.

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Army in Russia is compulsory, and many people say that army often is as bad as prison. People are often tortured there.

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The USA was a real threat and menace to Soviet Union, so every few weeks there were training alarms when people had to show their ability to hide fast and to use things like these gas masks.

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Another military parade, they were very popular in Soviet Russia.

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And again a Parade.

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In late 80s skateboards were allowed for Russian kids. Only 2 types of skateboards were produced, so every kid who had a skateboard had one of those two types.

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This shot is again from Russian prison.

Many people think that they are happy they live after the Soviet Union collapse, but some older ones are nostalgic and dream about old Soviet Times.

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47 Responses to “Soviet Times 2”

  1. yevgeny_pi says:

    Some fotos are realy greate! I’m not old, but when I see these fotos… nostalgia

  2. Debora says:

    Thank you for these! Your blog is great.

  3. Marius says:

    This is my childhood…

  4. ilyich says:

    I imagine the soviet band pictured had their horns freeze to their lips playing outside in winter.

  5. Duane says:

    These photos are fascinating. I view it from the United States where I was taught to fear the Soviet Union and everyone had to say negative things about communism. The pictures show a simple and hard life, but I often wonder if my country made it harder. I would love to read (in English, my Russian is very weak) stories from people who lived in the Soviet Union.

  6. Marius says:

    I’m the gothic-metal musiciant, so if I lived at soviet times, I were wanted. Sometimes it is not easy to understand for me.

  7. gaudy says:

    Some pictures are amazing. I have just spend 2 hours reading your site. It’s really great. Best regards, Chris from Poland.

  8. Skiv says:

    Excelent photos with invalid interptretation.

  9. Andrey says:

    The pictures are really amazing. I grew up in Moscow in 80s. It was great time. We’re children of 80s never been afraid anything, including USA. :-). I miss thouse days. My first skateboard’s been saved by my :-))

    • ian says:

      im australian, my wife bulgarian, last time i was in bulgaria i found in a market a new condition 1980s russian skateboard, i was a mad australian skater from the 70s, so this board is a treasure for me ,i think probably the only one in australia. glad to here it has a brother somewhere .

  10. Andrey says:

    I was proud my country when I was whatching military parades on 9th May. -:)

  11. BigDog says:

    “…” I was taught to fear the Soviet Union and everyone had to say negative things about communism”

    Unless you were an actual communist which was a legal party in the USA. Perhaps you should have gone to a university where there were many apologists for the USSR, Stalin, etc, who also blamed America for the Cold war – Noam Chomsky is lauded and very wealthy. Lets not forget how Hollywood loves Castro. I am wondering who exactly made everyone say negative things about communism…. perhaps people made up their own minds.

    • Yngve says:

      “I am wondering who exactly made everyone say negative things about communism…. perhaps people made up their own minds.”

      Yeah, right! The propaganda machine in the US and in the rest of the capitalist western world wasn’t exactly lagging behind its Soviet counterpart. And it still isn’t. Psyops, anyone?

      Besides, it’s always an interesting fact that communism appeals to a lot more people in countries who actually has experienced communism than in countries who have not. Germany is a microcosms of this interesting fact. In eastern Germany, who in fact experienced communism, there are twenty to thirty times more supporters of communism than in western Germany, who have never experienced communism.

  12. dRE says:

    Didn’t people get thrown to jails in USA for being communists? I think in those days it was like the worst thing, to be called a communist. You’ll immediately turn all your friends into enemies and bring close attention of the authorities.

    • Douglas Bush says:

      People in the USA who were communists were not thrown in jail. But, they were isolated from others. Communists were frowned upon by most people. You were considered “weird” and as though something was wrong with you.

  13. Cheshire_d0g says:

    The last one is probably a photo from finnish WWII propaganda, mentioned above. (http://englishrussia.com/?p=385) The style is the same, and it says “There’s no reason for grief. Another cigarette – and a good sleep”

  14. Илья says:

    Red Square, in the middle of London near, and a Military parade is taking place on it.)))))))))))))))))))))))))))

  15. Snape says:

    :) Actually, people didn’t get arrested if they were caught in the subway during office hours (wouldn’t it be more practical to shut metro for that purpose?) It was Andropov’s initiative to detain people in the streets to check whether they should be at work – and I remember my Mom worrying about it when she took me to the dentist. But that didn’t last long. You know, looking at all these photos, I thought – here are hundreds of everyday life stories, now lost 4eva. Because these people are gone, this civilization is over, and we’ll never know why those old fellas went for a picnic in such a bad weather :)

  16. larik says:

    The picture with “Glory to a Working Class” written on those three houses is in St. Petersburg. I’ve been to the first building many times, because my friend used to live there. Guess what? I was passing by there last year and those signs were still there.

  17. W. Shedd says:

    Wouldn’t waste a piece of bread? My wife, Katja, still will not waste or throw away even a piece of old stale bread! Better to toast it and make croutons, and if that doesn’t work, save it to feed to birds!

  18. Duane says:


    Your experience in the United States may have been different, but as a curious child in the 70s and 80s I was rebuked harshly for asking honest questions about communism. The party line was simply that it was wrong and un-American and if you didn’t pledge likewise, or appeared intellectually curious about Marxist philosophy, you were shunned. Teachers and classmates perpetuated the hostility. Maybe your experience was different, but I can’t remember ever having an honest discussion about communism until the early 90s.

  19. [...] An interesting collection of images from the USSR in the 1980s. Some of the captions are rather priceless… [...]

  20. Riccardo says:

    I have friends from Russia and Lithuania and they tell me about the young peoples communist party and tell me about the air raid horns that would scream to warn the public of attack from the west, of course it was only practice, but to live in that kind of fear or should I say readiness must have been difficult for many especially the older and younger citizens of mother Russia.

    • Gene says:

      Fear? It was mostly considered a distraction. Not much different from a fire drill at your work. Many of the things you had to do and see in USSR in those days were just part of everyday life, just like TV commercials are today. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and people were afraid of the nuclear war, and they were afraid of the KGB, but we didn’t have these things on our mind day after day. It was not a prison camp like many in the West like to imagine it. The Party was the boss, and you’re careful about what you say around the boss, but most people generally thought that the boss was looking out for them.

  21. Ayatrollah says:

    Excellent site, everything about it shows why the US was right to challenge the corrupt, wasted Soviet government.

  22. Bill USA says:

    What? Did he invent these photos? Sounds like you are the propagandist!

  23. konvlad says:

    There is a joke…

    One old man was asked, when his life was better – during Stalin, during Hrushev or Brezgnev? He answer that it was better during Stalin. Why, Stalin was such tyran? Yes, but I was young that time…

  24. [...] …il me parle tout bas, je vois la vie en Rusia. [...]

  25. katia says:

    Wonderful photos ♥

  26. upstarted_northern_person says:

    photo 16 – was this a time exposure and someone walked in front of the camera?

  27. Jeff Link says:

    The USA was a real threat and menace to Soviet Union, so every few weeks there were training alarms when people had to show their ability to hide fast and to use things like these gas masks.

    America was not the enemy it was your own leaders lying to you. Which was really perpetrated by both CCCP and USA. However Russian leaders knew there would be a revolt, if the people knew how much better it could be for the country with out communism.

  28. Cigarettes says:

    Nice times. I am so nostalgic.

  29. 随着我国物流业(货架)的快速发展,整个华东地区物流业托盘的发展也正以物流服务塑料托盘提升到较国内其他地区更高的地位而推进。重视具有提升区域物流托盘效率功能的专业化和标准化物流



  30. Laser Beam says:

    Photos are good, even though it seems that on many of them photographer were trying to show the Soviet Union in the worst possible way. I would not be surprised if it were western journalists. Comments of the author of this post are also very unfriendly and debatable. Some times it is just lie. I am not very old, but I also dream about old Soviet times. And year after year there are more and more young people, who are sorry about the USSR.

  31. Linas Lituanus says:

    “””The USA was a real threat and menace to Soviet Union, so every few weeks there were training alarms when people had to show their ability to hide fast and to use things like these gas masks.”””
    I’m afraid, that American nuclear weapons were no less real than all these training measures for ordinary people. And what does the author mean saying “Every few weaks”? The training hours were carried once a year in a single place. Or he means all trainings that took place in the whole hudge country?

    There are almost no people on the station – that’s because people were not allowed to wander during the daytime, everybody had to work, if somebody was wandering he could be arrested.”””

    :-) yeah :) But the phantasy seems to exceed the reality. I didn’t live in the thirties or the fourties, and i don’t know what was then exactly, but, as in later times, many foreign tourists have been inside the tube (the metro-train tunnel or just Metro) in Moscow, or somewhere else, without any danger to be arrested or so. The same was with ordinary soviet people, from outside the Moscow, who also went to look, what this architectural curiosity looked like.

  32. Josie says:

    I really enjoyed this post, but I have a question? Why were people not allowed to visit other countries during their vacation?

    • lex says:

      For the same reason the North Koreans and Cubans are not allowed to go outside their countries. Their leaders want to protect their citizens from the corrupt influence of the capitalist decadence. Seriously though, Soviet Union was a dictatorship and the only way to keep the lie of communism superiority was to maintain a police state. Soviet citizens could be arrested or have their careers ruined even for having relatives abroad.

    • Bugs Bunny says:

      Who told you that? I’m, myself, personally, did visited so-called “western countries” back in those days… Hence your statement or question is moot.

  33. prefabrik says:

    I don’t think its drink prefabrik

  34. thank very much for this great blog;this is the kind of thing that keep me awaken through out my day. I’ve been look around for this site after I hear about them from a buddy and was please when I was able to encounter it after searching for some time. Being a avid blogger, I’m dazzled to see others taking initivative and contributing to the community. I just want to comment to show my appreciation for your website as it’s very appleaing, and many writers do not get credit they deserve I am sure I’ll visit again and will spread the articulate to my friends.

  35. Erkan says:

    “In Soviet shops there were no variety of things.”
    Yes, if you compare to that of Western and Far Eastern shops in the world. But this photo is taken during shortages occurred (I can understand the situation easy as a person, who lives in Turkey, same in 70s). Look at the actual pictures and movies of showing ex-Soviet life in big cities. You gonna see the good wearing and fashion surprisingly.
    Of course, if you were a member of Communist Party or venerable family and had the permission to hard currency shops, you could buy imported goods. I had a Kazakh girl friend from a famous family, who was a teenager at the Soviet time, and she told me that she grew up with Armani and Gucci bought in Moscow, “none of Soviet goods”.

  36. Erkan says:

    Thank you Kot for your extremely correct words!
    Erkan from Istanbul, who is been in more that 52 countries past 20 years.

  37. Erkan says:

    In Soviet time, if you are interested in a girl, you would offer a cup of ice cream, similar as having a cup of coffee .

  38. I was emotionally attached to communism but now things are totally different. Communism gave the world a lot but it snatched everything including freedom.

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