40 Lines, Lines, Lines

Lines, Lines, Lines

Posted on January 14, 2008 by

long lines in Russia 1

Just fifteen years ago you couldn't just walk in the shop and buy what you need. Instead, you had to stand the longest line you've ever seen and as a regard you could buy not more than some limited amount of a limited choice food or other products. That was Russia in the beginning of the 90s - right after the collapse of USSR, when old Communistic supply system was already ruined but new, capitalistic, hasn't been built yet.

That wasn't only shops who had long lines at their entrances every day, but places like the Embassy of U.S. had the long long line too - you can see it on the last photo of this set. But the most curious line in this set is the line to the Lenin's Mausoleum - you can see it on the photo with the Red Square - one could think that Russian people shouldn't stay any more in line to visit the Lenin, the idol of the communism beliefs when they have such a ruined society around, but no - people were still eager to stand many hours line to visit Lenin too. Probably they wanted to say some swear words right in his face?

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long lines in Russia 2

long lines in Russia 3


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40 Responses to “Lines, Lines, Lines”

  1. rafal says:

    Yeah, the great system russians wanted to share with others.

    • Shizo says:

      Why would you say that? These photos do not represent the communist system in any way. It’s like if they posted photos of the Great Depression and you commented “Yeah, the great system Americans wanted to share with others.”

      • Rusty says:

        nonsense! there always were not enough consumer products on the market, and all things were extremely expensive relative to average wages

        people saved for months and years to buy a tv set, a washing machine or a refregirator

        you could not go out a just buy things, new shoes, a jacket, or anything else without planning ahead

        that is also why the whole place was always corrupt. if you are honest you have no chance to make an income where you are at least free to buy shoes before the old ones fall apart

        • Zrk says:

          What are you talking about? The article is related to time when there were a completely opposite situation. The economic problems were different. Poor planning resulted in situation when people had more then enough money savings but couldnt buy the products because they were produced in very limited quantities. It was quickly changed to reversed after introducing market system when the product’s cost were constantly rising while producing more then enough.

        • JuanCarlos says:

          That´s exactly what we had in Spain on those same years, and this was not a communist country. People had to save a lot of money for long periods to get the same things you mention.

  2. Kubz says:

    we’ve encoutered this problem before the end of communism in czechoslowakia. Old ppl never forget to mention us, how great the hypermakets are…
    strange world

  3. dolgorukas says:

    If these pictures are from 1990, then they show the effects Gorbachev’s market reforms were having in USSR.

    • Mo says:

      Actually Gorbachev has little to do with that: the reforms came about 15 years too late. The economy was already screwed up at the Brezhniev times (the stagnating 70s).

      USSR actually went bancrupt and died because of that. The centralized economy could not function anymore so that’s why these long lines appeared at the end of the 80s (and continued until 92-93).

  4. Kio says:

    Same problem in Romania: before 1989 people would have to stay in line and could buy what they wanted and afterwards they could buy everything they wanted but didn’t have the money for it.

  5. Aunt Chillada says:

    what line i stand in to get russia husband?

  6. Al says:

    The management shows a total lack of commonsense or complete lack of historical knowledge. The communist system worked in its way, just a matter of perspective. People did not have as many choices as they do now but on the other hand, they did not pay as much as they do now. It’s a balance. I do seriously question the capaitalist system, it’s inequities are astounding. America has its own 3rd world. It’s called Louisiana.

  7. Jacobisahottie says:

    Right yeah per capita income in Louisiana is $ 30,952 still higher than average in come in EU ie $ 29,000 or 3.5 times higher than average income in Russia which is just $ 8612 LOL!

    • Philippo says:

      Well, that might be true, but we also have a nice health insurance, a saved pension and a very good social system, and THAT I think is worth the 2,000$ income difference….

    • Niels Bok says:

      You are leaving the Euro-Dollar exchange rate out of the picture. 1 Euro = 1,48 USD now.

      Plus in W-Europe health insurance i.e. is standard and of good to excellent quality. In US most people are not insured at all, and those who are, are not sure what they’ll get for their money. Anybody saw ‘Sicko’ by Micheal Moore ?

      The quality of life is a lot higher in W-Europe than in Louisiana, no doubt about it..

    • John from Kansas says:

      That’s because there are only two people left in Louisiana that have jobs.

  8. maxD says:

    Nowadays the shops are full but the majority of people hardly have the money to buy what they need. Prices of basic consumer goods are increasing every month, but not the salaries.

    And since a lot of stuff is imported, prices are even higher than in the rest of Europe. A simple vacuum cleaner will cost you easily 500 dollars – the same type/brand will sell for approx. 60-90 euro’s elsewhere.

    Food is also expensive and increasing in price as well. And the quality of the cheapest food is quite poor.

    Lenin is like an idol – and keeping in mind that Russians are in general very superstitious visiting Lenin is not surprising. Nothing to lose, right ?

  9. rafal says:

    They represent indeed. All postcommunist countries here in Europe are struggling to catch up with the western ones. It’s not an accident. Supply shortages is a trade mark of this system. Do you konow any (post)communist country with economy doing well? There is a saying: “In socialism they bravely struggle against problems not known in normal countries”. Or: “If communist had have ruling Sahara desert they would have end up with send shortages.” (sorry for my poor english)
    On the other hand look at Japan, West Germany, South Korea. They were controlled by Americans. Great Depression doesn’t change the picture.

  10. adagio1723 says:


  11. Zafarad says:

    We wish Soviets again rise for needy and poor peoples.what can we do just “freedom of doing every thing” ?with empty stomach and empty mind! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !.despite long lines and long list of controlled items,soviet managed to overcome hunger and other capitalist diseases ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

  12. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says:

    Which one is the line outside the disco?

  13. Jacobisahottie says:

    Right yeah, I doubt anyone is jealous of your 3rd world socialist style subsidised healthcare, where you have to queue for 6 months to get a simple surgery, which is just suitable for people like you who do not have the capability to look after your own health.

  14. Jacobisahottie says:

    No I did not leave exchange rate. Even with high value of Euro, the most poorest state of US louisiana still have percapita higher than EU. In fact , equal to Italy and FAR higher than those of Greece, Spain or Portugal.

    And for your information, in the United States, around 84% of citizens have health insurance, either through their employer (60%), purchased individually (9%), or provided by government programs (27%; there is some overlap in these figures).

    The only reason health care is at the forefront of policaal discussion is Americans always demand the very BEST of what the world can offer. Where as Europe or anywhere else are happy with what their government offered to them.

    The quality of life might be better in some parts of Europe, but clearly, many western Europe such as Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal must be 3rd world too since they have lower incomes than the people of Louisiana LOL!

    • maxD says:

      You like reading Wikipedia, don’t you ? But there is more to it than just the figures. Louisiana is not what I would call a desirable place to live, whereas i.e. Portugal is, without any reserves. And Louisiana is more expensive to live in.

      You indeed didn’t see Sicko I guess, which gives an interesting POV of the American health care for those who are insured. Not even mentioning the uninsured. 16 % un-insured: in the EC it’s against the law to not be insured. And at low costs: in Holland i.e. only between 75 and 90 euro’s p/month.

      Quality of life cannot be expressed in simple figures.

  15. Ben says:

    Ok I dont know who or why this is going this way but the last pic is the american embassy in moscow, I have been there many times. OK socialist medicine We americans think our system is the best, no it isnt, it is very good. The living standard of Finland and Sweeden are better than ours the health care is beter than ours. These facts are available at our own CIA web pages. other countries are higher than ours also, Our standard of care is falling in the US, infant mortality is climbing, if we dont do anything about it then our people will have third world style medicen because they cant afford our medical system. Luky for us we do have Local Health departments in the US to help out the poor. I go to Russia a lot and I havent seen these long lines that everyone is talking about or lack of food. also Moscow has more billionairs living their than any other city in the world. Plus they may get payed less per person but their money goes further too.

    • Zrk says:

      It were happening more then 17 years ago. So it has ended swiftly after 1991. Though it weren’t like complete lack of food. You had to put more effort in getting what you need but you could have it nevertheless.

  16. Teenager says:

    Perestroyka Gorbachev no pfotoshop!

  17. MickeyMouse says:

    That is nothing.

    In America, we stand in MUCH longer lines for many hours just to take a very short ride on “Splash Mountain”.

    For the privilege of standing in these lines for a full day, Americans happily pay $80.00 EACH. That is about 2,000p.

    Soviet Russia, the land of the free lines.

  18. D says:

    Peace out. You wont be missed.

  19. SC says:

    Finland really dodged the bullet on this one.

    Thank God for that.

  20. Authorized! says:

    Oh yes, I can perfectly remember that times – with lines and empty after-shave bottles (drunkards used to drink Soviet after-shaves during the prohibition of the mid-80’s).

  21. lorenew says:

    I had, for many years, seriously considered visiting Russia. Apparently I was under the impression that Russia was “just a few years behind” the western world. It may be, economically, but psychologically it’s lost. Lost in the “Soviet” mindset. I have appreciated these blog entries and they have opened my mind considerably. There is no way on God’s green earth would I go there now. Too many people lost in a time warp. Too many people who can’t see their way out…

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