45 Last Days Of The Soviet Era

Last Days Of The Soviet Era

Posted on November 4, 2011 by

Last Days Of The Soviet Era 1

These are some photos taken by foreign journalists in the USSR in 1984, the last year of the era, which in 1987 was named ‘Stagnation’. They reflect the spirit of that time rather well, so take a look:

In the picture: a parade in Erevan, November 7th, 1984,

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Is that a food program?

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‘Implement the school reform!’

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Red Square in Erevan.

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This generation hardly remembers that era…

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Armenian Hero of the Soviet Union.

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They stick to traditions in Armenia.

In the picture: sacrificial yeanlings.

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‘Participants of Berlin’s Day in Moscow! Welcome!’

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45 Responses to “Last Days Of The Soviet Era”

  1. Hirsh says:

    It’s rather amusing that they were still parading themselves around Red Square in Chaikas by that time. FAIL!

    • clyde says:

      What is wrong with going in an old perfectly maintained and preserved car. I see the queen of England going in a horse and buggy and nobody is shallow enough to say that is a failure.

      • Hirsh says:

        Well the GAZ M13b convertible was only produced in 61/62 so they at least are a classic. But the GAZ M13 Chaika limos were in production basically unchanged from 1959 to 1981, only about 3000 were built, they were only available to senior government officials (they were one step below the ZIL limos) and to me at least, are emblematic of the shortcomings on centralized top down government planning and the cluster… of shortages in all sorts of consumer goods that by the 1980s, lead to the reforms and turmoil you see in these pictures, and the eventual disillusionment of the Soviet Union just 10 years or so later.

        And don’t even get me started about the British Monarchy and there relevance today…they are window dressing, a throw back to a bygone era for tourists to coo over. Of course they ride around in horse drawn carriages. Why former colonies, now sovereign nations in their own right, Like Canada and Australia to name a few, still pay homage and allegiance to the powerless figurehead queen of a foreign land baffles me but whatever, that’s their choice.

  2. geoff says:

    Did the big political change make a big in lifestyle for the average family.

    We have elections here in Australia and the main party might get changed, but nothing else in our life really changes, inspite of all the political promises.

    • geoff says:

      I should say make a big in “lifestyle change” for the average family.

      • ayaa says:

        Oh you have no idea. It wasn’t just a party that changed. It was an entire system, way of life that had been for seventy years.

    • Hirsh says:

      Mid to late eighties we’re a time of great change in the USSR. I’m beginning to wonder if you are old enough to remember the ’80s? Oddly enough the first leader to be born in the Soviet Union, and under communism, eventually presided over it’s dismantlement and disillusionment. It still amazes how easily it all feel apart in the end.

    • Yojimbo says:

      That sounds typical for most nations even communist because in every system there are the common people and the ones who have the power and are the ones that have control over the path of each nation.I honestly see voting as a little game for people to play it makes you think you have a say when you really do not.The ones who wield the power always have control the way they go about is a little different in every system but it the same old song and dance.

      The way I see it in the ideal nation the government should be changed drastically every few generations.When the US formed many of those men felt this way they felt that the people needed to have the right to remove their when it did not suit their needs.Sadly men for 200 years have striven to ignore this.If you say you wish the US government should be changed you are made an enemy of the state even if you do say nothing violet or in support of a foreign nation.

      • Hirsh says:

        All i really know about is my own country, the U.S., and here voting always comes down to the lesser of two evils, not who will best fulfill the needs of the people who elected them. Sad but true. America is corrupt, we just put a veil of legitimacy on it. Window dressing is all it is. We are all puppets of the lobbyists and their financial backers, and that is who the politicians answer to in the end.

        The old ’79 Bob Dylan song “Gotta Serve Somebody” is truer then ever today.


    • OLUT says:

      It probably didn’t change too much within a family — the kids still go to school, parents still go to work, but it changed everything around the people, all the outside things.

      Before, you couldn’t choose your own home, couldn’t really choose your own career.
      You couldn’t open a business or do much to earn more money.
      You couldn’t travel outside of the SU or -friendly countries like East Germany. (Finns, for example, could go to Russia, but Russians couldn’t really visit Finland.)
      There was virtually no freedom of religion… as a kid I was told that grandparents could teach their grandkids about God, but that was the only way that was allowed. (Don’t know how accurate that is, please let me know if it’s not true.)

      It went from the government making all decisions for your life, to you making them.

      If you lived somewhere in SU that wasn’t Russia, such as Estonia, Latvia, Belarus, etc., there was strong Russification; you couldn’t have any national symbols. In 1988 Estonia, there was the “singing revolution” where about 300 000 people joined together in a park and sang Estonian folk songs. It had been disallowed but Russia couldn’t stop 300 000 people! Also if you lived somewhere like that, you might have been forced there or forced out, 20 000 people were mass-exiled from Estonia in the Stalin days. Likewise, Russians were moved to the gobbled-up countries, with no say in the matter.

  3. geoff says:

    Such a big change would probably have frightened/worried your parents and grand parents, but the younger people said “bring it on”!

    I am not trying to trivialize such a huge change. But its usually the older people that do not like even small changes to things over here.

    • Hirsh says:

      Sounds trivializing and a rather big assumption to me. Systemic change to the system was instituted by the old people in power in the first place. So generalizing about how the young vs old felt about it is vastly oversimplifying things.

      • geoff says:

        Hirsh it was meant to be question, did the change frighten old people, not in any position of power, and did young people embrace the change.

        • ayaa says:

          I think that the old-timers did support the reform, while it was the youth that took the streets and in effect brought about those reforms.
          We had such high hopes for change.

          Back then, I thought that the economic stability and general equality of socialism could be combined with the greater material wealth of capitalism. But then Yeltsin straddled the tank, and sat in the big chair in the Kremlin and brought in ‘shock therapy’.

          Oh well. Better save it for the local bar, or better yet, the voting queue in December.

        • Hirsh says:

          Well that’s different as a question, Goeff. Older folks are right to worry when a government starts talking about reform, after they’ve already worked hard and paid their dues as citizens. (Unlike Greece – joke!). Sorry if i was harsh.

  4. Osip says:

    I look upon the white sided tyres of the missile cars with fond nostalgia.

    • Yojimbo says:

      Really I bet they would look even better if you stuck your head between the second and third tires it looks like just a tight enough fit to make your head pop and then it would be a red wall instead of a white wall tire.

  5. Mr. Fox says:

    After I saw this post. I find photos of anti-communism oratorical contest taken in last month of 1991 on my old school book.

  6. anyad says:

    The old man with the s*itload of badges isn’t the Hero of the Soviet Union. He doesn’t have the badge that comes with this title.

  7. (r)evolutionist says:

    You can’t understand Russia without knowing about the U.S.S.R. It has to have been a better quality of life for the people in the borderlands (the “Stans,” Georgia and Armenia- I’ll exclude the “Baltic States”) when you look at their present situations.

  8. marxistworker says:

    Socialism brought a leveling to quality of life; the majority had just enough. Capitalism brings glorious wealth to a minority, hope (overwhelmingly, false) to vast numbers that they will one day have anything they want and a permanent, persistent underclass of “shadow people.” People seem to be happier under capitalism with their gadgets and SUVs and private schools but I will always believe in the muted gray goodness of socialism where happiness is defined by free medical care when you are ill, not by having the newest smart phone. Maybe the Soviet people didn’t have 3 autos for every family and green-lawned 2500 square-foot homes but they still had a good life (post-Stalin, of course).

    • marxistworker says:

      I’m not confused. I’m theoretical.

      • Hirsh says:

        Theory is great, it didn’t work. We humans don’t play nice and share like that. We just don’t. We need motivation, something that’s personal to strive for if our lives are going to have any meaning. At least IMO.

      • yojimbo says:

        I think you are confused as your beloved theory has been proven to fail already.It fails at its core goal completely.As I said above you will never see the leadership following the theory at all.Even the most extreme ever place to have followed socialist ideas to the extreme core the Khmer Rouge Pol Pot and his leadership had cars and fancy things that others would have executed for having.And the feature that I love most about Communism? How it says that there is no god yet what do they do?The leaders turn themselves into god s with cults of personality.

        And they had to build a wall around Berlin to keep people from flowing out.Yet many still risked going over the wall even though it meant death if caught a bullet in the back.

        You can not say yet much as to the smaller former Soviet states many of them where not in the best shape during Soviet times either.

        Russia it self is really just getting started post USSR you can look at the 1990’s as an intermediate period.Really just now are they getting out of the storm so to speak.

        On the small scale communism does work well but on the large scale it fails worse than any government at its core goals.I once ate and end of harvest meal with some Italian Communist farmers on a trip in Italy they where good people but at this level the system is less corruptible.We all had a good conversation about governments and they by the way knew that I was an American but also a member of the US military.

        So tell me “marxistworker” have you ever sat at a meal with a real Marxist? Not some punk college kid?

        • marxistworker says:

          Like most Americans you cannot debate without insults. Good luck to your country.

          • (r)evolutionist says:

            They were brought up watching Morton Downey, Jr.

            • Hirsh says:

              Apparently Revolutionist isn’t above leveling insults either… lol, kind of ironic considering what he is replying to in the first place. Pot met kettle.

          • yojimbo says:

            Ah yes see now you display your lack of knowledge.Do you honestly think that people are going to break bread with a person that they dislike?Of course not.You also seem to assume that I like everything about the type of government in the US any person who assumes that all people of a given group is clearly very ignorant

            I said punk college kid because that is honestly the best description for people who blindly follow theory such as your self and your “comrade” (r)evolutionist.By the things you two always say it is clear that neither of you have any real experience in life and most likely you two strut around in Che Guevara shirts looking “cool”.

            Go out and get some experience in life and stop spouting your “Theory”.I learned and still learn from experience not from some book full another persons ideas.I joined the military after school because stranger as it may seem it is the best way in the US for a person to truly gain experience when you see how the world really functions then you can have an idea what is really out there.

            You and (r)evolutionist fool no one and what silly names as well for a true revolutionary will have their name known and not need to create one.

            You two and people like you no matter what nation they come from are the people that need good luck.

            Here is a secret the best government is moderate not overly left or overly right a good goverment has several different parties with differing views not just one or two which is the plague of most every nation today.Several different ideas in the same room the best will come out as result not the worst one which is the result of single party and two party systems because in those there is either no discussion do to there being on one line or argument because there only two lines and each too much power base.

            • (r)evolutionist says:

              Lots of anger here.

              • yojimbo says:

                No more like a lot of speaking the truth.I am going to respond to any person who assumes that I am going to get invited to eat by a group of people and insult them.I do not normally pass along an insult but to be honest the punk term I used best describes at least in English those that proclaim that they know all about others and much experience when they clearly do not.

                You both claim are so caught up in your theory that you alow it to blind your views of people and your impression on everything.Anyone would agree with me just go back and read yours or marxistwoker’s posts they speak for them selves only the people equally closed minded agree with you guys and give you thumbs up.I do not care how ups or downs I get at least I have an opinion formulated by myself.

                I mentioned the Che Guevara shirts becuase you lots of people claiming to be Marxist and they have a shirt with him witch is something the man himself would have hated.

              • Hirsh says:

                OK i know i said below “no more politics” for me, but i’m really curious if (r)evolutionist and marxistworker are from Russia or other country with a socialist past, or westerners?

                Are you guys old enough to have lived it or just sit around Starbucks talking theory over frappuccinos?

                • (r)evolutionist says:

                  I know 3 different people from the former socialist States of the U.S.S.R., Romania, and the former Czechoslovakia. All were open-minded and honest about their experiences under Socialism. And none were insulting and self-righteous when you didn’t follow their beliefs lockstep. But I forget, I’m a useful idiot with a Che tee-shirt. Sorry.

    • OLUT says:

      I believe we need a mixture of Capitalism and Socialism; 100% of either is bad.

      You need the ability to soar, to create and be rewarded for it, it’s the best way to progress.

      But you also need a safety net; you need health care that doesn’t bankrupt you, help if you lose your job. To have no safety net can lead to brutal poverty.

      So the best systems combine the best parts of each.

  9. L.S.Zlatopolsky says:

    Well, I don’t know who the Prez of Uzbeki Beki Beki Beki Stan Stan is, but I bet he is corrupt and doesn’t help his people like the Soviet Union’s Guvmint did.

  10. Hirsh says:

    OK no more political comments from me! The GUM department store, beautiful building, what are those in the first floor que waiting in line for? What does the sign say? Those are the little details in photos that i like to ponder…

  11. SSSR says:

    I remember that era!Russia warms up to the west and Mc’donalds and Ford ect..moves into the country and no buttons will be pushed because the cold war ends,or it is silently on a continuing standby….

  12. OLUT says:

    The picture of the two convertibles is a strange optical illusion. It looks like one double-decker car, or like I’m seeing double. I had to study it for a minute!

  13. bub says:

    EXCELLENT conversation, people!

    Glad to see mature posters

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