40 Dark Face of Socialism by Vlad Sokolaev

Dark Face of Socialism by Vlad Sokolaev

Posted on January 11, 2016 by tim

Soviet photographer Sokolaev has called his series of photos something that can be translated as “Unattractive and hidden side of socialism”. He was taking those photos in a twenty year period from the 1970s to the late 1980s. Of course, Soviet powers would not tolerate such views of their state. However, the series turns out to be really dark and gloomy and really causing of awe when viewed now, almost forty years later. Take a look, awesome photos!

“Happiness” is written on the poster.


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40 Responses to “Dark Face of Socialism by Vlad Sokolaev”

  1. Dan says:

    A very limited and depressing view of life at that time. In every nation people laugh, cry, love and suffer. You can’t lay all the blame on socialism. Austria is a socialist country ; pretty nice!
    In a consumer economy there is unhappiness too. In the West we have sex, drugs and rock and roll. In Russia they have sex and vodka.

    • Bergen says:

      Probably “socialist” countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland or Denmark know a lot of things that you don’t. Especially if they have the best living standard in the world.

  2. Jon says:

    By carefully choosing photographs I can show you the horrors of capitalism. Standard propaganda trick.

  3. Darius says:

    Hmm, many photos are fine, nothink too dark there. Just it was a different time period – life in general has changed over many years. Yes there are some with obvious darkness. And some are dark to the ones who know those times, else they might look ordinary to others..

  4. tom bauer says:

    probably they didn’t know how bad they had it

    • Oscar Goldman says:

      In the 90’s, they had it worse, trust me

      • m_ says:

        Yeah, supplies from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary etc. came to an end.

        • Asmodeus says:

          Supplies? That was the easy part. The mishandling of all kindo of matters during the Yeltsin years is legendary. It’s been calculated that the Post Soviet 90’s crisis in Russia was much worse than the 1929 depression.

    • LRT says:

      When I went to Moscow in the early 1960’s (when all access to Western media was prohibited – before VCRs and smuggled movie tapes showed actual life in the West cars, houses, cities, etc.)I met educated people who believed the most outrageous things about how terrible things were in Europe and USA. They were shown pictures of the 1930’s Great Depression and were told that they were current conditions. People in USSR WERE better off than their grandparents had been under the Tsars and they were always told that it would be much better in the future.

      • JBDragon says:

        North Korea is doing that NOW! I was watching some on youtube and laughing. It was so funny with supposedly showing all these people out in the winter and snow and saying how all these people are drinking warmed up SNOW!!! It was so out there, but most everyone there doesn’t get much in the way of the real world as it’s been so closed of for so long.

  5. Phill Mazur says:

    that one with the trains and the old lady on a field … absolutely brilliant photo

  6. Gazza says:

    How are these pics “the dark face of socialism”? Someone is peddling an agenda…

  7. nunchaq says:

    What are the bright sides?

  8. Tutan Camon says:

    What is at number 1 and 29???Graveyards?
    The only nice picture is number 35 first photo.

  9. Rabbi Goldstein says:


    expect gulag deportation in next 24 hours

  10. JJ says:

    that is grim … can you imagine what life in putin’s russia must be like, if people feel nostalgic and sad not living in CCCP anymore?

  11. Oscar Goldman says:

    -“an you imagine what life in putin’s russia…”. Don’t worry “JJ”. Russians enjoyed GDP growth of nearly 10% for more than 10 years (until 2014, that is).

  12. Oscar Goldman says:

    Frankly, I was expecting much worse. Pictures from the 1990’s in Russia are much much worse.

  13. mario says:

    I grew up in Yugoslavia, it was also “communistic” country but we really didn’t had it as bad as old USSR (partially the problem was after WWII, Stalin and other after him cared more about other territories and they couldn’t even handle what they got, but on the other hand, they never cared about people anyhow) and ,yes, sometimes shops were empty.
    You actually had money but you could wipe your ass with it, now you can buy anything imaginable but you cant afford it..BUT, there is a silver lining in those systems(one people dont talk about), first thing, people talked, everybody had their doors open, everyone knew everyone, it was unimaginable that someone would kill someone or harm someone(if something like that happened it was a news of a month),crime?, there was less crime in 5 years in whole USSR than in 1 day in California(I sh t you not!Im not talking about political stuff, who wanted to play politics in communism had to know that could easily get you ruined, politicians liked their comfy chairs). People cared more one for another and , yes, there was a caste of people that had slightly more(politicians, usually high ranked military personnel etc..) but normal people didnt care, or they dreamed about some trinket you can buy for 1 $ now, but they were happier. It was a flawed system, but it was not all that bad, it actually had a lot of stuff capitalism could learn from.
    I think that probably best time and place to be alive was in USA in period of 1955 to 1975, but they are paying now price for faults of their parents), there is no utopia…

  14. maximum says:

    i love cccp

  15. Userx says:

    Nothing wrong with those pictures.

  16. Rick70 says:

    A sad picture of a world that was much more than the sum of its parts, in both good and bad. The choice of pictures is obviously on the sad side. However, i could make a similar collection showing poor people in the same age living in the US or the West and being both on drugs, lost in forests, starved, homeless etc. and give it a dramatic cut calling it “The hidden side of capitalism”.

    • Asmodeus says:

      That’s right. If you want to picture the “hidden side of the US” or Western Europe, you can find the same kind or even worse pictures.

  17. Darius says:

    What most of the West people don’t get that these picture are not from a pour neighborhood or something. Remember – in Soviet union there were no pour people, the state took care of everyone! :) These are a regular day pictures from the ordinary soviet people life. Just of cause not from the main streets where ministers and other officials are often passing by.

    It also was very popular to do major (but only on the surface) emergency visual cleaning, maintenance if the locals learned that some important leaders are coming. Of cause the site seeing route included as much as possible the good side of the city. On Youtube (AZ-sucsP840) you can see that this “tradition” is still alive in Belorussia. There they show to Lukashenko what they did for the factory modernization money (and they got already a warning from Lukashenko one year before). And then Lukashenko decides to choose his own route around the factory…

  18. ausGeoff says:

    Is there any logical reason as to why all these images couldn’t be posted on one single page? Having to click through two images at a time is extremely annoying. I just can’t be bothered. Sorry.

  19. ph says:

    What’s dark on this collection. 95% are funny pics.

  20. Andrey says:

    I was happy to see this real pictures and recall a part of my childhood. Difficulties are a part of normal life. You can overcome and you r strong.

  21. pennywise1540b says:

    As a socialist citizen in south america, I truly feel related to this type of articles. These governments freeze their countries in the past, corrupt and destroy any progress (except militarism), give people a plain life without any possibility of progress, make people believe that they have a real job, and brainwash them to believe they are growing in a modern superpower that can contribute to the progress of humanity.

    • No Mame says:

      Well, the South American kind of regimes are something different. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “socialist” leftie or an Extreme Rightist regime. Both are based on autocrats that repress and impoverish people. Extremes touch themselves.

      Try the “socialist” countries from Scandinavia. They don’t have that Latin American tradition.

  22. Alcamuz says:

    The title should be “The Dark face of “communism” ‘

  23. Marko Juric says:

    There is nothing dark on these photographs (your title is unjustifiably malicious). They are full of humanity, instead of horror on the West.
    Also, it seems that Soviet Union managed to keep good production of photography at the time when West failed with it around middle of the 1970s, primarily due to the strong influence of commercialization.

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