Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

In 1989 Boris Yeltsin, at times just a Soviet parliament and High Council member, has visited United States of America with an unofficial visit. The program of the visit consisted of visiting different landmarks like a Lindon Johnes Space center in Texas etc, but Yeltsin also wanted to see how regular Americans live so he headed directly to the grocery store he saw on the street.  The journalists that were with him on a trip were telling Yeltsin was pretty much shocked by the diversity in the store and was waving his hands all the time – like here on a photo. Inside you can see more photos of him in a store and also a short video which can help you understand why Yeltsin was surprised that much:

Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

The guy which followed him on a trip was telling later that this supermarket shocked first Russian president too much. “He was heading home on a jet and was sitting holding his head with two hands saying – They were lying to the people all the time, telling the fairy tales, inventing something – but everything is already invented!”, was mumbling Boris.

Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

When they got into the store, as one of the guys remember, the manager appeared and helped them to see the store in detail. “Yeltsin asked how many different goods are in store. The store staff answered that there is around 30,000 different things for sale now. Yeltsin then said – did I get the number correctly? Does my interpreter misheard the seller?”. So he was really in a shock look at his face and on a manager’s face. The Lev, guy who was with him, says that Yeltsin before never was in a Western store.

Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

“In the produce section we were shocked how good are the fruits and veggies!”, remembers Lev.

Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket

And I promised to show you video to help easier understand why the future president was shocked, okay here is the video:


Here, a typical Soviet grocery store, no, not typical, this was a luxury grocery store with carts. Normal Soviet store had no carts and you had to ask a seller to hand you something each time you wanted to buy stuff. Take a look and hope you can understand why Yeltsin was shocked.


28 thoughts on “Boris Yeltsin in American Supermarket”

  1. Soviet Union was a total failure! No food, no decent clothing, no freedom, no nothing! People were tethered to coverment! West was, and is just fine. Nowadays Russia is heading back to Soviet Union times – faster than u can imagine! And know what, you all deserve that, because you all believe that propaganda sh*t that Russian coverment is producing. There´s still no freedom of speech in Russia. Congratulations, Igor´s!

      • Thank you ER this story was the best one I have seen in here. It’s not that the people in the west want to look down at Russia the opposite is true, we want to know Russian way of life and to share what we have.

      • Russia has the highest percentage of drug users in the community, the percentage of abortions among women is also very high. The average length of life of the Russian man barely exceeds 60 years. Demographic projections are also against Russia. I do not mention even alcoholism. Russia wants to save the morally rotten west? , Look in the mirror And make order in your backyard. Russia is like a big balloon with a hole that is still growing, Putin is pumped to the limits of the capability of the balloon but, as evidenced by the condition of the Russian society, the economy and standard of living, little changed for the better.

  2. When the Iron Curtain fell, a friend of mine brought newspapers from Austria. There was a table comparing prices in different supermarkets, Lidl vs. Spar etc. It was December and I remember I thought “WTF – fresh strawberries, melons and cucumbers at this time of year???”

  3. Same was here in Romania, staying in line for hours to buy bread, milk, meat, etc. Exotic fruit, toys, and “luxurious” merchandise was sold only on holydays.

      • and the very dangerous butter – when we try to put it on bread – a major risk was to be sprinkle with water from the butter in the eyes. And ration was 100 grams (half a pack) per month for each person.

        • YES! I remember when we lived in Kazakhstan (where it’s super hot in summer), I got that tiny package of 100g of butter, but by the time my little self hopped and skipped home, it all melted and all I brought was a buttery brown paper :).

    • Only 2 year late. You are correct. Out of season fruit and vegetables are grown in Mexico. They get sprayed with a wax like coating to prevent insects and mold growth while they are shipped around the country. That coating also traps any pesticides onto the fruits or vegetables.

  4. After viewing the film of USSR market I was as stunned as Yeltsin was in the US supermarket, and I saw why in the movie/ I have never seen such a sight as your market in America. Your store had one choice per item, USA had ten choices, more or less.

    The only supermarket chain we have here with one choice per item is ALDI and their products are, for the most part just as good and 20% cheaper than WAL-MART.

    Have things improved in Russian markets these days? Hope so!

    • Do you mean Supermarkets in America have only one choice or Russia? Either way Russia is cool I just wish we had a better relationship.

      • I meant Supermarkets in Russia used to havr only one chioce per item, from what I saw.

        Here in my little college town of 30,000 people we have Wal-Mart, Kroger, Meijer and Aldi stores to go to. Only the ALDI usually has one item per choice, the others have many more.

        I agree, our peoples would get along fine–it’s our leaders that are the problem! 😉

  5. in terms of making a profit probably yes, capitalism wins for some,in terms of wealth distribution probably not or why is it that more and more people need to live by foodstamps and the 85 richest individuals on the planet own more than the poorest half..

    • A Socialist dictatorship only benefits a very small group, take North Korea or Cuba as an example, only the political elite of these places benefit. In capitalism all are free to thrive if they are able. See the troubled places in the world are always hostile regimes to the free market and free enterprise of its citizens. My country is complicated but I still have hope.

      What idiots like James Storey, consider a benefit, serve only to control the citizen.
      -Education is not great, after all you don’t see so many inventions and creations are made in free places.
      -Health Service is not good for the person outside the circle of power. A simple analgesic formula comes from foreign companies.
      -Not everyone who had a place to live. Or water in their homes and the blackouts were constants.
      -And James, nobody looked for the poor because everyone was poor. Less the State and the Marxist elite.

      Don’t let this group of privileged inhuman you call Liberals and who control the media and almost everything in your country convince you with lies.

      • why so many always come to the conclusion that in non capitalistic societies only a small always static elite profits an the rest of the population always only lives in poverty whereas in capitalïstic environments everyone can become part of the elite and all human subjects are well off is a mistery. The believe in this lie is exceptionally strong and is indeed a tale given from one generation to the next even though most live in poverty all their lives. Though were are the origins of this tale and why is it repeated over and over while the richest become richer by the second?

    • As we say in Eastern Europe – on paper (meaning according to plans/idea) both systems are ok. Things go bad when people start to exploit the system. An in both cases it is greed or other similar sins.

      My impression is that at the start of soviet era people did everything understanding that they do it for them self. Later it became more and more – I do it for the state, so that means – for someone else, and so that means I can do it not so good. Nobody will punish me for that if I will keep on doing it just good enough, and anyway – everyone else is doing the same. If it belongs to the state – then “it does not have a direct owner”. That means you are “more free” to be a bit more reckless, may steal some for your own needs etc. (you maybe did not heard an old soviet joke about people having lots of things at home, despite that the shop shelves were often empty).

      Sometimes you may be “punished” by your direct superiors for such behavior. But they will avoid to make too much noise so in turn their superiors would not know about this issue or else they themselves will be “punished” also.

      The basic idea of capitalism (the healthy capitalism) is OK. It turns into something ugly when greed takes over.

  6. I never visited Soviet Union but have been to Russia several times. I watch these video and recognised it at once. It have changed hugely the last decades and especially the last decade to be much better, but the Soviet era still hangs over Russia in many ways.
    I love Russia and wish that I will see much more of the great people and their hospitality, but its so huge that one needs a whole lifetime to see much of it.
    God bless Vladimir Putin and every one he has around him.
    Ya lublju Russia.

  7. Propaganda mock-up. Liquor store would be more authentic. Yeltsin was hailed in the west but ruined his country further. Don’t believe the western propaganda.

  8. Alcoholism is an illness; why make fun of someone with an illness. Anyway, these “grandstandings” are always interesting – Russian eating (and drinking) habits have gone downhill since introduction of American Junk Food. Too bad, really. I know Russians (in Russia) who actually enjoy visits to McDonalds, … and have lived to tell about it!
    One of the very few good things about the “sanctions” is an embargo on imports of food from the West.

  9. Well it seems the Ussr inadvertently created a populace that was exceedingly, hardy, tough, intelligent, healthy, good looking and resourceful. (maybe could not survive without being that way). In this video and McDonalds one, they look more healthy than an average American group. Ha Ha

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