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In , John Steinbeck and photographer Robert Capa published A Russian Journal , one of the earliest attempts to chronicle everyday Soviet life for an American audience. The book featured rhapsodic, lyrical descriptions of the Russian countryside; happy peasants toiling away on collective farms in Ukraine and the Caucasus; and measured depictions of the bleak realities facing government clerks, intellectuals, and factory workers in the cities.

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In many ways, Russia looks very different today. But as the country has returned to some of the militaristic nationalist tendencies of the Soviet era, aspects of everyday life recall what Steinbeck and Capa saw 70 years ago. Under Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin has erected new museums glorifying the Soviet past and staged elaborate military parades that hearken back to the days of the czars. The woman in camouflage, a graduate of the FSB academy , insisted on appearing in uniform.

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Under Soviet rule, the square was the main venue the Kremlin used to showcase its military might, staging massive state parades and marches through the center of the city. My mum told me a story how she got a set of towels.

The Manhoffs were there at the height of the Cold War

Back then you could not just go to the supermarket and buy anything you like from any country you can think of. We had stamps for groceries which were allocated at work everyone back then had a job.


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Everyone was given a set amount of goods groceries — so the stamps were used to buy some necessities. Some real numbers to get a feeling what was it was like to live in the USSR: one got food stamps that were sufficient to buy one kilo of sausages a month among other groceries. During the Soviet era, the 15 member states had strong ties and economic relationships. The states of the USSR were called 15 sisters.

You can experience the special connection which existed back then if you visit the VDNKh or the Exhibition of achievement of the national economy in Moscow. There is a pavilion for each of the member states showcasing the best of what the member state or I should say an ex-member had to offer.


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We had a strong social welfare system which was funded by government. A special feature of it was resorts.


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Back then a concept of unemployment did not really exist — everyone wanted to work and was given an opportunity to work and contribute to the economy. This meant that if you were a member of a union, you could get a heavily subsidised or a free holiday package for yourself and your family members.

Daily Life in the Soviet Union

What a luxury! The Pioneer movement was an equivalent of the Scout movement in western countries.

The Lost World of Communism (Part 1)

Children and youth were accepted to the organization based on academic merit and other achievements. There were three stages depending on the age: — Octyabryata— from year 1 to4 Primary School — were given a pin-shaped like a star with a portrait of Lenin.