I am 34 and I miss the USSR


September 19th, 2016 – Fort Russ News – 
By Olga Lugovaya –  Zavtra.ru – translated by Kristina Kharlova


“A pioneer is a good friend, takes care of the young and helps the old”

Olga Lugovaya

There is a perception that those who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union are more nostalgic for their youth. Somehow I am also nostalgic for the Soviet Union, although my youth is now, so my sorrows are not for youth, but for the country.

My early, but conscious childhood was during the decline and the death of the Soviet Union. I caught only the approaching earthquake which is shaking us to this day. However, I remember much from that era and my memories aren’t flashes of fragmentary events and impressions from the distant childhood, but very specific events.

I remember the ceremony of inauguration of becoming “oktyabryata” [the youngest communists at 7 years old, in first grade – KK] and the special pride I felt wearing the pin. I remember in school in first grade the teacher Zoya Grigoryevna, seeing what a mess my desk was, quietly made a remark, saying that Lenin’s desk was always in perfect order. It was the year one thousand nine hundred and eighty-nine. I quickly organized my workplace with the thoughts “I want to be like Lenin”. And then in 2 years, Zoya Grigoryevna said, “Children, tomorrow we will not wear our badges”. For a very long time I held the badge close at hand. Sort of, my child’s communist party membership card, I still have it. I have a pioneer tie, which was bought ahead of time, but I never became a pioneer.

Oktybryata are neat, study well, love school and respect the elderly!

I remember well the security and peace that prevailed in the now completely different, disturbing and volatile Dagestan Republic. In those years, my father Alexander Vasilyevich every year got us [company-sponsored and free – KK] trips to the resort from the company “Dagenergo”, where he worked for many, many years. Me and my brother, being then still kids of 5-6 years old, with my mom and grandma went 35 kilometers from civilization for 3 weeks or even a month. In the evening we went to the outdoor cinema, located in an adjacent resort 3 kilometers away. Came back from the show almost at midnight. We were enjoying a quiet, warm, southern night, listening to the sound of the sea, the distant voices and laughter of vacationers also returning from the show, admired the incredibly starry sky. Two fragile women and two small children, we never thought that someone could attack us.

In 2009 in Makhachkala, opposite the Interior Ministry building, located at the central Lenin square, opened a memorial to fallen on duty police officers. The black plates, framed by granite display mournful lists, since 1936, that is, since the formation of the DASSR. Reading the years and names, it is clear that even in the most troubled and difficult times as for the Republic and for the whole country there are just 1-3 names, up to 5. From 1943 to 1949 – no names. From 2000 the situation is as follows: 1 year – 1 plate (!). At least a dozen names for one year and the number of these plates is growing. This unique of its kind document I always cite as an example to all those spiteful critics who measure the country solely with kielbasa.

Once I was asked if I had a dream. Yes, I have a dream – it is to revive the great and powerful Union, when the sound of its anthem went pierced your heart and stopped your breath. A dream of justice and honesty, morals and real patriotism, security and peace in all corners of my homeland. Crazy? Possible. But I’m sure that at least half of the country is full of such crazies as me, at least. Yesterday, I went to the polls and, yes, I voted for my dream, or rather for those who, as I hope, fight for justice, equality and fraternity.


P.S. from Kristina Kharlova:

Guess what, dear Western readers, the stereotypes you hear about USSR are lies! Those store lines you see on the pictures are from the 90’s when Russian government followed the advice of Western advisors and drove the country to default.

The Soviet model is a mortal danger to the Western system and it is imperative for the media to instill an immunity against it in Western consciousness.

You may be surprised to learn that security, lack of crime, safety, trust in the future and ethical education were the hallmarks of USSR. Please don’t judge a society by it’s elite, but by it’s lower class. While lower classes face high odds of hunger and incarceration in the West, in the USSR there were only two classes – the working class (95% majority) and the thin sliver of nomenclature, the management class (who existed somewhere in the movies, but were rarely encountered in daily life), who were rumored to enjoy special benefits like personal vehicles and finer foods by virtue of their role as controllers of country’s resources, who, however were unable to steal so much that it would be noticeable and undermine the working class.

There was one solid working class sharing similar socio-economic background and opportunities. The Soviet values were that all workers have a right to free and subsidized housing, education (including higher education), daycare, job placement, adequate vacation (4 weeks), sports and activities for kids, public transportation, job security, early retirement (55 for women), 2-3 years of maternity leave, summer camps and healthcare, of course.

Another words, equality so coveted but elusive in the West, was achieved in USSR.

Soviet ideology was a religion. No, not about praying to Stalin. Our God was Lenin and he was the epitome of virtue. Soviet education developed a moral code which aimed to raise perfect Soviet citizens. Soviet ethical code was the foundation of Soviet education. From age 7 you were accepted into the club of the highest honor and virtue. You were expected to help the youngest and the oldest. Each tram, bus and trolley had seats assigned to the elderly and mothers with children. Men would give up their seats for women. What is so striking in the West? Men don’t get up in public transport. We, as young pioneers (junior communists) went to the homes of the elderly to pay them a visit. We mopped our own classrooms, because hard work was one of the cornerstones of Soviet ideology. After school was out for the summer we had 2 weeks of “labor” – painting desks and preparing for the next year. We did duty in the cafeteria helping set up for lunch. We were expected to study hard and try hard, because Lenin did. Lenin was our God, but we knew Lenin as a model of righteousness. Every school had a Lenin room – a mini-museum of Lenin’s life. And we tried, we tried to be good like Lenin because together we can work towards a better future.

In school we studied the sacrifice of little communists in WWII tortured and murdered by the Nazis, and learned to appreciate the unique traditions of various nationalities inhabiting the USSR, dressing up in different ethnic costumes for special festivals. Soviet education aimed to raise hard-working, selfless and driven children who all had the same opportunities to fulfill their greatest potential.

The fall of the USSR ushered a segregation of society into rich and poor, a spike in crime, greater opportunities for fewer people and struggle and survival for most.

After a 25 year experiment marked by wars and economic tremors, although the oldest Soviet generation is gone, the memories are not forgotten and Soviet nostalgia is a force that will be a major contestant for Russia’s future. 

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