Monthly Archives: November 2014

All the World’s a Stage…

Brezhnev in Kishinev (1976) Celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Moldavian SSR

Brezhnev in Kishinev (1976) Celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Moldavian SSR

The 1980 Olympics, black market consumer goods, railroads, rock-n-roll, and most of all, the invasion of Afghanistan captured our attention this week. While few posts mentioned the Soviet leader most closely associated with the long Soviet seventies, they all speak to the contradictory and wide-reaching policies and practices of the Brezhnev era. Far from being an insular, stagnant system, Soviet society in these years played a major role in shaping and responding to the political, social and economic dynamics of a globalizing world.

We have a bumper crop of red star and comrades’ corner posts this week and encourage visitors to explore and comment on these reflections on late Soviet life. The weekly digest will take a break over the Thanksgiving holiday and be back for its final edition in early December. Until then, всего хорошего!

Image source: Soviet Life. Washington: Embassy of the Soviet Union in the USA. 1965. (from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History)

Moscow Summer Olympics

In 1980, Moscow was set to host the Summer Olympics. This opportunity had been granted to the Soviet Union in 1974 by the International Olympic Committee, and “represented an unparalleled opportunity to showcase the superiority of Soviet athletes as well as … Continue reading

The Afghani Government plays Russian Roulette

The beginning of the Soviet Russian occupation of Afghanistan took place when Russian paratroopers were deployed in the capital of Afghanistan. The date was December 27, 1979 and the beginning of a very long and costly occupation, that would be described in the future as the Russian Vietnam. There were a few specific events which […]

The Soviet Vietnam

In 1973, King Mohammed Zahir Shah of Afghanistan was deposed, ending nearly three hundred years of monarchical rule in the country. A republican government followed which lasted until the April 1978 Saur Revolution, when Soviet-backed Afghan communists assassinated the president … Continue reading

Buy, Buy, BUY!

By the rise of the 1970′s the people of the Soviet Union craved and sought after new fashion, new technology, and better products.  The first eight Five Year Plan’s had failed to produce enough of the common household necessities for each … Continue reading

Rock Goes Russian

Estrada, or stage music, was the preferred music of 1973. It rarely addressed the social issues of the time, but rather focused on the official boundaries of Soviet discourse. The musical establishment of the time “controlled the business through exclusive rights to lease stages, issue recording contracts, contract for radio and television appearances, or to […]

The Project of the Century

The Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) railroad has been called the project of the century in Russia. However this is not because its been the most amazing piece of construction built in Russia; this connotation is given because the project has taken about a century to be fully completed.This railway runs 2,687 miles in eastern Siberia. The … Continue reading »

Soviet Imperialism

Christmas Day, 1979.  As per the request of the acting government (the prior Afghan president had been assassinated at this point and replaced by a Soviet-friendly one named Babrak Karmal), the Soviet Army crosses the border into Afghanistan (Source Essay: “The Invasion of Afghanistan” by James von Geldern). In a speech to the Russian people […]

Desperate for Jeans

In the 1970s, the USSR is thought to go through a period of stagnation. However, there was little stagnation in the economy. Brezhnev’s Five-year plan from 1971-1975 had as its goal the improvement of the people’s standard of living.  To achieve … Continue reading