Tag Archives: ussr
October 12, 2012

Off to the ‘Stans

Just a super quick note before I head off to the airport. For the next three weeks I will be traveling around Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. So after a few years of being stuck stateside, I will finally have some new content and photos for this blog.

(Courtesy WikiTravel)

November 4, 2010

POTD: “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” in Moscow

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman

Designed in 1937 by Vera Mukhina, the “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” is a 78 foot high stainless steel sculpture that crowned the Soviet pavilion at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. The sculpture currently resides at VDNKH in Moscow and is one of my favorite examples of socialist realism. This photo was
taken in 2003 while the sculpture was undergoing restoration.

October 27, 2009

On Stalin and Obama

This is for all the illiterate idiots (hello, Glenn Beck) who invoke the names Stalin, Hitler, Kim, and Mao when discussing Obama. Pick up a goddamn history book for once and realize what you are actually saying. From “A Trip to Chon Tash”:

The crimes of the old regime were on exhibition to those swearing an oath to uphold the new order. In the museum at the site the possessions of many of the victims were displayed with some biographical details. Documents from the archives of the NKVD/KGB showed the trappings of legal formalism that accompanied the brutal deeds, every murder judicially authorized with a sentence stamped and sealed. The execution of the sentence was scrupulously documented. And on one wall was a simple display that spoke powerfully: a portrait of Stalin, and below it a skull, resting on stones taken from the pit.

In America today, the name and image of Stalin are invoked heavily by fringe critics of Barack Obama. The critics disagree with his policies on health care and see in it the basis for increasing power of the state. The role the state will play in the healthcare system is a legitimate political issue on which well-informed citizens can have different views. But the comparison to Stalin makes clear that these critics really have no inkling of who Joseph Stalin was, what he did, and why his name lives in special infamy at hallowed spots like the pit at Chon Tash. This frivolous use of his name and image cheapens our nation’s political dialogue, and it is also a mark of disrespect to his victims. And it points to the fundamental crisis of which Aitmatov wrote so powerfully: the failure to know the past, to be informed by it, and to distill guidance from it. The age of the mankurt, alas, has not passed.

December 16, 2008

‘Cos there’s a red star up on the Christmas tree

What the EFF?!

I wish they would play this on WashFM (Christmas music 24/7)

December 8, 2008

Bears playing hockey

Russian bears, of course. And some of them skate better than I do. Moscow Circus, 1970s.

November 25, 2008

POTD: Nixon/Khrushchev Kitchen Debate, 1959


Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (2L) vehemently arguing w. VP Richard Nixon (2R) who is furiously objecting as an excited interpreter (C) translates their firey words re US ideas on home construction during “kitchen debate” at American Natl. Exhibit at Moscow Fair

The entire transcript is worth reading, but this is the best line:

Khrushchev: You’re a lawyer of Capitalism, I’m a lawyer for Communism. Let’s kiss.

Sounds like the title of a Panic! at the Disco song.

(Howard Sochurek, 1959)

November 22, 2008

POTD: Apollo-Soyuz “vodka” rations, 1975


American astronauts Tom Stafford and Deke Slayton holding tubes of vodka given to them by Russian cosmonauts during historic rendezvous and linkup of Apollo and Soyuz spacecraft.

Who cares what space food tastes like when your meal comes with a tube of vodka?

(The tubes of vodka didn’t actually contain vodka, as that is probably the last thing you want your crew to drink when piloting spacecraft. As a joke, the Soviet cosmonauts pasted vodka labels onto tubes of borscht and presented them to the Americans for a toast. Yes, tubes of borscht. I think I’d rather have the vodka.)


November 9, 2008

In which Gorbachev slays Stalin zombies and gets all the ladies

This music video by Russian metal band ANJ leaves me almost speechless. In it, a buff Mikhail Gorbachev slays Stalin-like zombies and frees the Soviets to party on the beach and consume Coca-Cola and Twinkies. No need to study the fall of the Soviet Union, as this video says it all.


April 16, 2003

Comrade Gorby has a new home

I got the coolest doll off eBay for a buck.  It’s a Mikhail Gorbachev doll produced around 1990.  He’s about 10 inches tall and when you squeeze him he squeaks.  I’m trying to figure out how I can rig a voicebox so he says “glasnost” and “perestroika.”  That would be sweet.

Anyway, here is Gorby:

Gorby is wearing black corduroy pants, a red and black striped shirt, and a black leather jacket that says “Gorby” on the back.  I found this to be quite odd, as I never knew about Mikhail Gorbachev’s secret life as a Hell’s Angel.  I would expect a Gorby doll to be dressed in a suit, but eh, whatever.

In other news, good luck to all those college grads in search of a job!

Tony Blair is going to be on the Simpsons…well, his voice anyways. 🙂

March 5, 2003

March 5, 1953

“Fifty years ago today Russia was delivered from the long nightmare of Joseph Stalin. The man who murdered his compatriots by the millions, who for three decades immersed his country in bloody terror, was finally gone.

It was the end of a reign under which every man and woman knew that he or she could at any time of the day or night be arrested, tortured and killed or sent to a concentration camp. Swept by deadly fear, Soviet people worshiped their ruler. They sacrificed neighbors, wives, husbands, mothers and fathers to Stalin. Denouncing your colleagues and relatives to the authorities in the hope of extending your own life a little longer became routine practice. ‘You die today, so I will live till tomorrow’ was the motto of Stalin’s subjects.”Masha Lipman, The Washington Post

An interesting article in today’s NY Times suggests that Stalin was poisoned by Beria.  Supposedly Stalin was planning to wage a war along the Pacific Coast of the U.S., so Beria decided to get rid of him.  Good idea.