In the USSR military service was compulsory. Army was regarded as a school of life for boys.

Now young men try by all means to dodge the army.


In the USSR all information was on the paper medium. Naturally, there was not such a variety of information in the USSR as it is now. But should we better refer it to the scientific and technological progress?

Freedom of speech

In the USSR the criticism of the established order was officially forbidden. But people find a way out in anecdotes (short funny stories). Anecdotes were of different types, including anecdotes about life, politics and top USSR officials.

The number of the irreconcilable fighters for the freedom of speech during the Soviet time was rather small.

Now, despite the state attempts to regulate the freedom, there is a lot of ways to show a personal attitude.


In the USSR corruption was quite an unusual occurrence, especially in the central regions. A fair and rough trial awaited every guilty person, if the corruption was detected.

In modern Russia the level of corruption has grown in all spheres of life.

But surely you can never face corruption in your life.


Prayer service, the Tadzhik SSR

Prayer service, the Tadzhik SSR, 1981. Photo by Vladimir Kryukov

Officially there was no religion in the USSR. In reality nobody was confused when people largely celebrated the Christian holiday of Easter.

Now religion in Russia is officially resolved. In reality the semi-official ROC position is considered defining. Moreover, views of non-religious people may be considered to be offensive for religious people.

Retirement benefit

In the USSR the level of retirement benefit was so big that grandparents usually financially helped their children and grandchildren. In Russia the level of retirement benefit can provide life of a pensioner if only he/she decreases the level of consumption or asks for the help of children and grandchildren.


Grushinsky festival of bard song

Grushinsky festival of bard song (annual festival has been established in 1968 and welcomed nearly 200 thousands of people), 1979. Photo by Vladimir Kryukov

The life in the USSR was not full of interesting events. But the so-called ‘kitchen’ art, in other words, poetic or musical evenings were flourishing as they were carried out right in kitchens. Sometimes these evenings were of a quite high level.

Now culture, especially the pop culture, has a mass character. But unlike the whole world, Russia is the only country where performers can lip-synch. Many of these “singers” have serious problems with live singing.

Women celebrating Maslenitsa festival (pancake week)

Women celebrating Maslenitsa festival (pancake week), 2012. Фотобанк Лори


In the USSR the opportunities to change the place of living, profession or anything else were quite limited. Such people were called job-hoppers and employers often tried to get rid of them. Everywhere across the USSR the situation was approximately the same, except the capital and the north region (people got extra charges for living in such conditions).

Now the most active people have the best opportunities. It is another matter that activity is often connected with risks of losing a business or even a real criminal prosecution at the commission of competitors.

Nevertheless enterprising people now have more opportunities than ever before!

Credit slavery

There was no such phenomenon as credit slavery in the USSR. Instead there were so-called cash desks of mutual aid. All employees contributed money and, in case of emergency, this money helped people who were in trouble.

In modern Russia many people live “on the loan”. Unlike other people, Russians did not get used to credits. Sometimes citizens take on a loan at tens and even hundreds of annual interest. Years will pass before people learn how to count credits properly and offers in the credit market will be really fair.

Nowhere to go

Restaurants and cafes were of deficiency in the USSR time. Some doors were closed for ordinary people.

Now there is no such problem, but the number of restaurants and cafes is still insufficient. Restaurants and cafes are not referred to as a daily phenomenon. Alongside with the Russian state of mind the low level of living and extremely high prices are responsible for this.

Peace and confidence in tomorrow

In the USSR people knew that one way or another all problems will be resolved. The problems were of rather emotional or spiritual matter than material.

Now no one is safe. People do not usually have enough time for serious emotional relations and soul searching. People spend time trying to achieve a particular level of the material well-being.


In the USSR travelling abroad without permission was almost impossible. People usually traveled to countries of the so-called socialist camp.

Trips to other counties usually had business character and Soviet citizens were always accompanied by specially trained people.

In modern Russia there are no problems with traveling abroad. Many countries of Europe and Asia annually welcome more than 1 million tourists from Russia. Some countries are visited by more than several millions of Russians. However, nowadays there is a certain category of citizens (several millions of people) who are not allowed to leave the country without permission.


In the USSR the concept of migration did not exist at all. If the USSR needed people for work in the north, it was called The Great Project, for example, the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline, or the state appropriated extra money, known as “northern money”. The population growth allowed the state to develop low-populated regions.

Modern Russia faced the reduction of the population and migrants from the surrounding countries completed the manpower.

Russia is the world’s second country in a number of migrants after the USA. Coming to Russia, migrants also brought a lot of problems with them.

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