In The Gunsight Of The KGB

My exposure to the postings here at Return of Kings and some of the travel threads at the Roosh V Forum have generated in me some interest in things Russian.  I have never visited the country.  My limited knowledge is confined to what books and films have conveyed.  But assuming we are reading the right books or seeing the right films, we can still learn a great deal about a culture from a vicarious distance.  I wanted to share my opinion of a book I recently read that might be of interest to the Russian enthusiasts here.  And it transcends its genre.  It is not just a great book about Russia, but a great book about a man’s endurance, survival, and rebirth.


In the Gunsight of the KGB is a memoir by Alexander Ushakov, written in the mid-1980s but not published until 1989.  It is his intensely personal account of his betrayal, arrest, show trial, and daring escape across the Soviet border with Turkey.  Ushakov writes with that uniquely Slavic blend of philosophic irony and brooding intensity that I find very appealing.  Besides being a compelling story, it also deserves much credit for predicting exactly the downfall of communism.  Ushakov’s impressions on his new life in America and American culture also make for great reading.  One wonders why this book is not more well known.

In the early 1980s, Ushakov was a tenured Marxist political theorist working in an adjunct role with the Soviet Navy.  He had actually gotten a Ph.D. in Marxism and had made it his life’s work, but he secretly despised the communist system and spent his nights writing manuscripts predicting the collapse of the communist regime in Russia.  Ushakov never published his writings, but a vindictive ex-wife discovered his passion and denounced him to the KGB.  It was a classic, heartbreaking betrayal, and Ushakov’s anguish and repressed rage from this unhealed wound runs like an electric current throughout the book.

Ushakov describes his arrest by two KGB goons with such passionate detail that the reader can almost see the unshaven mugs of the agents, and smell the vodka and sweat exuding from their pores:

A strange looking man entered the room.  He was short and fat, and wore a crumpled grayish suit and for some reason a large hat with the ear flaps turned up.  A tramp.  But his eyes were the most amazing part of his face.  One was simply crossed, very much so, but the other had moved so far to the side that you only saw the white part of the eye.  I knew it was merely a physical impairment, but…there was something hellish about it.  Did they recruit people like that on purpose, or did they simply join the KGB?

He was later brought before a kangaroo communist court and subjected to a humiliating inquest.  Ushakov openly defies the inquisitors, having nothing left to lose, and pours scorn on his accusers.  One gets the sense that, by the 1980s, even the communist nomenclatura had secretly begun to lose faith in the system; but the system still had the power physically to destroy lives, and Ushakov faced at least seven years in a gulag for his writings.  So he decided to act, against all the odds.


Released briefly pending the final phase of his trial, Ushakov knew he had only one choice:  to flee across the Soviet border (then heavily militarized) into Turkey and freedom.  To do this, he had to leave his new wife behind to face the fury of the KGB.  But Ushakov had no choice.  In words of wisdom that everyone thinking of starting a new life as an émigré should read, he says:

Is it worth it for all of us to leave Point A for Point B?  It is.  If life puts us in a situation where you have to take the first step from falsehood to the truth, from evil to good, from the devil to God—get up and go.  Go despite everything, go through fear of death, and even into the cross-hairs of a gunsight.  If you’re right, you will be saved by Providence, and then you’ll be able to go through the whole alphabet, from A to Z and beyond.

Ushakov secretly gathered some basic outdoor survival supplies to endure a trek across the Caucasus Mountains, and slipped away to the closest city he could reach near the Turkish border (Batumi).  From there he entered the wilderness of the mountains, and after many days of hiding by day and traveling by night (all described in harrowing detail), he found a way to enter Turkey, dodging a massive manhunt organized to capture him.  From there he traveled to Germany, and finally to the United States.


The Caucasus mountains near Batumi, Georgia, crossed by Alexander Ushakov in his escape from the KGB

There are some poignant and moving parts of the book in which Ushakov describes his starting a new life in northern Virginia, and his longing for his homeland.  He suffers the pangs of homesickness and guilt that all emigres suffer.  Only those who have been uprooted from their cultural environment will fully understand his sorrow, despite his gratification at having escaped persecution.  His attitude reminded me of the epitaph of St. Augustine, which read, “What makes the heart of the Christian heavy? The fact that he is a pilgrim, and longs for his own country.”  Ushakov would concur with this sentiment.

I found his impressions of American culture also to be worth mentioning.  Describing the prevalence of American obesity, he tells us:

Let’s begin with the diet.  American dogs, all of them, get special food.  There is more food here in general than anywhere else in the world.  And all kinds of food.  If you know where to buy ethnic foods, you can have any cuisine you want, quite inexpensively.  With such gastronomic temptations all around, it is hard to resist and not eat as much as you want, and you gain weight, and that’s why diets are so popular with Americans…Naturally, this is astonishing to a person from the land of socialism, where all sorts of foods disappear periodically…

Readers will be gratified to learn, in an epilogue published at the end of the book, that Ushakov was ultimately able to get his wife permission to join him in exile, after much effort and expense.

Part adventure story, part memoir, and part political treatise, this book defies easy categorization.  Anyone interested in Russian affairs will find it of great value, and anyone interested in tales of tragedy and triumph will find it inspiring and thought-provoking in equal measure.  As a historical record it is precious, but as a personal testament it is timeless.

Read More:  A Hero Of Our Time

91 thoughts on “In The Gunsight Of The KGB”

  1. I worked in Russia for 3 years, you will not be disappointed, every young American man should take a trip to Moscow if they can afford it.

  2. I’d like to know the opinion of ex-soviet citizens like him on the US becoming socialist. He has so much more lessons to impart.

    1. As a citizen of a former socialist country different from the USSR, I would be hesitant about generalizing “socialism”. That regime did not work anywhere, yet […] a person from the land of socialism, where all sorts of foods disappear periodically…] was far-fetched in most cases.

  3. “If life puts us in a situation where you have to take the first step from falsehood to the truth, from evil to good, from the devil to God—get up and go”

  4. WTF. Terrible article. I thought you people were red pill and yet you accept the falsities of what Western propaganda teaches you about the USSR. I was born there, I have lived there and now I live in the West. To be honest, life in the USSR was much superior to that currently, in the West. Much of the books written by dissidents/people who escaped from the Soviet regime are in fact not true and often embellished with falsehoods. Many Russians of the older generation know this. Rather than reading books supporting your current worldview, read books by people who had positive things to say about the Soviet regieme. Then read what was negative. Form your opinion objectively, but this will require leaving Western sources (because western sources don’t know shit about the USSR) and read Russian/Soviet sources, watch Soviet/Russian movies to get an idea about how things were during the USSR.
    Many of the dissidents that you read in the West, had secret ties to Western intelligence agencies whose goal it was to hurt the Soviet Union internally. The CIA/MI-6 did not send their own agents into the USSR very often because they had the tendency to get caught very fast so it was much easier to hire people within the Soviet Union to spread dissent amongst the population.
    Let me describe life to you, as it was back then. There were no ghettos/poor areas and so one could walk down the streets safely at any time of day/night without fear of getting killed/mugged/raped. If anything like that happened, the police would respond very quickly, and generally catch any and all perpetrators (hence the USSR had the lowest crime rates in the world). There were no drugs and a healthy lifestyle was encouraged. In fact, kids would have mandatory gym training sessions where they would learn the basics of light athletics (cross country running, skiing, swimming, soccer, boxing, etc) and heavy athletics (weight lifting, wrestling, etc). All kids had to do it and graduation from school depended on it. Kids were told to read as much as possible and they didn’t just read random shit, but classical literature from around the world, beginning with Russian literature and ending with German, French, Arab, English authors. Furthermore, even in the workplace physical excersise was heavily encouraged and in some places you could be fired if you did not pass minimum physical requirements (ie doctors).
    The job that you obtained depended entirely on you. If you studied hard, got amazing grades in high school/university you got the top pick of a multitude of jobs/professions and people below you would get what is left over (not much different from the West, if you think about it). Those who complained about being paid the same as everyone else where common labourers, and to be honest it is their fault for being paid the same as everyone else, they should have studied harder in school because almost anyone could become anything if they set their mind to it.
    Furthemore, school went from 8:00 AM to 1:00PM (13:00 in Soviet Time – they did not use AM and PM denominations) for the younger grades, because it was thought that it was important for kids to have social time and time to play at home and amongst their peers/do sports/etc. For older grades school went from 8:00-3:00 but students did not study all day long like they do in the West because the education system was continuous from Elementary school, high school, university. A solid foundation was given and then built upon in subsequent years meaning that less studying/cramming had to be done in one period of time and the information was learned over a longer time period meaning the students knew it better. That was the secret to Soviet successes in Math/Science Olympiads.
    There was little restriction to Western films, everyone knew James Bond, Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott.
    Soviet films were about life and didn’t have the unecessary violence that modern American/Western films have, they sought to show an idea/demonstrate something about life. Men were taught to be men and if you did not act like a man you would be looked down upon in society. There is a saying that a man needs to be able to do everything because he has a duty to his country/family. A woman was encouraged to be feminine (the USSR was one of the first countries in the world to give equal rights to women) and take of their family –> family came before a career for women and many women identified with this idea. There was none of that feminist crap there.
    Soviets had science superior to that of the United States in many aspects. For example, Soviet olympic runners would warm up with pylometrics before a run whilst American athletes would warm up with static stretches. Pylometrics was later implemented into the training of American runners. Same with with Soviet military doctrine was implemented into the American military in the 1980’s.
    So please, don’t give me shit or try to convince me how terrible life was in the Soviet Union. I have lived there. And I can tell you, it wasn’t. It had both good and bad, just like everywhere else, but it was predominantly good. I am disappointed in Red pillers, I thought you guys would be more objective…..

    1. Sir:
      Thank you for your opinion.
      I do not doubt that life for the average Soviet citizen was more stable, regular, and secure than it is today. You could say the same thing about life in East Germany, or, for that matter, in Asad´s Syria of the 1980s.
      But that stability and security came with a price. Freedom of expression was repressed, economic activity was stifled, and anyone who questioned the regime was thrown in jail or put in an asylum. Are you going to deny this? Perhaps you or your family was a member of the nomenclatura and benefitted from the system at the expense of others. No matter how you slice and dice it, the Soviet Union was a communist dictatorship, where morality and religion were repressed and replaced by worship of the false gods of the state.
      So don´t speak to me about so-called stability: yours was the peace and stability of the graveyard. If you loved the Soviet system so much, why aren´t you back there now to make your fortune?
      In any case, the issue here is one man´s book, one man´s experience. Not your political opinions. You have not pointed to one thing in Mr. Ushakov´s book that was false or “propaganda.” Until you can do that, I do not take your opinions seriously.

      1. Sir, with all due respect but you are merely repeating what you have been taught in the West. My father was a labourer and mother a school teacher.
        Freedom of expression? What expression do you speak of? Films critiquing the soviet state, where constantly being filmed and approved and put into mainstream media. The economy of the USSR was growing faster than that of the United States (to the extent that at one point in the 70’s the United States government was afraid that the USSR would surpass the US in economic development by 1995), the economy was constantly being optimized and the regional beareaucrats sent out fliers by mail every 6 months to see what the people thought about the laws, what should be changed, economic conditions in the area, if any new factories should be opened, etc. There were even offices you could go to if a beauracrat offended you, if you thought laws were unjust, and sign a paper/petition. If enough people complained the beauracrat would be replaced or the laws changed. There was art that made fun of the current leaders posted on bulletin boards, people had their own Rock and music bands. Sure there was no liberal party but that wasn’t needed. People were much more intellegent on average because they were more educated/well read and it is harder to supress/oppress an intellegent population that knows what’s going on.
        Who cares if it was a dictatorship? Sure you had one man in power, but is it any different in the States? The people elected regional beareaucrats who then elected people for provincial posts who then elected people to sit as the secretary of state. The USSR had a parliament too through which the General secretary (the dictator had to pass bills and if approved they would then be implemented into law, he had the right of veto only in certain situations). In the States, it is not even the people doing the election of the President but the electoral colleges. If who the people elect is different from whom the electoral colleges elect you get the President whom the electoral colleges elected. Example, the George Bush and Al Gore presenditial race where the overwhelming vote from people was for Al Gore but the electoral colleges chose Bush. Yours seems like a democratic system.
        People who committed crimes went to the Gulag. I do not consider the Gulag morally reprehensible. Why have taxpayers pay to sustain thieves, murderers, rapists, traitors in prisons where they get free TV, food, gym, excersise, etc. It is more just I think, to work and do some good for society and earn their own sustenance.
        What shortages do you speak of? Everyone who wanted food could get it. There were no people living on the streets or starving. You could get fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, fish, nuts, chocolates, ice creams, cakes, grains, etc at the local supermarket. Sure you may have had to wait in line but few people minded because the food was actually tasty, healthy. People did not have a choice in 50 different cereals or in 50 different pizzas, but the foods were healthier. The shortages only began shortly after (the great reformer) Gorbachev came to power in 1986, when his programs of Glasnost and Perestroika began ruining the economy by giving his cronies factories, farms, etc meaning the supply lines and production facilities that (for example) delivered food to people began to get screwed up. None of that existed before Gorbachev.
        Hahaha, repression of what minorities? In the Soviet Union there was no concept of minorities or majorities. The Soviet Union consisted of 15 republics of various religions, ethnic beliefs, cultural beliefs, languages, etc. Within each republic there were many different ethnicities, so altogether there were maybe a couple hundered different ethnicities, languages, cultures. They were all respected. You did not have segragation of blacks like they did in the States in the 60’s, there was no discrimination against women, it did not matter if you were Uzbek, Kazak, Tajik, Russian, Ukrainian, Georgian, etc you had access to the same resources you, could freely go to study/live in/visit to Moscow or Tashkent, Odessa or Talinn, Tbilisi or Leningrad. Most school children in the Soviet Union could name the 50 American States. Can you name the 15 Soviet Republics without looking at the internet? So much for repression.
        I did not leave the Soviet Union, I left after it collpased.
        Ok as for Mr. Ushakov’s experiences. First of all, there are reports of him having had contact with the US Embassy and therefore likely been recruited as a dissident. Furthermore, yes, writing treatsies about how to overthrow the Soviet government would have landed you in prison but if I started doing the same thing in the States, or even stating what the US government is doing would land me in prison as well (*cough* edward snowden *cough*).
        “Escaping” from the USSR wasn’t actually that difficult. You didn’t need to run away across the border, across the carpathian mountains avoiding Manhunts. I have plenty of friends who emigrated from the Soviet Union to Isreal, to Italy and to the States without problems in the 60’s and 70’s. They just needed to get an immigration visa and emigration visa. The Soviet government did not much care for normal citizens leaving (citizens not part of the military, government or the holders of state secrets — same thing as in the States). Ushakov was neither of those. So I have to call BS.
        Finally, if he was a holder of military/state secrets the Soviet government would not have ever allowed his wife to join him in exile and he would have probably been killed even in the States. There were certain diplomats and military leaders who escaped with states secrets that were killed in the States by the KGB. The KGB/Soviet government did not care about normal citizens leaving.
        You are just repeating Western propaganda. Give me facts, I have given you many not only from personal experience but from information freely available in books and the internet. It is impossible to take the opinions of someone who has never lived in both the USSR and the West to. seriously who only quotes American propaganda. Until you give me facts and sources that counter anything i’ve said, it is impossible to take your opinions seriously.

        1. My mistake, I just realized I wrote “Carpathian Mountains”. It should be “Caucasus Mountains”.

        2. I was born in Czechoslovakia. This guy here is totally living in his dream world.
          I remember a class in elementary school where we were told a story about a good pioneer. Why was he good? Because despite the love for his parents he ratted them out for their capitalist views.
          Do you know what I imagine when I see a tangerine? I have a warm fuzzy feeling of Christmas. Because you could buy them only on Christmas.
          You are either a troll, didn’t live enough before 1989 or stupid.

        3. Czechoslovakia and USSR is entirely two different worlds. The Soviets did not give a shit about their satellite states and thus did not spend money building them up, so therefore life was alot worse in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, etc.
          As for Tangerines, they were plentiful in warm places and were exported by various republics such as Georgia or Azerbaijan throughout the Soviet Union.

        4. Yep. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was lying/embellishing/was an idiot. Don’t forget his anti-American rhetoric when he came to the States.

        5. Calling a russian national hero a liar proves you’re either a troll or just an absolute retard. You probably hate Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy as well. They really did a number on you comrade. Soldier on! Oh wait, your beloved empire is over and done with.
          No more starving peasants to death, raping women and children. You must be dumbfounded with all the free time on your hands!
          And Solzhenitsyn’s anti american “rhetoric” was spot on. Every red pill man should be familiar with this great man. Could start by reading the speech he gave at harvard in the 70’s which is likely what Stalin jr here is referring to.

        6. I like how you speak for Russians, calling Solzhenitsyn “a national hero”. If you said that in Russia, you’d be killed.

        7. Soviet Man, thanks for sharing your perspective. There’s a lot of work to be done, re-writing the history of the 20th century, once we discard the lies and half-truths that pass for conventional wisdom today.
          I think you’re idealizing 70s/80s Soviet Russia a bit, but I’m open to being proven wrong. Which trustworthy books or other sources would you recommend I look at to confirm your view?
          Also, what’s your view of Solzhenitsyn? CIA pawn as well? I’m afraid that’s going to be a hard argument to convince me of.

        8. Say, you would’nt perhaps be a member of a certain tribe who refers to everyone else as goyim would you?
          Perhaps you are mad about Solzhenitsyn’s book 200 Years Together?

        9. You seem rather angry and basically just repeated what you first said without rebutting Quintus.
          Also, the 70’s was a time of economic distress in the U.S.- the oil shortages, stagflation, and a period of rising crime. Using that as an example of comparative Soviet economic prowess vis a vis the U.S. is ill-advised.
          “Overwhelming vote for Al Gore?”
          The race was extremely close. Al Gore only won the popular vote by 500,000 votes. The Electoral College is generally won by popular vote as well. I agree the system as it currently is is bad, but your example is actually a very large outlier.
          Your entire post basically amounts to an ad-hominem attack and ignorance of facts, while possibly privileging your own experiences. While I don’t doubt that there’s quite a bit of bullshit going around about the Soviet Union, your are pushing quite a bit of bullshit yourself.

        10. I wasn’t really repeating just stating facts from a different perspective. When did I use ad hominem attacks?
          Outliers or not I don’t think it matters, it shows what can happen in the system. Why have electoral colleges, if not to ensure that a President suitable for the ruling party is chosen. Imagine if the people voted (for whatever reason) for a Communist/socialist President. The electoral colleges are to prevent this from occuring.
          What bullshit am I pushing? Please enlighten me?
          As regards to Solzhenitsyn, he wasn’t a CIA pawn, but he had roots going back to the Russian aristocracy and hence his dislike for the Soviets and the fact that he loved Russia under the Tzar (albeit he never lived under him).
          Here are some trustworthy (in my opinion books):

          –>Analysis from a marxist-leninst perspective

          –> A non socialist analysis. Kotz describes the errors of perestroika.

          –> An economic analysis which incorporates first hand accounts of managers on the ground which describe how the planned economic was ripped to pieces in 1987 and 1988 and how a market economy failed to form leading to subsequent unrest.
          Finally, Sam Marcy’s analysis:

        11. There was much wrong with the USSR (The beginning of the 80’s wasn’t bad but then Gorbachev came to power and the latter half of the 80’s was bad) but there was much good too. My goal is to represent that which was good, so you guys can form your own opinion not related to mainstream media.
          If you guys want Ill write a post about what was wrong with the Soviet Union, and what I think brought about the collapse of the USSR. But Ill do that a bit later.

        12. ‘The Sacrifice’ (Chernobyl Liquidators)

          As Gorbachev wrote in 2006:
          “The nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl 20 years ago this month, even more than my launch of perestroika, was perhaps the real cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union five years later. Indeed, the Chernobyl catastrophe was an historic turning point: there was the era before the disaster, and there is the very different era that has followed.
          The Chernobyl disaster, more than anything else, opened the possibility of much greater freedom of expression, to the point that the system as we knew it could no longer continue. It made absolutely clear how important it was to continue the policy of glasnost, and I must say that I started to think about time in terms of pre-Chernobyl and post-Chernobyl.
          The price of the Chernobyl catastrophe was overwhelming, not only in human terms, but also economically. Even today, the legacy of Chernobyl affects the economies of Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.”

        13. “Do you know what I imagine when I see a tangerine? I have a warm fuzzy
          feeling of Christmas. Because you could buy them only on Christmas.”
          That’s how I feel seeing lychee in the States – like once a year. And durian? Durian anyone? I can’t even make raw durian cakes for my own birthday anymore.

        14. Well, here is what was wrong, in my opinion. There are many parallels that I am currently seeing in the United States and the West. Maybe the West is mimicing a similar trajectory to the USSR? Are there patterns?
          1. The government wasn’t always truthful with it’s citizens (it’s not that it lied but presented many things as half truths) misrepresenting facts about the West, causing the population to stop believing much of what was said by the government. Suprisingly, it was later discovered (especially later) that the government had not lied about a great many things.
          2. This I think is the biggest issue. The Soviet Union was always afraid of an attack from the West (its natural for a country that had undergone total war 3 times in 150 years) and so devoted almost its entire industrial and scientific output to developing the military to the neglect of consumer goods. In the late 70’s and until the fall, you had a sub culture of young people who would obtain Western products: jeans, vinyl CD’s, etc from people that had been to the West and knew many Western movies, the top pop and rock hits of those times throughout Europe. At first this was cenosred by the State, then it stopped caring because it could not provide alternatives. However, this consumerism went to the extent that young people started forgetting the ideals of the country, sacrificing it for jeans and nice clothing. Young people watched legal and illegal Hollywood movies and saw a glamorous lifestyle that they also wanted, and started blaming the government for corruption legitametly and illegitemately. This may have been one of the causes of later social unrest. Much of this began occuring after Gorbachev came to power and introduced glasnost and perestroika, tearing the economy apart.
          Many people lived in shitty houses Krushchevkas that all looked the same, were small and a washroom could have been shared between three families. But it was all free, and people did not live in squalor nor filth, just smal living spaces. This all applies to limited consumer goods.
          3. It was very difficult to remove a general secretary, especially if his surrounding was filled with people who agreed with him and gave him the constitutional right to ignore parliament.
          4. Due to their superior education, people wanted better for themselves and thus questioned everything the state said and it became popular to hate on the government for no reason.
          That’s all I can think of at the moment. If I think of more I’ll expand the list.

        15. “In the late 70’s and until the fall, you had a sub culture of young
          people who would obtain Western products: jeans, vinyl CD’s, etc from
          people that had been to the West and knew many Western movies, the top
          pop and rock hits of those times throughout Europe.”
          – Oh dear. Western civilizaaaaaaaaaaation is the end and the fall of every cultured civilization it touches.
          And jeans? They’ve got to be the ugliest piece of clothing ever designed.
          “However, this consumerism went to the extent that
          young people started forgetting the ideals of the country, sacrificing
          it for jeans and nice clothing.”
          – Like I said, ugly, trashy, cultureless crap from ‘Murica ruins everything and everyone it touches.
          American consumerism (oops sorry innovaaaaaaaation) is a destroyer of genuine civilization the world over.
          “Young people watched legal and illegal
          Hollywood movies and saw a glamorous lifestyle that they also wanted,
          and started blaming the government for corruption legitametly and
          – LOL!!!! What idiots.
          Well one thing improved. Now people the world over can watch ‘Murican TV with their satellite dishes, and instead of “glamour” they get Jerry Springer, Maury Povich, Honey Boo Boo, and countless other reality shows and thus get exposed to what ‘Murica is REALLY life.

        16. Soviet man (homo sovieticus):
          I am actually glad you chose to post your real feelings here for all to see.
          For now we see the true face of privilege, arrogance, and myopia.
          It is obvious from your comments that you or your family was either a member of the nomenklatura, or a party hack, or an apparatchik, or a communist stooge. Or you could be a troll.
          No one criticizes the US culture as much as I do, with great bitterness and vehemence at times. But no one is going to tell me that the old Soviet system was great and gave a great legacy to humanity.
          Was your grandfather a NKVD member, Soviet man? Was his father a Chekist murderer, who helped impose an alien, Bolshevist, bloodsucking system on the great Russian people? Maybe your family was a rats nest of informers for the NKVD. I wonder how much blood they have on their hands. Why don´t you reflect on that.
          You make the wildest accusations against the author of this book, with no attempt to prove anything. What evidence do you have that Ushakov was an “agent”? You have nothing.
          In fact, his testimony matches that of the memoirs of Viktor Suvorov, who wrote a great book called “Inside the Soviet Army”.
          The communist system was an unmitigated disaster for the Russian people and all the other ethnicities in the Soviet Union. It destroyed their souls, took away their identities, removed the underpinnings of morality by destroying the Orthodox church, destroyed the environment, ruined the economy, ruined the environment, and killed uncounted millions.
          It was one of the 3 great disasters to befall Russia, after the Mongol invasions and the German invasion.

        17. You are correct. My conversations with Czechs have confirmed how unpleasant life was under the Soviet regime. Homo sovieticus needs to see the movie “The Lives of Others” to see what life was like in East Germany in the 1980s.

        18. Quintus, read some Russian historians and you will see that the author of this book is a liar. I can recommend some books to you (in Russian).
          Also, I love how you speak for the Russian/Ukrainian people and claim that the USSR was an “unmitigated disaster” for the Russian people. Fun fact, did you know that around 70% of Russians/Ukrainians, 80% of Uzbeks and 50-51% of Tajiks want the return of the USSR? To them the loss of the USSR was an unmitigated disaster.
          All your post is, is one giant ad hominem attack and you make no effort to refute my statements, repeating either what you said before or what was taught in high school.
          Sure the USSR had its dark moments, but so does every nation. What the USSR did though was, in the majority, good for the people. When the Bolsheviks came around only around 15-20% of the country was literate, the rest lived on farms. Russia did not have roads outside Moscow and St petersburg and kiev. The most advanced technology in the USSR was a plow and the people lived in squalor and filth. The Soviets gave the people a free education making the USSR one of the most literate nations on earth, empancipated women giving them equal opportunities in 1918 (way before that was done in the States), people recieved free food and shelters, the people got an idea to live for (just read some Western accounts of Communism in the 1930’s before the Cold war –> they were overwhelmingly positive), the country was built up from nothing to being one of the most powerful nations on earth, the standard of living skyrocketed from people living in mud huts to living in high rise buildings, with large and spacious rooms, that were heated. Yes, clearly, the USSR was a terrible time for its people.

        19. East Germany and the USSR might as well be two different planets. I have never lived in East Germany or Czechoslovakia so I can’t say. However, from those I have spoken to they say it wasn’t too bad and they tell me that they mostly tell westerners it was bad to fit in.

        20. Like how the USA and Afghanistan and the USA and Iraq might as well be two different planets. Life for the average American living in the States is not as bad as life for the average Iraqi or Afghani living under the US regime.

        21. Life for the average American living in the States is not as bad as life for the average Iraqi or Afghani living under the US regime.

        22. “Solzhenitsyn’s assumption that he would become a prophet upon his return to Russia did not play well with the public. My impression is that he was widely considered a relic of the past. For this reason, his television program, “A Meeting with Solzhenitsyn,” attracted so small of an audience that it had to be canceled. His October 1994 speech to the State Duma was tepidly received, as was his ambitious historical novel,
          “The Red Wheel.”
          – Writing in the Moscow Times Russia scholar Richard Pipes exposes the fraud that was Alexander Solzhenitsyn

        23. Soviet Man:
          You are starting to intrigue me.
          I would definitely ask you to submit a guest post to ROK on the real reasons for the USSR’s fall. As long as it is well reasoned and rational, we are open-minded here and willing to consider different perspectives. I actually would love that. The media already calls us misogynists and every other bad name, so having a die-hard communist for good measure wouldn’t matter much, I suppose. What the hell….

    2. “….warm up with pylometrics before a run..”
      This is true. The first time I went to a soccer game in Africa (study abroad in Madagascar), I was befuddled by the “bizarre” warm ups the teams was doing. I only knew about “static” stretches. The subtle Soviet” influence on Africa/Middle East added to the strangeness of the region for Americans to visit, but it also opened my eyes to new non-western ways of thinking. I was such a typical American close-minded dork back then I wince at the memories, but hey, at least I took the first step and traveled. I actually chose Madagascar cuz I didn’t want to run into other American college students doing their study abroad thing.

    3. “Many of the dissidents that you read in the West, had secret ties to
      Western intelligence agencies whose goal it was to hurt the Soviet Union
      – That’s the first thing I thought when I read, “He had actually gotten a Ph.D. in Marxism and had made it his life’s work, but he secretly despised the communist system and spent his nights writing manuscripts predicting the collapse of the communist regime in Russia.”
      Basically planted by they Yanks, taking notes for them that he disguised as a “book” and called his “passion”.
      ” Furthermore, even in the workplace physical excersise was heavily
      encouraged and in some places you could be fired if you did not pass
      minimum physical requirements (ie doctors).”
      – Great idea! The doctors in the USA are fat asses that eat genetically engineered frankenfood (Yellow Number 5, what?) just like their patients (hello hospital food – jello? seriously?). And they are supposed to be “health experts” and “healers”? They don’t know squat about nutrition or healthy, balanced living!
      “Kids were told to read as much as possible and they didn’t just read
      random shit, but classical literature from around the world, beginning
      with Russian literature and ending with German, French, Arab, English
      – Russians have always had the reputation of being intellectually adept. Americans? What’s the reputation of Americans?

      1. Read, I did not write that they were “spies” whose goal was to pass classified information to foreign intellegence agencies. I said that the “…whose goal it was to hurt the Soviet Union internally”. This could mean either passing classified information to the West (those who had access to it) or it could be disseminating anti-Soviet propaganda, raising anti-Soviet feeling, writing anti-Soviet rhetoric, etc. When I say he had ties, I mean that the CIA could pay him money in return for him spreading anti-Soviet sentiment and it could also easily be something he enjoys….

  5. As much as I respect roosh, I enjoy your book review much more more then any of his. Just don’t make it a habit uke he did.

  6. Soviet_Man, are you kidding? I also lived in the USSR and none of what you say is true. I think America is dead and the culture and values are horrendous, but what you describe just was not the case. Yes, everyone had food, and an apartment with a balkon. Some had dachas which took 10 years to build. But that “line?” – 3 hours in the snow… for coupons to buy sugar. The defense budget and Afghanistan ate up the USSR’s resources. 80% if the country lived in Khruschevkas – better than tenements but worse than Chinatown. This bureacrat that got replaced – never happened. The only thing you could do is say you had a child… then maybe the plumber would come as Russians respect children. I remember the USSR warmly, but for the family and the values – not anything material. Don’t lie to the stupid Americans, please.

    1. I only remember waiting in line a few times in my life for food for more than 30 minutes and that was in the 80’s when Gorbachev began glasnost’ and perestroika and essentially tore apart the economy. So naturally there was no food. Before that is not the case, you probably remember that from the 80’s.
      Again, the 80’s are a poor representation of what the Soviet union was like. Afghanistan was sustainable and only ate into the countries resources only when Gorbachev came with his “reforms”. Before that it wasn’t too bad. Furthermore, if the Soviets managed to implement computerized planned economy it would have outproduced any other nation on earth. Read this article on cybernetics and Glushkov’s plans to computerize the economy.
      You’re right, kruschevka’s and lack of mass produced consumer goods was a large problem in the USSR, the one that arguable led to its collapse.
      I dunno where you lived, but beaureaucrats were frequently replaced where i lived, at the slightest complaint.
      Material things aren’t that important as long as you have things necessary for survival. In America you have alot of material things, but a total breakdown of social values.

      1. I don’t think Soviet Man ever lived under communism. Everybody I have ever met who lived in a communist regime told me it was horrible. I have met people who lived under communism before the 1980’s too.

        1. It depends on who you ask. Go to Russia and ask around, ask a “muzhik” from a village and he’ll tell you he liked it. Ask the rich intellegentsia and they’ll tell you they hate it.
          Often times in the west, many Russians won’t admit to liking the Soviet regime because they want to fit in with their social environment. I’ve told my kids to not say anything good about the Soviet Union around strangers due to the controversial nature of it. So have many of my friends.

        2. Yep. Because 1. It wasn’t Stalin ordering or doing the killings, its just he couldn’t do much to stop them. 2. Some revisionist historians have estimated that 300,00 to 800,000 people were killed in purges. Not millions. That’s just ridiculous for a country on the brink of war (the Soviet government figured they’d have to fight Germany sooner rather than later, but didn’t know exactly when) trying to rapidly industrialize.

        3. lol are you Grover Furr? Or one of his students? REVISIONIST historians, meaning, they are making that up to fit their ideology. Guaranteed this guy denies the Holodomor as well. People look up the Holodomor, Stalin’s purges, the black book of communism, read everything you can and come to your own conclusions. My conclusion? Soviet Man is an ideological communist, who, never lived under communism.

        4. Please feel free to eat shit, fuck off and die. Lying scumbag.
          As someone whose family suffered immensely under Russian occupation, I’d revise your history to be much shorter, with an AK-47 round to the back of the head.

        5. Hmm. I asked my mother and people from her generation, they say that there was no Holodomor as the ENTIRE country starved due to Stalin’s poorly implemented kolkhoz programs. Stalin did not give a shit about Ukraine proclaiming their independence, they did that all the time. Look up Stepan Bandera and his movement.
          When I say “revisionist” i mean historians who have looked at history again and have found evidence that does not support popular history.
          I like how you consider yourself a red pill man and yet you refuse to entertain the possibility that mainstream media is wrong about Soviet history. There is so much resistance to new ideas on this site, I’m surprised that you people call yourself “red pill”. I do not want people to accept my word for gospel, I want them to open their minds and accept that perhaps much of what they have learned about the USSR is false. Feel free to research whatever you like about what I’ve said.

        6. korbendalls, why are you having a conversation with yourself? Are you aware that your moniker and who you are replying to is the same? You’re not the only one to do this faux blog fight type of thing with your own self on this blog but we can see the monikers are both “korbendalls”.

        7. I haven’t “refused to entertain” your viewpoint. I’ve read both sides. Concerning history, I believe much of what the “mainstream” teaches is false. On the death toll of communism, their is a lot of solid research that suggests your revisionism is wrong and fueled only by an ideological ferocity to defend your precious marxism. Communism is an evil ideology that has killed and enslaved millions. I’ll take liberty and the problems it entails over total submission to central planners any day.

        8. I was under the impression I was having a conversation with Soviet Man. I swear on my life I wasn’t replying to myself. Not sure what your talking about.

        9. “I like how you consider yourself a red pill man and yet you refuse to
          entertain the possibility that mainstream media is wrong about Soviet
          history. There is so much resistance to new ideas on this site, I’m
          surprised that you people call yourself “red pill”.”
          Haven’t you heard? Today’s red pill is 1950s blue pill.
          Work your sorry ass off to build the “American dream” so “heroes” like Henry Ford and other elites can make billions of dollars off the sweat of your brow
          Eat your canned food sitting in toxic, carcinogenic tin (became mass produced and massively eaten in the 50s
          Put your newborn babies in a caged apparatus in a separate room because they should learn independence from the earliest stages of life and besides, you yourself don’t want to get too attached to them, now do you?
          Stand in line and pay money to watch government and corporate brainwashing propaganda out of Hollywood call “movies”
          People who say anything nice about a foreign country and anything critical about the US are to be put on J.Edgar Hoover’s black list
          Believe what the man on the TV tells you about the world and how Americans are “manifesting destiny” and everyone else is a heathen and/or evil commie
          Christianity is the only way, the ONLY WAY I tell you and we must convert the world!!!
          And you can’t marry someone if his or her skin color isn’t a match to yours because….. THE GUBMINT SAYS SO!
          The clowns at this site herald the 1950s as some sort of golden age of freedom in ‘Murica.
          These clowns are as conformist, blue pill and American-as-apple-pie as you can get.

        10. I dont see that. I might be replying wrong, but I am not Soviet Man if that’s what your accusing me of. And if you really are just nitpicking me for not signing in correctly or something fuck off.

        11. Are you from the balkans? Because the balkans invited the Soviet Union in themselves. But I digress. I’m sure having free food, free education, free housing caused your family to suffer immensely. Mine did too. Oh and millions of people in Eastern Europe have suffered from Democracy and Capitalism, doesn’t mean I want to shoot the Americans for bringing it there. When a person knows they have been defeated in debate they resort to ad hominem attacks.
          As for the purges, they happened shortly after Stalin came to power. But his power wasn’t absolute. Far from it in fact. Stalin had taken control from a Leninist establishment, men who sought “revolution in the entire world” and did not give two shits about Russia and the USSR. For them the USSR was merely a stepping stone to greater things. Stalin held a more tempered, moderate position on world revolution. He sought to abandon world revolution, for industralization of the USSR because he figured war with Europe and especially Germany was inevitable (especially after Hitler wrote Mein Kampf and came to power). He stated numerous times that the USSR was 50 years behind, in terms of development, from the rest of Europe and they had 10 maybe 15 years to catch up or be crushed. However, his was an unpopular position within the Soviet ruling elite and being too vocal about his beliefs would have resulted in his being thrown from power and killed. Stalin sought a peaceful resolution to the problem, and yet certain commissars and officers of the Cheka, loyal to Stalin, took it upon themselves to capture and shoot the Lenininst elements in the government. Stalin couldn’t stop this and it spiralled out of control resulting in around 300,000 to 800,000 deaths.

        12. What the heck? Why so hostile? Now you sound like the person who wrote,
          “Please feel free to eat shit, fuck off and die. Lying scumbag.
          As someone whose family suffered immensely under Russian occupation, I’d revise your history to be much shorter, with an AK-47 round to the back of the head.”
          And now I’m confused because on my pc screen the name “korbendalls” is coming up in front of ALL of the comments in this conversation thread (except for mine), with an arrow showing that korbendalls replied to korbendalls, not to soviet man.
          If your screen shows soviet man for all his comments, then I don’t know why my screen is showing your name for both his and yours.

        13. i was being hostile because you are accusing me of fabricating a conversation. Look, on mine it shows im replying to soviet man. I am not anyone else..just korbendallas.

        14. Now this comment says “random reader” where just a bit ago it said “korbendalls”.
          Either something fishy is going on here with sock puppets or my pc is really effed up.
          And now there’s a korbendallas (with an “a” at the end as in Dallas Texas) in gray instead of korbendalls in red? What gives?

        15. Who was behind the purges then? What happened to millions of Ukrainians during the famine of 1932-1933? What became of millions during ethnic deportations?
          Your posts about life in the Soviet Union are interesting, when you draw it from your own life experiences. To assert that Stalin didn’t kill millions is silly.

        16. Your claim regarding the Holodomor is a joke. I’m sure that the Turks who lived in İzmir after 1925 or so would tell you that there were never any Greeks or Armenians in their city.
          The Soviet archives demonstrate that there was a huge population disturbance around the time of the Famine, and at least 3.3 million people starved to death.

        17. I posted 2 comments (this is the 3rd) on this thread.
          If I sound pissed, it’s because I am. The Soviet Union was a grim police state, as detailed by Kafka and many others. The ‘Soviet Man’ is delusional, and his ‘history’ revisionist bullshit. My family was directly oppressed in brutal fashion by this system.
          So I don’t think my comment is out of line. He is.
          I think some Russians romanticize that era, as it may seem better, in retrospect, to what happened afterwards. But that is misplaced nostalgia for what was a living nightmare for millions of others.
          Your problem with the commenter names is a Disqus issue, reload the page, it should go away. Disqus is crap, has been for years.

        18. Except it wasn’t a grim police state. My experience and those of millions of others says otherwise. Families were raised, grew up, got jobs, made families and were happy under the Soviet times. The Czech are unhappy because they were not free to pursue decadance.
          Life in the USSR was much different from life in satellite states. In Czechoslovakia you had crazy ass party apparatchiks that tried to hard to kiss ass.

        19. Read another post describing the “killings” and the purges.
          I am Ukrainian and there was no “holodomor”. Amongst Ukraininans you can get different views depending upon whom you ask. Objectively though, there was no mass killings of Ukrainians, what there was was mass deaths throughout the USSR because of starvation due to Stalin’s poorly implemented kolkhoz program, a drought which caused a reduction in crop prodcution (the famine corresponded with the American dustbowl in the midwest). Holodomor is an invention of Ukrainian nationalists (west Ukrainians — poles) to justify ukrainian independence (for if ukraine was not bullied by russia, then that means things were not as bad meaning that the current government has little legitimacy).
          As for deportations, they brought peace and stability in the Caucuses. When you bring a bunch of Chechens together you get Beslan school shootings (look it up), Boston bombings, terrorist attacks, etc. For Russia/USSR the Caucasus has always been a security problem and if they could have solved the problem through talking, and being nice, they would.

        20. Also, its funny how everyone hates on the Soviets for occupying a few countries and yet ignore how the paragon of freedom and democracy, America, overthrew democratic regimes in Iran in ’57, south america, iraq and cambodia, etc. Democracy and capitalism destroyed the lives of billions of people (just look at the middle east and iraq), millions die everyday because they can’t afford a piece of bread, millions more toil in sweat shops under terrible duress to supply you with your jeans and T shirts. I don’t know what is worse, forcing criminals to work in gulags or forcing children to work with no food, water, with constant beatings to make T shirts for rich Westerners who complain about not having T shirts to buy in Czechoslovakia under communist rule.

        21. What do Turks and Armenian genocides have to do with the Holodomor?
          As regards to a population disturbance. Yeah, there was one, throughout the entirety of the USSR ranging from Ukraine, to the Volga river (maybe further), south to belarus. Most of the deaths happened in the RFSR not just in the Ukraine.

        22. This is just insanity. You need to read more of your own history. Stalin was an animal, and vanished millions in prison camps, starved the Ukraine to the point of extermination, and basically killed anyone who looked at him the wrong way.

        23. I am willing to concede to you that American propaganda has made the Soviet system out to be far more aggressive than it really was. That much is true. In practice, the Soviet leaders never really engaged in the kind of foreign adventurism that the US did.
          But domestically, there is just no way you can legitimately claim that communism was a good system to live under. The people paid a very, very high price for the alleged “benefits” you are talking about.
          I understand that there are many sides to history, but I have looked at this issue from many sides and always come back to the same conclusion: yes, absolutely, the US exaggerated the “threat” of communism for its own purposes.
          But that is NOT the issue here. We are talking here about the dictatorship´s effect on the people. Not foreign policy.

        24. Quintus, did you not read anything that I wrote? Is it that difficult to accept that maybe, just maybe, what you were taught in high school is wrong?
          I’ve read my own history. Yes there were purges during Stalin’s times. No they weren’t in the millions. No millions did not go to prison camps. And no poor ukrainians were not starved, the entire country did.

          As a Ukrainian, I do not buy the BS that Holodomor was an attack on ukrainian nationalism. Re read and think carefully about what I wrote.
          Many of the pictures you see that are claimed to be pictures of people starving under the “Holdomor” are in fact pictures from the 1920 – 1921 polvolzhye famine, and are used by Western propoganda to show the horrors of the “holodomor”.
          Finally, it is unfair to judge a state during only small period of its history. Playing by your rules I will say that America is a genocidal state that kills its own citizens, enslaves the natives living on its land, steals their land/resources and subjugates them to compounds from which it is difficult to leave. Also, America is such a progressive state in that it oppressed women, put the Japanese into concentration camps, and made children work in sweat shops.
          How does the above sound? Accurate?

        25. Yes, I did read your comments. All of them. It is just that I find it odd that what you are saying contradicts every single thing I have read and heard.
          So, you are asking me to believe that the entire corpus of historiography on the Soviet era is misleading or incorrect?
          This just doesn´t have the ring of truth.
          I don´t doubt your experience or opinions, but I think you are failing to see the forest for the trees. I suspect that you were shielded from the excesses of the regime because you were lucky. Very lucky.
          And even a broken clock is correct twice per day, comrade.
          I mean, come off it, man, for Christ´s sake. Even the old Soviet movies reek of depressing, bleak nihilism. Have you seen “Stalker” for example, the science fiction film?

        26. Ahh. Stalker by the brothers strugatskiy. I’ve seen it, and quite enjoyed it. Have you seen the New Years favorite called “Irony of fate or with light steam”? Or “hand of diamonds? Or “Red sun of the desert”? Each of these movies is a light hearted and shows a good world, they way it actually was.
          What I am going against is Western historiography of the Soviet Era. If you read Russian or German authors you will have an entirely different perspective of World War 2, the Cold War, living in the Soviet Era. I implore you to go live in Russia for 1 year, talk to some Russians both young and old. And don’t go to a large city like Moscow full of rich people, go to a smaller one like Yurkutsk, Sochi, Yaketrinburg, Rostov on Don. You will learn of an entirely different perspective. Much of what you heard is people misrepresenting facts to fit in with the system here in the West. I myself do it too out of practical concerns.

        27. All that I ask, is that you keep an open mind and be willing to accept that much of what you learned about Soviet history is wrong.
          Instead of reading mainstream history about the Soviets, go a bit deeper and read some sources about the positive aspects of life in the USSR and World War 2.

        28. You are only talking about Stalin’s period with the Purges/famines. Yes they happened. Yes people died. But Stalin did much good for the country too. I’ve read accounts of engineers, scientists, mechanics, construction workers, managers, Generals who have met Stalin and worked with Stalin during his rapid industrialization. Their testimonials are after Stalin died and some have even been interviewed now, so there was no way that the government coerced them. All of them give accounts of Stalin being a brilliant man, who strove to understand the each and every discipline in order to be able to make as competent decisions as possible. Hell, even Tupolev, when doing a presentation to Stalin on plane designs, was astounded by the depth and understanding of aviation sciences by Stalin. Each of these men say that Stalin was remarkably fair towards people and did not punish or reward without reason.
          Here is a good book that describes everything I have written about the purges, Holodomor, and Stalin himself. It is in Russian though.

          It is a relatively new book by a good Russian historian who tried to be as objective as possible in his representation of Stalin.
          Think about it, whose accounts do you trust more? The people who lived in the USSR, Americans or the accounts of people who lived in the satellite states (which were entirely different)?

        29. “I think some Russians romanticize that era, as it may seem better, in
          retrospect, to what happened afterwards. But that is misplaced nostalgia
          for what was a living nightmare for millions of others.”
          Similar to pre-60s America. Its an era that is romanticized, idealized, harkened back to as the “good ol’ days”. Lots of nostalgia.
          Nostalgia never takes into account all the crap and downright cruelty that also took place concurrently.

        30. ” I don’t know what is worse, forcing criminals to work in gulags”
          Prisoners are forced to labor in the USPIC, United States Prison Industrial Complex, too.
          “Prisoners earning 23 cents an hour in U.S. federal prisons are manufacturing high-tech electronic components for Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles, launchers for TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles, and other guided missile systems.”

          And that’s just the tip of the ice berg.

        31. I think you do have a point about much of what we have been told about the old Soviet Union is misleading or false. All I am saying is that you should not take this too far, and whitewash Soviet crimes. The communists were terrible to their own people in many different ways, and this has been documented very carefully and thoroughly by people far more informed than you or me.
          The fact that some good things came out of the communist era is not due to the virtues of communism, but to the hardiness and resilience of the people, who refused to be cowed and destroyed by an inhuman system.

      2. “You’re right, kruschevka’s and lack of mass produced consumer goods was a large problem in the USSR, the one that arguable led to its collapse.”
        Mass production of consumer NEEDS is one thing. Over production of a bunch of CRAP that is not needed and goes to WASTE, like in the States, is another. A choice of 200 different shampoos, all with the same basic toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, but merely packaged differently is not a “need”. If you stroll to the back of any major grocery store in the States and open their large garbage dumps you will find tons of good (well “good” is relative here but you know what I mean), expensive, non-spoiled food that is completely thrown out just because it reached an arbitrary “sell by” date. Its not even donated because they can’t donate food, no matter how “good” that has reached its arbitrary sell by date.
        Over production is a gluttonous, rotten waste.
        “Material things aren’t that important as long as you have things
        necessary for survival. In America you have alot of material things, but a total breakdown of social values.”

      3. You sir, are the finest troll I have seen on this site to-date. If you
        are not, then I’d like to know at which American university you have
        managed to burrow yourself into as faculty and how high you are in the
        hierarchy of the DNC.

  7. WOW. Thank you so much for writing this, QC.
    “Is it worth it for all of us to leave Point A for Point B? It is. If life puts us in a situation where you have to take the first step from falsehood to the truth, from evil to good, from the devil to God—get up and go. Go despite everything, go through fear of death, and even into the cross-hairs of a gunsight. If you’re right, you will be saved by Providence, and then you’ll be able to go through the whole alphabet, from A to Z and beyond.”
    —Alexander Ushakov
    “What makes the heart of the Christian heavy? The fact that he is a pilgrim, and longs for his own country.”
    —St. Augustine
    You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.

  8. I had a Russian girlfriend for a while. Before she got fat and I dumped her. (Russian woman are often beautiful until they are about 30-35, then they tend to get very fat. It’s in their genes I guess).
    She first arrived from Russia in Canada to attend university. She had probably the highest IQ of any woman I have ever dated.
    She said that shortly after arriving in Vancouver she went to a grocery store. She said that she looked around completely stunned. Then started crying. It was the first time she had ever seen abundance. Her first thought, she said, was that she could not believe that so many millions of people were forced to live in the USSR with such deprivation. That’s what she always called Russia – “The land of deprivation.”
    That has always stuck with me.
    She had many other stories. About corruption. And about how low people had to go to get basic staples. For example, when people were to get married, they had to register with the government. The Soviets wanted to encourage marriage and reproduction, so couples soon to be married were given passes to shop in special stores where there were more goods available. Well, you can imagine where that led. She and her friends would get engaged to be married, shop in these stores, then “break off” their engagements. They then sold those goods in the black market at huge mark ups. That is just one of the many things she did to try to improve her life and the lives of her parents.
    Those old habits were hard to break when she was in the US. She would see opportunities that we would not even think about. For example, she would buy the best of everything she could afford at Nordstrom before Christmas. Nordstrom had (probably still has) a policy of giving you the discounted price on an item that you recently brought it full price if you came into the store and complained. So, she’d wait until the deepest after-Christmas discounts were in place – with only the odd sizes still left in the store – and demand the same discount on the items (not odd sized) that she bought at full price. She’d end getting $150 gloves for $19, $300 shoes for $29, and so on. Then she’d ship those off to a friend that operated a retail store in Moscow called “America.” (This was before distribution really got going in Russia, with all the brandnames available). Her friend would mark up the items 3 or 4 times higher than the full retail price in the US. They both made loads of money doing that.
    She had lots of tricks like that.
    She did NOT miss Russia. She would go back to visit her mother, but she hated going there.

    1. Interesting story. Personally I am the opposite—brought here in 2005 and not liking it as much as Russia, working on returning to Russia when I graduate high school here in America.

  9. Check out mujahadeen accounts of early encounters with the “dreaded” Soviet army… you will often read of the Soviet soldiers blubbering like little girls in the hills. Testimony to more of the grotesque lie that was the USSR.

    1. Check out German accounts of the ‘dreaded US Army’ during WW2, now that’s some juicy reading….

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