I grew up in the USSR ( in the Socialist republic of Belarus) in thethe 70's and 80's and saw the transformation of the country from Communist to what it is today. I immigrated to the UK in the 90's and live there now.

PROOF :http://imgur.com/ZeoXLf3

Comments: 352 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

t_maia43 karma

Funny or not:

Why was toilet paper in the USSR so rough? So that even the last arse would be red.

born_in_ussr60 karma

Funnily enough Toilet paper was hard to come by and was indeed rough. Most people used old newspapers instead. Good Joke!

strangelove26232 karma

How were Americans perceived by people in the Soviet Union? What sort of things were said about "average Americans" by the government and the media?

born_in_ussr90 karma

American people were presented as two main classes. Class of capitalists who were ruling the country and hated us. The other class was of workers and peasants who were just like us. Capitalists were war thirsty evils who were so afraid of the spread of communism awareness that they were prepared to wage wars to stop it.The only good part was poor oppressed common people of US who did not have enough courage to revolt. Here is the example: It changed however when Gorbachev came into power and we saw the real picture which was of course different

Eurocad28 karma

From what I've heard, people in the United States were in constant fear of being attacked. Were people in the Soviet Union just as afraid?

born_in_ussr76 karma

Yes it was exactly the same. I had a personal issue gas mask and basic military education lessons from the age of ten. That was also the age I was shown how to shoot from a AK-74

cj250020 karma

Were you affected by Chernobyl?

born_in_ussr72 karma

I am not sure if that counts or even if that was an effect from Chernobyl, but here is the story. Chernobyl is in Ukraine, however 70% of radioactive rains fell on Belarus territory within the first few months. I lived 400 km away from it, when it happened. My parents and myself went to live for 4 years in Mongolia 3 months after the disaster happened. Something peculiar happened there. About 10 months after the disaster mu mother started to loose her hair. She was a healthy woman and doctors could not find an explanation to that, neither could they cure it. She learnt to live wearing wig and has no hair even on her eyebrows and eyelids for the last 25 years. Was it Chernobyl? I don't know. My Grandfather used to live within 200 km of Chernobyl. They were measuring radiation levels in his village and told the residents that it was not safe to live there. Apparently there was a radioactive patch there. No one allowed to grow food for sale in that area even now. My granddad refused to move out and lived there until 1996 and died aged 77. I have visited him few times within last 10 years of his life. They said the area was not clean - it is hard to understand when you don't see it

SynShads19 karma

I know there are plenty of people who grew up and lived in the Soviet Union that completely supported Communism and to this day, would love it if it was back. Were you supportive of the Soviet Union while you were growing up? If so, would you want Communism to make a return?

born_in_ussr48 karma

We were so brainwashed and were not taught to think. We were blindly excepting and repeating the opinions already put in front of us by our teachers. Iron Curtain was doing its toll as well as I did not know any different and had no reason to doubt the official point of view. I was very patriotic when I was growing up.I am looking at North Korea now and I think that is probably very similar how they live there. I was 100% supportive of everything our leaders did. I would not like for Communism to return. I think it is not possible and was proved to fail, however the society with some socialist values would be ideal I think.

SynShads4 karma

Wow, I can't even imagine what it'd be like to not be able to think, I'm sorry you had to go through that. I know in Soviet Russia, they were brainwashed into thinking Lenin and Stalin were both gods among men, each having their own cult of personality. Did they also have this in Belarus? I'm actually taking a class right now on the Soviet Experience and I'm very curious about all of this!

born_in_ussr70 karma

It is very easy if you try to compare it with religion, I think. When from birth you were told that certain things just the way they are. You mentioned Lenin and Stalin being like gods - exactly. I remember being a child and the thought of doing something which would be disapproved by Lenin would terrify me. From the age of 7 I was OCTYABRYONOK (the child of OCTOBER - great revolution months) I was given a badge with the picture of young Lenin and swore to try to be like him. When I was 10 I became pioneer. I have got a different badge, red scarf and my oath of supporting the party, and everything that Lenin started was even more serious. We were so politicised from the early age, when doubting or questioning the bases of our society would be equal to heretism in religion. It is easily done when great degree of isolation applied. It would only work behind "Iron curtain". I know know that we had people who thought differently and were not afraid to speak up. Those were very talented and brave individuals, easily branded as enemies of the state. In Soviet Union there was hardly any difference between the republics. Even though different nationalities and cultures were celebrated, however the main idea of the communism was that we were all one race - one class! and should have concentrated on class differences. We were taught that cultural differences would only divide the class of workers and peasants in their fight against the capitalists, therefore it should be left behind for the sake of the common aim!!

YetiTerrorist18 karma

What was the one thing you were most excited about or what was the thing you most enjoyed after communism fell that you couldn't have prior?

born_in_ussr45 karma

The most exiting part to us was that we discovered a whole world that was hidden or distorted. The thing I enjoyed most after communism was freedom to travel where I want.

kewlkidmgoo17 karma

American citizens were taught to believe that we'd win a nuclear war, capitalism was superior, and that they could survive a nuclear strike by hiding underneath desks. What things did your government tell you?

born_in_ussr112 karma

Pretty much the complete opposite, however we were told that we had to compete in the arms race to protect the good people of the world from the Capitalist warmongers. The difference was we were told there would be no winners in a nuclear war.

MichaelNewmann13 karma

You have lived in both - east or west? Good and bad sides?

born_in_ussr53 karma

Hard to say which is better. The good things about the east was that everyone in your community was more less equal. What you had everyone else had. People also had more moral values and everyone would help each other out in the community .I didn’t know then but the bad thing was that we had less freedom of expressing our thoughts on any issues. In the west the bad thing is that sometimes people who are a bit mad are free to do what they want which can affect society in bad ways. Quite often when you are in trouble you are on your own you don’t get enough help. In the Soviet Union the state would look after you and your life could be planned many years ahead. The good things are the opportunities and choices that you have here in the west.

Crossfire_XVI12 karma

Is it true that people in the USSR used do almost anything to get a smuggled pair of blue jeans from the United States? I've always heard this, but I want to know whether it actually happened.

born_in_ussr17 karma

Not always and not everywhere and not anything. In 70's Soviet Union started to trade oil and brought in some imported goods. There were people who had access to this stuff and corruption was of unbelievable proportions. It was a basic human nature to want to have something fashionable, that others could not get. Sometimes moral values were failing for those on a hunt for material gain. I believe it affected a small amount of people who lived in big cities and had foreign friends. I had my first pair of jeans in 1986 and it was not a big deal for me. My parents had them earlier. I remember that their cost about half month's salary (80 - 100 roubles) a pair if you were lucky enough to get it from the shop. It would cost considerably more from people who would find the opportunity to buy them for resale

msxenix10 karma

What is your present day view on communism?

born_in_ussr48 karma

I think that Communism is an Utopia. It is impossible to create a society where everyone would live abiding a set of rules driven by their consciousness alone. The simplified definition of communism for Soviet citizens was:”It is when you give to the society all you can and take only what really need in return-no questions asked.” I would prefer Capitalism with a Socialist front.

gdination10 karma

I can understand if things weren't great in the Soviet Union, but I'm sure there were some good parts to your life there. What do you miss the most?

born_in_ussr104 karma

The kind of people that we were. It has gone once we started to get American chewing gum and jeans. People used to care after each other. I remember making 40 minutes journey to kinder garden on my own when I was 5. Apart from walking it involved 2 bus changes and crossing roads. None of my guardians ever thought I could be in danger. It was that safe!! I remember when I lost my tickets in Moscow and was sending a telegram to my relatives to send me the money - someone in the queue saw the words in it and just gave me the money, because I was in need. I remember my parents coming home after work with a stranger. Apparently, they saw him sleeping on the bench as he had no money for the hotel and his train was departing the next day. They thought he did not have to sleep on the bench as we had a folding bed we set up for him in the kitchen after giving him dinner. People trusted each other more and were more caring. Most did not care about materialistic things.

dasubertroll8 karma

Have you visited Belarus since?

born_in_ussr13 karma

Yes a few times. Last time in April 2012 with my wife and my son. I still have a big family living all over ex Soviet countries. They come to see me in the UK too.

ElisaAnderson2 karma

Can you travel freely in Belarus? AFAIK it's the last 'real' dictatorship in Europe still. How free is it?

born_in_ussr6 karma

Yes, you can travel freely within Belarus and Russia - they have no borders like some EU countries. Until recently you would need a special permission to be able to go abroad, in fact just a stamp in your passport. That would refuse this stamp to people who are on bail for some criminal offences, or refuse to undergo National conscript service and stuff like that. Apparently, even that obstacle is taken off now. I cannot comment on how free is Belarus, I don't live there,though have my parents, relatives and friends living there. My impression is that it is an autocratic state, where majority doesn't mind that. Most feel safe to live in such state without interference from other countries. I am a strong believer that the people and not personalities are the driving force of the history. When and if Belarus and its people would be ready to change the way their live - they would be able to do it themselves. Look at the examples of Orange revolution in Ukraine and Rose revolution in Georgia. It has been orchestrated from the West and as such did not live long. It reverted back to pre-orange era in Ukraine and it seems that the same is happening in Georgia now.

Aero068 karma

As someone who's been through it all, do you think Socialism could work? I mean there were a variety of factors that lead to the downfall of the second world, but was it bareable? Because I always hear people say 'we won the Cold War!' and 'Communism doesn't work!', those remarks are stupid obviously, but I'd like to hear your opinion.

born_in_ussr15 karma

Thanks for your question. As I was saying before I believe in capitalism with socialist face, a bit like in China maybe. The USSR was a difficult experiment as it wasn’t flexible enough and the arms race killed it economically in the end. If there are enough people who believe in the system and no outside interference I believe that it is possible to create a fair Socialist society

G_I_Joe_Mansueto6 karma

Where you able to visit other Bloc countries? What were your experiences away from home while within the greater USSR?

born_in_ussr9 karma

There were no restrictions for travelling within the USSR (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Russia) , but travelling to other countries was a nightmare. Most citizens have never been abroad. As a teenager I was lucky to go to Mongolia with my parent s where my Dad went to work. It took them over 6 months to get the appropriate forms and medical tests done. They would have to have a good reputation and even family up to cousins was checked for reliability. It was considered to be a great honour to represent the USSR abroad. The place I lived in was close to Polish borders. I don't recall a single person who went there at the time.

TheReasonableCamel4 karma

Did people ever come from other countries like Poland?

born_in_ussr19 karma

I would suspect a few did, however I saw none as I lived in a small town (200,000 people) in Belarus. In that town during Soviet times I never met any foreigners apart from in 1980 where all the trains from Western Europe passed through our town carrying Olympic Athletes to Moscow. Me and my Grandma went and brought flowers for the Athletes to make them feel welcome in our country, no one asked/forced us to do it.

perche-6 karma

There were no restrictions for travelling within the USSR

Come on. Maybe one of your parents were high-ranking officials, but not for everyone.

born_in_ussr11 karma

The only places you wouldn’t be able to go to without good reason would be few towns involved with the production of sensitive military equipment, few towns around Baikanur( Space Rocket launch facility) for example. I am only talking about travel in the 70’s and 80’s, no restrictions just buy a ticket and go. Different story if you wanted to move and live in a different place, there would be a few obstacles. My Father was an engineer not a high ranked official by the way.

Marylandman1015 karma

best book/movie of what it was like in the Soviet Union?

born_in_ussr13 karma

I don't think I watched or read any specific things about the life in Soviet Union. No. I know the best movie actually - Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1980) Moskva slezam ne verit (original title). This film won the Oscar. If there is anything you would like to learn about Soviet Union - this one is the best reflection. Just the life of few ordinary citizens throughout couple of decades. It covers only 60s and 70s, but this is the country I remember and love.

streakingduck5 karma

Any bad things you see as a kid?

born_in_ussr23 karma

No actually not. All the bad things that I saw were the lawless times of transition from communist to market economy times. Mafia, racket, corruption, greed, despair. It was crazy and dangerous time - life cost very little and everyone could only count on themselves to survive

doomgiver985 karma

If you have read 1984, how similar was the USSR to the setting in the book?

born_in_ussr16 karma

I haven't read 1984, but I know what it's about. I personally lived in such a bubble that i didn't feel that it was a 1984 type society.

doomgiver982 karma

Well, to summarize, it's a society where everyone is programmed to accept the society and not even think about questioning the regime. And when you do begin to think something undesirable, you are taken away in the middle of the night.

I was just asking if people actually think they're treated well.

born_in_ussr6 karma

I know now it was very similar. It just never personally touched me or affected me. I have never heard about people becoming undesirables for questioning the regime. People around me were relatively happy and never thought of criticizing the government. Then again, I lived in a small provincial town...

Anfomay4 karma

What are your thoughts about Putin and his influences in the last years. Do you think he is attempting to take things back to the Soviet days?

born_in_ussr15 karma

I don’t think that it is possible to take Russia back to Soviet/Communist days. However it is possible to regain the might and influence that the USSR had in it’s time and I think this is what Putin and most Russians want and so do I. The current world lacks polarity and as a result stability. Two or more powerful nations with differing opinions could make the world better and fairer.

FinKM4 karma

Gorbachev seems to be despised by former citizens of the Soviet Union, what is your opinion of him?

born_in_ussr12 karma

He is my best politician of all the times and countries. He had the courage to admit inevitable and get the country away from the catastrophe of much more dramatic end. Most Soviet people associate him with the hardest time in their lives. Sad. He is one of the most sensible and charismatic people on the world stage.

spacedboy3 karma


born_in_ussr4 karma

I think the scale of surveillance varied throughout 70 year history of USSR. I remember that criticizing the government and bitching about the system did not come to my head. I know its hard to imagine. I was a young communist and would not join the organisation if I was not happy. I knew it could cost me dearly to start any sort of criticism - it was called anti-soviet propaganda. To me it would be like if a very religious person would start to doubt the existence of god.

SovietBattery3 karma

Were you raised to think anything negative about america?

born_in_ussr11 karma

Yes I was. The only good part was poor oppressed common people of US who did not have enough courage to revolt. Here is the example: It changed however when Gorbachev came into power.

MonsterTruckButtFuck3 karma

If you could go back to the 70's and move to America with your family, a house, a car, and a magical knowledge of american English, would you do it?

Also, how do you feel about this picture? http://zg.swl-clan.at/asset/201211/zg.vj8d.jpeg

born_in_ussr16 karma

No I wouldn’t, (I wouldn’t even do it now as I am happy in The UK and America is a bit too extreme for me)In the 70’s we didn’t have a car or our own house. We bought our first TV in 1982 and it was Black and White! However I enjoyed that life and I wouldn’t swap it for the “American dream” Also I enjoyed your comic.

johnw19882 karma

How did the education system work in the USSR? Could anyone go to a university? If not, how did one do it?

born_in_ussr8 karma

Yes anyone could go to an university. All you needed to do was finish ten years of school and pass entrance exams. Usually for 4 or 5 subjects. It's absolutely free, free place in a hostel, bursary money and guess what? At the end guaranteed work placement when you leave if you wanted it. It might not be the best working place or in a nice big city, but it was there if you needed it. Your new workplace would be responsible for finding your accommodation if you needed it.

eg2202 karma

How was living in Mongolia different from living in Belarus?

born_in_ussr6 karma

Very different in many ways. Culture, climate. Most importantly, Mongolians had much lower living conditions and it made us soviet people apreciate more what we had in the USSR.

periskope2 karma

Did you ever see the Russian hard rock band Gorky Park in concert in the late 80's? If so, what was the public/private opinion towards them? And did you see the Moscow Music Peace Festival?

born_in_ussr1 karma

It was extremely popular and I was a fan as well. I watched Moscow Music Peace Festival on TV. I was not lucky enough to go to Luzhniki Stadium to watch it. That was my kind of music at the time. I think most young people in USSR at that time were discovering rock and hard rock music without limits. The soloist of GORKY PARK - Alexander Marshal is still singing, but he is a pop artist now.

jclovis2 karma

Привет, рад знать что здесь есть русский ишо

born_in_ussr1 karma

Privet zemlyak!

runningoec2 karma

I have heard that the architecture was very peculiar, in the sense that if there was one good building it was to be rebuild the same way, 5 times, in a row. Is this true? And how well were the buildings maintained?

Also, not to criticize you but wasn't the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991? Your certificate says 1995.

born_in_ussr7 karma

There were 2 types of passports in Soviet Union and after it - internal and external for going abroad. For some strange reason, after USSR collapsed all the independent republics kept using the old blank passports for few years. The copy I provided was my external passport issued by independent Republic of Belarus in 1995. You would have to be born in the USSR to be issued with that. I still have my internal USSR passport somewhere which was my first passport at the age of 16. It is all in Russian though . Are you working in Border Control by any chance? You should be a detective - well done for spotting that!

You are right about the buildings. It was just mass production - the easiest way to build is to create one design and copy it across the country. There is a cult movie in USSR when one lad just moved in to a new district new block of flats of Moscow in about 1980. Then he went to sauna with his friends just before New Year, got drunk and accidently they got him on the plane to Leningrad instead of someone else. When he arrived in that city, he took a taxi and gave him his address. The driver took him to the same street name and the same apartment block number, but in Leningrad - not in Moscow. The area was so similar - he did not even spot the difference. The block was the exact copy and even his keys matched the door lock. The rest was just pure comedy.

runningoec2 karma

Thanks for the reply! I do not work in Border Control, but I am very interested in the Soviet Union and the scientific research that happened in the area. Also the movie that you described sounds very funny, do you remember the name of it?

jaj59542 karma

Do you have an opinion on the Republic of Georgia? When I was in Russia, I made friends with a kid from there my age back then-- he's a lawyer now, seeking to immigrate to the UK. He's extremely critical of Russia and its influence of former Soviet republics.

born_in_ussr3 karma

I love Georgians. They have such a unique culture. I think Russians adore their cute accent. By the way, I think it is the only nation in the world which calls the father - MAMA, and the mother - PAPA. I don't know what happened recently, I mean last 20 years. I remember when USSR was collapsing, Russia was supporting some separatist movements within Georgia. In return, Georgian government started to support Chechens when they wanted independence. As for the influence, it seems that like in older days it is again either American or Russian influence and I can relate to the feeling that it is better to step up and try to be in control in bordering regions, rather then let very remote and alien US to fill the gap? I came from Belarus which have greater integration with Russia then any other ex republic, which is build on a very different and fairer base. I think it is the way forward for a few other countries in the region - if they want it! There is not that much bullying any more from Russia and countries have choices (that does not necessarily apply to Georgia. I am not happy about Russian attitude towards breakaway regions)

rathead2 karma

in soviet russia... you don't wear earmuffs... earmuffs wear you.

Hreinzi1 karma

Lets imagine, its the 80's you get to see a propaganda video of the U.S lifestyle. and its shown everything, that the average family owned at that time. What would have gone trough your head after you saw that video.

born_in_ussr1 karma

I believe I have seen those propaganda documentaries. Inevitably, they had Soviet commentaries. I just would not believe that a common US citizen would have such an easy and relaxed life and have so much opportunities. We were told that all the luxuries were affordable only by the rich and it was achieved via centuries of slave driving ordinary American people and other peace loving nations. Basically, I would view those films as "The propaganda" and nothing common with the real life

freemarket271 karma

Were there any private houses in Belarus when you lived there? I am curious how a socialist system handles housing. Does everyone get the same sized home/apartment?

born_in_ussr10 karma

Most people were living in the blocks of flats. However some were living in the private sector and had their own houses. I think it was a privilege of people connected with the countryside, farming. Living in the big industrial town you would have no option to purchase your own house - there were not many built and you would never save enough for it. You would usually start your carrier at the factory. That would give you a room in the hostel or something like that and put you on the list for the flat/apartment. Depending on the area where you lived, you would probably work for that organisation for 6-9 years before you get municipal accommodation. Blocks of flats were built in accordance with 5 year plans made by party officials. There was never enough housing. Those living in their own houses would probably inherit them after living few mixed up generations under one roof for decades. My family never had their own property, not even a car, which was such a luxury.

Redskull6733 karma

i heard you had to apply for a car and wait for a time period

born_in_ussr6 karma

Yes that is true. You could only buy Soviet made car anyway. In the 80's the list would be few years long if you wanted to buy it for the government price. There were people who bought cars and resold them. Your queue to get car could be quicker if you asked your granddad - veteran of war to do it for you. That would have priveledges and their queue would be shorter - could buy a car within a year, if you had the money.

t_maia1 karma

Have you ever read "Russian Disco" by Wladimir Kaminer?

born_in_ussr1 karma

No I haven't, thanks for mentioning I will look in to it.

WArch1 karma

In Belarus, is there genuine popular support for Lukashenka, or is he incredibly unpopular? I've been told that, though there is a lot of vote rigging, it isn't quite as simple as a dictatorship.

born_in_ussr9 karma

Last time I went there (April 2012) I met mainly two types of people. One type which support him one hundred percent and call him father of the nation, and another type which could see no worthy alternative to him as they believe current opposition to be heavily sponsored by the west and doesn't reflect the aspirations of the people. Both types would vote Lukashenka- better the devil you know than the devil you don't. I think the country is so far from a market economy that most people are too scared to turn back and go through the horrors of shock therapy neighbouring states went through some time ago.

freemarket271 karma

What was the justification for calling the capitalists "warmongers"? The Americans at least withdrew from the territory they had conquered during WWII.

born_in_ussr9 karma

Not my words – “Soviet Propaganda’s” To be honest it’s hard to disagree considering America’s involvement in every conflict since WWII(Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, El Salvador, Honduras even Afghanistan in the 80’s)

nunobo1 karma

How do you feel about your Polish neighbors? Antagonists? Or brothers separated by a border?

born_in_ussr3 karma

I love Polish neighbours. I think we have so much in common. I was born 250 km away from Polish border. I like Poland without politics and believe it should stay that way. When you start looking at the history - not so great. I am not the one to judge, but I think great mistakes were done on both sides. I was born in West Belarus, which some Polish people would remember as Eastern Rech Pospolita. Some still like to think that they have the right for that land. I have met many older Beloarussians who used to live under Poland. Most of them remeber it was not great. Polish masters had no consideration for Belorussian language and culture and treated peasants like slaves. In 1939 when Soviet Army went in West Belarus, common people genuinely were happy to be liberated from Polish oppression. I think some started changing their minds when the horror of communist oppression started to sink in, however the war started in 1941 and up to 1/3 of civil population of Belarus died as a result of that war. You cannot look back and have the grudge at either Polish or Russians. I believe we are all very close Slavic people and should be brothers. I have many Polish friends in UK. We never even get to discuss the past and the history - pointless.

MonaghanIndustries1 karma

What is your opinion of the original Marxist ideology, as opposed to how it was implemented, if there is a difference? And is there really a difference?

born_in_ussr6 karma

I think it is very complicated. Even for the young communist as I was. My opinion is that you cannot predict the way the society will evolve and nudge it in that direction. Marx created some sort of a BIBLE by writing "THE CAPITAL" and "COMMUNISM MANIFESTO". Like the BIBLE it was so complicated and open to interpretations. I do not think anyone can honestly say that know exactly what were Marx's intentions and how he saw the future world. Communists in Soviet Union like priests in the church tried to find instructions in that book for every aspect of everyday's life. I think for ideology to be alive ( the same as religion) it should adapt to any current situation and be fairly flexible to satisfy the majority.

[deleted]1 karma


born_in_ussr2 karma

Yes, same I had the same experiences when I first came to the UK in 95 and still have the same feeling especially after short trips to Belarus. I am still grateful for all the things that make life so easy and comfortable,but I don't forget my roots and people who work there so hard for so little gain.

jrd_dthsqd1 karma

What makes more sense, English or Russian?

born_in_ussr3 karma

If you are asking about the language - ENGLISH. It is simple and precise. The best language for instructions hence making sense.. Russian is beautiful in poetry though!

freemarket270 karma

Is there are brain drain happening in Belarus? Where the people with smarts and ambition leave the country?

born_in_ussr3 karma

Sorry but I honestly don't know. I live in the UK but I wouldn't call myself a brain. It is very difficult for people in Belarus to find ways to go and work/live abroad unless it's in Russia or Ukraine

freemarket27-3 karma

Do you see similarities between the rhetoric of democrat politicians in the US and the communists of Belarus?

born_in_ussr8 karma

Sorry, I cannot comment as I do not follow US domestic politics a lot. Sorry to dissapoint