Speculators, “Birches” and the ban on musicians. How Putin got his 80s back

The return of "Birches"

Duty-free shops will open in Moscow and St. Petersburg, where only diplomats, employees of international organizations and members of their families will be able to buy goods. This became known on August 3, the document was posted on the official portal of legal documents.

Such stores existed in the Soviet Union: in addition to diplomats, sailors of the trawl fleet could buy in them. The latter paid with the so-called bonds with the obligatory presentation of a sailor's passport. Sailors will not be able to buy in modern "Beryozki", imported perfumes, jamon and other products from the "Evil Empire" will now be available only to diplomats and their families. Under the Union, they were obliged to transfer foreign exchange earnings to a special state account, issuing special books in return, which were exchanged for Beryozok products. The main official task of such stores is to confiscate foreign currency from citizens, while the unofficial task is to create privileges for diplomats.

War, sanctions, crisis

In 1979, "the introduction of a limited contingent of Soviet troops" (it was not officially called a war) into Afghanistan took place. This was accompanied by serious losses, the extent of which was hushed up. The response to the war was large-scale international sanctions, including on the sale of high technology. Soviet propaganda claimed that the sanctions would hit the Western countries themselves, and the USSR would not even feel them. In fact, both the sanctions and the war have become one of the most important reasons for the sharp acceleration of backwardness, and why the economic collapse.

Putin overfulfilled the Soviet plan: the war in Ukraine led to even more severe international isolation than the Afghan one. For example, after the introduction of troops into Afghanistan, Western countries boycotted the 1980 Olympics in the USSR, but Soviet athletes were not suspended from international competitions, as happened after the attack on Ukraine. In addition, the USSR did not even get to the point of an oil embargo.

Emigration and repatriation of Jews

In the Soviet Union, travel abroad was strictly limited, and even more so emigration. The issue was especially acute for the Jews: relations between the USSR and Israel deteriorated greatly after the Six-Day War of 1967, and against this background, the Soviet leadership itself decided to somewhat ease the restrictions on the repatriation of Jews to Israel. There were significantly more people wishing to leave the country than the authorities expected, and therefore, despite the formal right, it was very difficult to achieve de facto repatriation. The Jewish diasporas of different countries supported the right to repatriate Soviet Jews with all sorts of protests, and such actions took place in the USSR as well. For restricting emigration, the United States even imposed trade restrictions on the USSR, known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Assistance in the repatriation of Soviet Jews was provided by the so-called "Jewish Agency", or "Sohnut".

This year, Sokhnut is once again at the center of the political agenda. The Ministry of Justice asked that the Jewish agency Sokhnut be liquidated, and the FSB began listening to the organization's calls and even interfering with them. However, Russian Jews still have no serious obstacles to repatriation, and after the war, the flow of those wishing to obtain an Israeli passport has increased dramatically.


In the Soviet Union, the sale and storage of currency were prohibited, for currency transactions there was a firing squad. The official exchange rate could differ from that on the black market by dozens of times. You could buy dollars from currency speculators. Now the official exchange rate differs from the real one not so much, but currency restrictions have led to the return of the institution of speculators. Read more about the revival of the black market for currencies and how to exchange - in the text of The Insider.

Speculators have returned not only in the area of ​​currency sales. Now they are also buying up the products of foreign companies that left due to anti-war sanctions and reselling them on Avito at exorbitant prices.

Pioneer Revival

During Putin's 22-year rule, attempts have been made to revive the Pioneers more than once, but now it has finally gained official status in the form of an organization called Big Change. Putin will personally control all three permanent governing bodies of the new pioneers: the supervisory board, the coordinating board and the board. "Big Change" was created in June 2022, for this it took a bill from the State Duma, which quickly passed all the readings. Mentors will work with the participants of the movement. These "pioneer leaders" will not take "foreign agents" and "persons affiliated with them," the bill says.

Fight with musicians. new and the same

The end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s were the heyday of underground rock, the Moscow "Time Machine", the St. Petersburg "Aquarium", the Ufa DDT. All of these groups initially had problems with the authorities and only occasionally had the opportunity to perform at officially sanctioned concerts. Putin returned youth not only to himself, but also to these musicians: after the war, all three groups announced the cancellation of concerts in Russia, and with them, many young groups stopped touring - some of their own free will, some because of prohibitions . The tools for persecuting objectionable musicians, however, are different: in the USSR it could be, for example, the law on parasitism (Grebenshchikov had to work as a watchman, Tsoi as a stoker, and Shevchuk managed to be both), but today the authorities are armed with laws on "fake" and discrediting the army.


After the outbreak of a full-scale war in Ukraine, the Soviet culture of “squealing” received new life in Russia. About 2,000 administrative cases and dozens of criminal cases have already been initiated under the article for “fakes about the Russian army”, many of them after denunciations. In Penza, a schoolboy denounced a teacher who spoke out against the war, and St. Petersburg artist Sasha Skochilenko, who replaced price tags at Crossroads with anti-war agitation, faces up to 10 years in prison after being denounced by a pensioner. A resident of Moscow, after a conflict with her son, wrote a denunciation of him to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, complaining that he was evading military service, a State Duma deputy boasted of the detention of a Muscovite, who tore off the sign “For ours!” at the temple. A resident of the Moscow region wrote a denunciation of his wife because of criticism of the war, a Petersburger denounced a friend for criticizing the war for the sake of “re-education”, moreover, he provided the security forces with access to his social networks to collect information. He was not even stopped by the fact that a friend alone is raising a disabled son.

"Duchess" and "Tarragon" instead of "Cola" and "Pepsi"

After American brands announced their withdrawal from Russia, fast food chains had to look for a replacement. So, for example, in KFC and Burger King restaurants, “Cola” and “Pepsi” were replaced by “Duchess”, “Tarhun” or “Baikal” in the devices.

A Soviet citizen had about the same choice of carbonated drinks, however, the devices were not in fast foods, but simply on the street.

And much more

In recent months, the USSR has returned on all fronts: the emergence of banned literature (books of objectionable writers who spoke out against the war in Ukraine are being removed from store shelves), and censorship in feature films, and a new iteration of the law on gay propaganda, which now concerns not only minors (there are still no articles for “sodomy”, though), and persecution for humor (now these are not jokes in the smoking room, but stand-up comedians), and the return of “foreign broadcasting” against the backdrop of the complete destruction of independent media in Russia, only instead of jammers are now blacklisted by Roskomnadzor (and some of the legendary "Western voices" of the Soviet era - such as Radio Liberty and the BBC Russian Service - continue to play this role today). Many of the features of the late Soviet Union have not yet manifested themselves, but have every chance of doing so in the foreseeable future: among them shortages, queues and “carriage races” - when the leaders of the state grow so old that they die one after another.

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