How a Photographer Captured the USSR’s Dramatic Rise as the U.S. Economy Tanked

Appearances can be deceiving and this is only a Potemkin article that neglects to mention such growing pains as the murder and starvation of millions in the Ukraine and still more millions sent to work themselves to death in the camps.


Celebrating a country’s birthday or independence typically follows a well-known set of rituals, including fireworks, public festivals and passionate political speeches. Marking the occasion of a country’s collapse, however, is a trickier task, and one that Russians and citizens of the former Soviet Union confront each year on August 29. On that day in 1991, the Soviet Parliament suspended the activities of the country’s Communist Party, effectively pulling the plug on the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) altogether.

Many of those who heard the news that day could not identify a time in their own lives when their country could compete with, let alone surpass, its capitalist rivals. Years of economic stagnation, political corruption and popular unrest had discredited Soviet-style socialism as both an idea and a reality, leaving the country with few options but to enter and adjust to a world of free markets. Leaving behind a past…

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