Why Russians long for the Soviet Union

“As I listened to Putin’s speech about Crimea, I hugged my child close and said, ‘Look, son. You will remember this for the rest of your life,'” Skoibeda wrote. “Entering a conflict with the whole world to defend your rights and interests — that is the U.S.S.R. And being willing to live in poverty — that is also the Soviet Union. So what if Russia has been kicked out of the Group of Eight? The Soviet Union always lived in isolation. My homeland is back.”

A large swath of the Russian population shares Skoibeda’s views. Almost everyone who supports using force against Ukraine sees it primarily as a path to resurrecting the Soviet Union. This may be explained by the fact that the majority of these people never lived in the U.S.S.R. and do not remember it. For them, it is just a mythical golden age of a great power that could provide stability to several generations of Russians.

Soviet dissident Valeriya Novodvorskaya responded to them on the site Grani.ru, which is now officially blocked by the government but still available to Internet users who can access the site using simple, evasive measures. “Supporters of Putin have chosen the Soviet Union. So let us go back to 1990, when you could only buy baloney in Moscow and got butter by ration card — 200 grams per month — a time when there were no boutiques, no iPhones, no chic cafes or foreign cars.”

Of course, Novodvorskaya also remembers the repressions of the Soviet period; she was jailed many times for his dissident activities. But for many people, those repressions are part of the Soviet allure.