Reply To: Russia. People from the 90s, tell us what it was like, really?

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“I was born in 1976. I remember the 80s pretty well, but the 90s are imprinted in my head forever.

Father and mother worked at the state farm, graduates. The state farm drastically shrank, there were no salaries, in principle, at first it was possible to get meat or grain for a salary, later all this was gone, people worked only for the opportunity to get a few loaves of bread from the state farm bakery. My father opened a farm, worked hard from morning to night, but the results of his labor were enough only to feed the family. The family had 4 sons, I was the eldest, the youngest, born in ’90. Getting us to school was tantamount to a feat.

Some details:

– my father went to the city to sell potatoes, the bandits came and took away everything that he brought for sale.

– we sell vouchers to at least partially get ready for school *Privatisation vouchers, rich people bought them from poor people. Later these vouchers were used to get whole plants or even whole industries into private hands.*

– homemade or altered socks, homemade mittens, homemade tea (of tinder fungis), tobacco products and shag are used as currency in the village.

– ’93 I entered the pedagogical institute, almost all teachers have part-time jobs, someone sells, someone sews hats, they earn extra money in the institute’s workshop, make coffins and so on to order. The student canteen is functioning, but there is no money even for it. We ate tea and bread, hot food in the form of pasta or potatoes literally once a day, but sometimes even this we couldn’t have. The rampant banditry around, some of my classmates are in this mess, someone rips off people’s hats *fur hats stolen from people’s heads right in the street was very popular crime, the fur hats sold good*, someone fumbles through the pockets in the marketplace. Shooting here and there, both crime bosses and ordinary people killed, the corpses of shuttle traders from China found. Kiosks and stalls are being burned.

– the father died in ’94. The mother stayed alone with young children. I became the eldest man in the family, while continuing to study at the institute. Financially, I could only rely on myself. In winter, my brother and me chopped firewood for money, in summer haymaking, harvesting, selling, preparing the younger ones for school, in the fall slaughtering cattle – selling meat.

– in ’95, my brother went to the army, he served on the contract.

– in 96, my mother had a serious fracture of her leg, could not walk normally for almost a year, life became many times more difficult, thanks to relatives for their help.

– in 98, the second brother entered the academy (now a candidate of sciences, associate professor), I was expelled for academic debt and from the 5th year I went to the army.

– how mother got through the years ’98 – 2000, I can only guess.

– in 2002 I already bought myself a TV and VCR.

For me, the 90s will never be Holy Time*, this is hard times, which I will not wish to anyone to see.”

*the author refers to the words by Naina Eltsyn. She once called this period “Holy Time” and justified the “shock therapy policy”, saying that this state of affairs in the country allowed the development of democracy. As you can easily guess, a very large part of the Russian population reacted contemptuously to this statement.