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June 5, 2021

Soviet Union in the Mid-Late 1980s Through Amazing Photos

The history of the Soviet Union from 1982 through 1991 spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev‘s death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Soviet Union in the mid-late 1980s

Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development, and complex systemic problems in the command economy, Soviet output stagnated. Failed attempts at reform, a standstill economy, and the success of the proxies of the United States against the Soviet Union’s forces in the war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe.

Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader and General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, created an atmosphere of open criticism of the communist regime, and also perestroika. The dramatic drop of the price of oil in 1985 and 1986 profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership.

Several republics began resisting central control, and increasing democratization led to a weakening of the central government. The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that had attempted to topple reform-minded Gorbachev.

These amazing photos were taken by Simon Knott that show what the Soviet Union looked like in the mid-late 1980s.

Leningrad street scenes, December 1985

Leningrad. A Pepsi stand takes root beside a stand selling Communist badges and magazines, December 1985

Leningrad. Administrative buildings, Smolny, December 1985

Leningrad. Admiralty Arch, December 1985

Leningrad. Canal, December 1985

Leningrad. Catherine Square with Admiralty Arch and the Winter Palace in the background, December 1985

Leningrad. Catherine Square, December 1985

Leningrad. Catherine Square, December 1985

Leningrad. City centre across the Neva, December 1985

Leningrad. Feeding pigeons outside of the Kazaan Cathedral, December 1985

Leningrad. First light over the Neva, at about 10.30 in the morning. The dome of St Isaac's cathedral pierces the misty light, and the ice begins to shrink after the overnight thaw, December 1985

Leningrad. Happy New Year and Grandfather Frost outside the New Year Bazaar in the Merchant's Hall, Nevsky Prospect, December 1985

Leningrad. Landing quay on the Neva, December 1985

Leningrad. Leningrad Soviet, with the Bronze Horseman in the foreground, December 1985

Leningrad. Novogodni Bazar - New Year Bazaar and Grandfather Frost on Nevsky Prospect, December 1985

Leningrad. Peter-Paul Fortress beyond the bridge, December 1985

Leningrad. Smolny Institute, a former convent where Lenin assumed the leadership of the State, besieged by thawing snow, December 1985

Leningrad. The Admiralty and the Cathedral of the Ascension from the Field of Mars, December 1985

Leningrad. The Admiralty from Catherine Square, December 1985

Leningrad. The Field of Mars, December 1985

Leningrad. The Hermitage, December 1985

Leningrad. The Pushkin Palace, December 1985

Moscow. 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, December 1985

Moscow. Arbat Square, December 1985

Moscow. Arbat Square, December 1985

Moscow. Hotel Moskva, December 1985

Moscow. Inside the Kremlin, December 1985

Moscow. Lenin's Mausoleum at Red Square, December 1985.

Moscow. Lenin's Mausoleum at Red Square, December 1985

Moscow. Marx Prospekt, December 1985

Moscow. Old convent, December 1985

Moscow. Ostankino, December 1985

Moscow. Red Square, December 1985

Moscow. Red Square, December 1985

Moscow. St Basil's Cathedral, December 1985

Moscow. St Basil's Cathedral, December 1985

Moscow. The slogan on the building in the background reads “Communism Triumphs! Today, Fiftieth Anniversary of the Revolution Square” is the site of Moscow's largest central shopping mall, December 1985

Moscow. The work of the people, December 1985

Leningrad street scenes, December 1988

Leningrad. Peter Paul Fortress across the Neva, December 1988

Leningrad. Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetery, December 1988

Leningrad. Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetrey, the mass graves of more than a million Leningraders who died during the German siege of Leningrad 1941-44, December 1988

Leningrad. Sunrise in Leningrad in the middle of winter is at about 10.30 am. By 1pm, the sun is setting again, December 1988

Moscow Metro station, December 1988

Moscow. Communist traffic cops, December 1988

Moscow. Gorky Street, December 1988

Moscow. Gorky Street, December 1988

Moscow. GUM, December 1988

Moscow. Red Square on Christmas Day, December 1988

Moscow. Revolution Square, December 1988

Moscow. Rizhski Vokzal - Rigaer Railroad Station, December 1988

Moscow. St Basil's Cathedral, December 1988

Moscow. Sunrise over the grim northern suburbs, December 1988

Moscow. The Central Telegraph Agency on Gorky Street, December 1988

Moscow. Tourists and pilgrims outside the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square, December 1988




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