The Former USSR versus Russia Today

In the USSR, people often joked: “A woman, seeing a line, walks up to the end of it and asks, ‘Who’s last?’ And then, ‘And what are they giving?” (Mikheev). Back then, people lived in very difficult conditions. Today many experts compare Russia with the USSR and, surprisingly, find many similarities. Although there are certain things in common in the two countries, their economic systems, political order, and the dependency on the outer world differ.

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The economic systems of the USSR and Russia differ from each other: there was a command economy in the former country and a market-driven economy in the latter one. In the USSR, people had no possibility to become entrepreneurs. Thus, the state owned all businesses. As a result, there was a lack of choice – people had to buy clothes and foods offered by the state alone. Unfortunately, the authorities often made mistakes while planning how to distribute goods among so many countries. Consequently, not all regions received the necessary items; in other cases, they received them with delays. Due to this situation, people had to wear similar clothes and stand in long lines to buy the necessary products such as milk, bread, and meat. The foods of better quality and variety were available only in big cities, such as Moscow. Today, in Russia, people can choose what to wear and what to eat. There are many companies that can offer this choice. Long lines also disappeared. However, state participation in the economic process did not vanish completely. The authorities can interfere with entrepreneurs’ businesses, and it happens due to the current political order in the country.

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The political orders of the countries under consideration are not the same. There was a totalitarian model of power in the USSR, and there is an authoritarian rule in Russia, which is also far from being democratic. In the USSR, the governor had an opportunity to influence all the spheres of people’s lives. The authorities did not only tell people what to eat or wear, the situation was far worse: the authorities controlled what people read, where they worked, how they behaved, where they traveled, etc., and people had no right to express their viewpoint if it differed from the official one. They controlled the public with the help of propaganda, secret services, such as Committee for State Security, and people’s high communist ideas. The authorities made everyone believe that the good of the community was more significant than their own good. Thus, the state was more important for people than friendship and even family bonds. If people noticed that someone did something strange, illegal, or even immoral, they could tell Committee for State Security about it. Many individuals got in jail for nothing. Russian people are aware that there is no democracy in the country, and there is still propaganda and dictatorship. However, unlike their ancestors, they have the possibility to stay focused on their own lives. The authoritarian order does not differ much in reality, but the authorities hide their cruel activities and their direct influence on all branches of power. The world is different now, and authoritarianism is not in trend.

Unlike the USSR, Russia is more dependent on other countries and economies. In the USSR, there was the “Iron Curtain,” so the country consumed what it produced. The state involved many countries and used all their resources to survive without the assistance of other countries. Today Russian people got used to imported goods that are better in quality and more diverse. Russia cannot refuse from goods from other countries because it cannot replace them. Russia is more dependent on the world than it tries to seem.

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To conclude, despite many people’s beliefs, Russia differs from the USSR. Its economic system is market-oriented, but not command; its political regime is less cruel, and unlike the USSR, the country will not survive for a long time without other countries’ assistance.

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