During the last dozen years of the Soviet Union, leading up to its final collapse in December 1991, Russia experienced fundamental transformations on political, economic and social fronts. The country appeared to switch from communism to capitalism, and this, at first, brought fabulous wealth to those Russians able to cash in on the privatisation of segments of state property and real hardship for others. The foreigners who lived and worked in Russia during that period were well-positioned to be able to benefit from these transformations. On the ground in Russia however, they experienced difficulties as they tried to cope with completely different business and social cultures, for which most were ill-prepared.
Political and economic events have been well documented in history books, but what was it like to actually live through those turbulent times? In in-depth interviews, 11 Russians and 11 foreigners who lived and worked in Russia during this period share their experiences. Where appropriate, interviewees are asked about childhood influences in order to help place attitudes within cultural contexts. Some of these oral histories are somewhat shocking; it was a chaotic period. Others are philosophic and some even comical, but all will hopefully be of interest to anybody interested in Russia and Russians. The book has no political agenda but the collage of experiences and opinions may help readers form their own opinion about an extremely important yet often misunderstood, formative period of Russia’s recent history.
Here is a video of a zoom conference for ‘ELE’ (English Language Evenings) in Moscow, 11.12.2020 which, under conditions of strict lockdown, served as a launch for the book.