Lost cache of Soviet newspaper clippings


"This will hurt."

"This will hurt."

My former host family’s apartment was a true-blue relic of Soviet times.

A bust of Lenin that was originally presented in honor of good work to host Vadim Ermeningeldovich’s father greeted me every time I walked in my room. A television so ancient its screen was made of curved glass resembling a kerosene lamp stood in front of my desk. The old guitar that stands, practically unplayable, in the corner had «РСФСР» (“Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic,” the name for Bolshevik Russia during the civil war and then for the country of Russia under the Soviet Union) and a price of 22 roubles (now less than a dollar) stamped beneath the soundhole.

In light of the fact that I was living in a museum – I felt like a child at the museum of American history who had climbed into a “Life in the Native American wigwam” diorama and started pawing at the mannequins with his grubby hands – I always meant to give the place a good going through to discover what secrets lay hidden beneath the endless stacks of old poetry collections and broken radios. Of course, I barely had begun this task by yesterday, when I moved out due to the planned “remont” (renovations). So I started opening drawers and immediately became absorbed in a pile of old Soviet newspaper clippings.

It was hard to find a method to the madness in the choice of yellowed clippings stuck in the notebook. Some conjectures as to an overarching theme (and examples):

<!-Miracles of modern science

“Riddle of nature: the Tasmanian wonder”: “… Talk is going on about an unknown creature, discovered in the sand of the seaside, with a diameter of around six meters and a thickness of over a meter, enclosed in a thick skin with soft fur … In the press a variety of opinions are being proclaimed about the nature of the Tasmanian riddle. Is it an animal arising from the depths of the ocean, unknown to science? A giant skate? The carcass of a whale?”

“A girl by the name of Soa Tsyantsyuan”: About a 15-year-old girl in Ulan Bator who weighs 7.5 kilograms and stands 88 centimeters tall.

“Foreign sensation ‘Snow-woman’ from Missouri”: About a girl discovered buried in the snow and brought back to life after two hours of intensive care.

“ ‘Wonder’ in Japanese medicine”: About an ice-cream truck driver who decided to cool off on a hot day in the refrigerated compartment of his ride, then was discovered “frozen” hours later, only to be brought back to life by doctors.

Biographical material on great Soviet citizens

“In Baguio, 16th of July, match to decide best chess player in the world”: About a 1978 chess match in the Philippines between current world champion A. Karpov and “former Soviet chessmaster (now without citizenship) V. Korchnoi.” While an extensive biography is given for Karpov, the article doesn’t mention why Korchnoi no longer has citizenship. “Soviet chess players believe that A. Karpov will worthily defend his title of strongest in the world and wish him success.”  (Karpov won the controversial match, 6–5 with 21 draws).

“Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov”: A biography of the Soviet leader, with extensive coverage of lots of boring details, like every position he held on his climb up the ladder of the Communist party bureaucracy.

Global population predictions

“Population of the earth”: “New York, 15 February (TASS). By the middle of 1971 the global population consisted of 3.706 billion people, having increased for the year by 74 million. It is expected that at the current yearly population increase of two percent it will double by 2006.”

“Population of the earth”: Similar article from 1984 announcing a population of 4.763 billion, increasing to 6.1 billion by the start of the 21st century.


2 Responses to “Lost cache of Soviet newspaper clippings”

  1. Korchnoi defected, apparently. According to Wikipedia, the Philippines match was fairly interesting:

    The World Championship match of 1978 was held in Baguio in the Philippines, and deserves its reputation as the most bizarre World Championship match ever played. Karpov’s team included a Dr. Zukhar (a well known hypnotist), while Korchnoi adopted two local renegades currently on bail for attempted murder.[14] There was more controversy off the board, with histrionics ranging from X-raying of chairs, protests about the flags used on the board, the inevitable hypnotism complaints and the mirror glasses used by Korchnoi. When Karpov’s team sent him a blueberry yogurt during a game without any request for one by Karpov, the Korchnoi team protested, claiming it could be some kind of code. They later said this was intended as a parody of earlier protests, but it was taken seriously at the time.[15]

    In quality of play the match itself never measured up to the press headlines that it generated, although as a sporting contest it had its share of excitement. The match would go to the first player to win six games, draws not counting. After 17 games, Karpov had an imposing 4–1 lead. Korchnoi won game 21, but Karpov won game 27, putting him on the brink of victory with a 5–2 lead. Korchnoi bravely fought back, scoring three wins and one draw in the next four games, to equalise the match at 5–5 after 31 games. However, Karpov won the very next game, and the match, by 6–5 with 21 draws.

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