It was a subculture shaped by communism, inspired by the west – and watched by the KGB. Now, a new documentary charts the movement’s charismatic leaders, conflicts and future

In 1968, Aksel Lampmann was a teenager growing up in Soviet Estonia. That summer, he went to an international camp, where he met students from Czechoslovakia and began listening to the Beatles. He didn’t understand the lyrics (“No one spoke English back then”), but loved the sound. “We had no clue what they were singing about. What a strange vibration!”

He learned guitar and grew his hair. By 1969, Lampmann had become a full-blown Soviet hippy. The iron curtain made a road trip to the US impossible, so he hitchhiked from his home in the Baltics to Crimea. “Our lives were more colourful, more alive,” he says. “Other people didn’t have the same encounters or emotions.”

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