26 June 1928 While the centre feels ‘European,’ houses in the outskirts are small and dirty; the Communist party is the nucleus of the future bourgeoisie – and they drink more than anyone else

Moscow is still, as it always was, a big village. Only the centre of the town, where the boulevards are, is “European.” There the streets are well paved; the shop, windows are attractive (although the shelves inside are empty and dusty). Electric trams and buses are plentiful. Placards and advertisements (some of them very beautiful) are abundant. Theatre, picture-palace, and music-hall announcements are suspended across the streets like huge banners. There are loudspeakers in every square. The streets are crowded, and in the early summer sunshine far more beautiful and heavily rouged women are to be seen than in winter. Foreign newspapers can be bought at the kiosks, but only such numbers as do not contain any more news than the Soviet press. For example, when the fate of Trotsky and of the Opposition was being decided we were without foreign newspapers for a week.

Strong drink is plentiful. Wine can only be bought in special shops. Vodka can only be obtained in small quantities in the centre of the town – but it is abundant elsewhere. It is possible to get vodka of pre-war quality but “plain vodka” is more usual, although it is a downright poison. The peasants prefer a distillation of their own.

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Read More Life under the Soviets in Moscow and its surroundings – archive, 1928

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