Remembering Brezhnev in the New Millennium: Post-Soviet Nostalgia and Local Identity in the City of Novorossiisk

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
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Abstract

This article examines the way in which "ordinary" Russians remember the era of Leonid Brezhnev (1964-1982). Using various concepts of post-communist nostalgia, it demonstrates that the period is exceptionally popular, but that this should not be construed as an unambiguous desire to revive the "Golden" 1970s. Positive evaluations of the Brezhnev era are often predicated on personal memories of one's youth, which shows that post-Soviet nostalgia is not a "common," but a generation-bound phenomenon. After attempting to explain Brezhnev's popularity in the 1990s and the Putin era, the article proceeds with a discussion of Novorossiisk, a city that claims to have a special bond with Brezhnev and decided to erect a statue of him in 2004. Detailing the controversy over the statue over a period of six years, the author demonstrates the existence of a locally defined Brezhnev "text" that allows the city's inhabitants to remember him as a great leader and a staunch defender of the fatherland, but also to appropriate him for their own political needs.

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