This article examines letters on glasnost sent to the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party in 1987 and compiled by the Central Committee’s Letter Department in a booklet for the Politburo in 1988. Contextualized by other sources from the archive of this Letter Department and others, these sources begin to illuminate how the Central Committee’s Letter Department functioned and how it evolved during Perestroika. These letters also allow us to begin to incorporate more ordinary citizens’ conceptions of glasnost into the history of this concept. These sources show at least four definitions of glasnost that circulated in the first years of reform. None of these definitions coincided with the liberal concept of “freedom of speech”. The conversation about glasnost in these letters challenges the common liberal teleology of studies of Perestroika, highlighting the distinctly Soviet nature of those who wrote letters and the concepts they wrote about.
This article proposes a new theoretical framework based on conflict escalation theory and the concept of critical junctures to facilitate a more transparent analysis of the war in Ukraine’s Donbas. It argues that researchers have proposed a variety of causes of the outbreak of violence in the region. However, in the absence of an overarching theoretical framework, it remains difficult to analyse the interplay of these causes and compare their explanatory power. In response, this article develops a theory-guided escalation sequence model. According to this model, the conflict’s formative phase consisted of an escalation sequence that lasted from April until August 2014 and comprised six critical junctures. This article argues that attempts to explain the conflict should be evaluated and compared in terms of their ability to explain these critical junctures. It concludes that similar escalation sequence models could improve research on armed conflict beyond the case of the Donbas.
Images of workers were ubiquitous in Soviet visual culture. Other than in capitalist countries, the Soviet visual regime was inextricably linked to the faces of working people; workers were elevated to the ‘status of icons’ in newspapers, journals and movies alike. According to Soviet ideology, every worker contributed to socialism, which is why everyone was worthy of portrayal. The article traces the discussion among professionals and readers in Soviet journals about how to portray working people both in their professions and their everyday lives. In the 1960s, Soviet photographers actively propagated a shift from portraying the profession to portraying the individual. A close reading of photographs published mostly in Sovetskoe foto details how Soviet photo-graphers aimed at capturing individuality in the first place, how photography helped establish typical and un-typical notions of individuality and work, and to which extent the a-typical became the new typical.
This article analyzes the turn to the emotional in advice literature on aging and its reception in the 1950s–1960s. “Positive emotions” were proclaimed a decisive factor in remaining healthy while old and being a productive member of the society. Yet, a close reading of the multiple narratives of aging written by a retired professional propagandist Tatiana Ivanova (1898–1968) reveals a tension between the prescribed “positive emotions” and feelings of sadness and uselessness caused by retirement, unfulfilled promises of the Soviet welfare system and particularly health problems that did not quite fit with the approved repertoire of an aging communist. This article seeks to enrich our understanding of late Soviet subjectivity by focusing not on just “speaking” or “thinking” but also “feeling” Soviet.