Give It All You Got

The 1980 Summer Olympics!

This international sporting event presented an opportunity for the Soviet Union to boast their nation’s capabilities on a world wide platform. However, these Olympic games quickly became a symbol for both international turmoil and politics.

Following the Soviet Union’s invasion into Afghanistan in 1979, Gorbachev and his regime supported Babrak Kamal in hopes to overthrow the President in power, Nur Mohammad Taraki. The invasion was in pursuit of defeating the American backed mujahideen fighters, assisting a staged coup that would place a Soviet loyalist in power. This ultimately led to a decade long battle. As a result, the United Nations placed sanctions on the Soviet Union. The United States led the campaign for this decision as retaliation for the invasion.

Fast forward a year later- the lingering effects of the invasion dramatically impact the 1980 Summer Olympics, hosted by the Soviet Union in Moscow. Over 60 countries boycotted this event!  This included Britain, France, Italy and Sweden. As a result, a multitude of changes ensued in the Soviet Union.

Soviet media began disseminating propaganda that went against the western narrative of the situation-specifically the invasion as well as the remodeling and construction of Moscow. In a politically intense climate, the city faced “a frenzy of construction” including new stadiums, roads, and even an airport. As the world turned away from the Soviet Union, I would like to highlight how this initiated a period of intense Soviet nationalism and pride. For the Moscow Olympics “5.2 million tickets were sold of which 3.9 million were purchased by Soviet citizens.” This bolstered Soviet pride and ultimately increased the rift between the West and Soviet perception.  

At the Olympic games, the Soviet Union teams pushed on. A majority of medals were awarded to the host nation. Over 200 events were held, more than any previous games. Soviet athletes like Alexander Dityatin and  Nikolai Andrianov were amongst the top performers, excelling in the gymnastic portion, bringing home gold medals. Regardless of the underlying political climate surrounding Gorbachev’s administration, there was a successful push in getting Moscow ready for the Olympics and letting the show go on.

Questions for your consideration:

If not for the invasion, would there have been unwavering support for the Olympics? After all, the Soviet Union’s ideals and policies do not align with most Western nations. The invasion was a powder keg to a much deeper political rift and issue.

Should the Olympic Games transcend politics? Over the years many nations, with questionable leaders and political climates have participated and hosted. Where do we draw the line to what we considered acceptable and within reason? If it really is all about the spirit of the games, should politics matter at all?

For Reference below is President Carter’s boycott speech for the Olympics!

Sidenote: Here is a really cool video of the theme song for the 1980 Olympics. (Hence the title). Hope you all enjoy!


Little Blue Light

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Nikita Khrushchev pictured in 1959

Out with the old and in with the new! Following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953,  Nikita Khrushchev comes in to power and the so called “Thaw” begins. Moving away from Stalin’s frigid  societal values, Khrushchev introduces a new era for the arts. In this period there were a variety of developments such as comedies and variety shows. A popular show that emerged in this period of time was Goluboy Onek. The first episode aired in the spring of 1962, This was a popular musical variety show that allowed a variety of guest on. Guest on these shows including laborers, artist, and astronauts!

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DVD series of the popular Russian
Goluboy Onek

The development of Goluboy Ogonek, also known as the Little Blue light. Highlights a variety of things in this time period. In 1956, Khrushchev delivers a “secret” speech to the 20th congress of the communist party. In this he discusses “Lenin’s testament” and denounces  Stalin’s social and military policies. In this oration an interesting point is brought to light (get it) by Khrushchev. He criticizes “the cult of personality” Stalin has created in order to glorify Stalin’s leadership. The significance of this explains why Khrushchev  makes a shift in opening up the media for the people’s entertainment and moving away from a regulated and conformed media. This ultimately plays a large role in the liberalization of families and students in society. The show was named Little Blue Light to depict light being shone on ever soviet family through the episodes aired. This highlights Khrushchev’s ideals of what the media should be like being directly implemented into society.

By analyzing the show Goluboy Ogonek, we are also given an interesting view of  what society was like in this time period. Having astronauts on the show demonstrates the role the space race played in this time period. As well as having soviet laborers depicts the role workers played in this era still. Even though the cold war trudged on this show highlights a bridge closing in between soviet and western society.

Below is a video of a 1963 episode from Goluboy Ogonek:

Work Cited:

“Family Matters”

Following the mass industrialization  beginning in 1917 the Russian family dynamic faced a new shift. There was an increase in children outside of marriage, and generational ties within families weakening.  In 1918 under Bolshevik rule, the “Code of Marriage was established” this then allowed for women to take on a new role. Under this code women were allowed to earn, wages, get educations, as well as request support for illegitimate children. Under this code and in following years abortions were allowed “freely and without any charge in Soviet hospitals” a priority was placed on the safety of women’s health. Provisions for divorce were made as well as a  separation of property. Thus for the first time allowing women to keep belongings and finances following divorce. Under Bolshevik rule the rights afforded to women can be considered liberal even in today’s society.

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Poster depicting a Bolshevik women prior to Stalin’s rise to power.

Therefore, in the thirties under Stalin’s rule there is an obvious shift in gender roles as well as in family life. “On the Protection of Motherhood and Childhood” drafted in May of 1936 this highlights a shift in the new regimes view. In this document, Stalin makes a push for family life to be reestablished and reemphasizes a patriarchal society. In this draft abortions were only for women whose life were in imminent threat. As well as placing an importance on the “great and honorable duty” that was childbirth. Also in 1936, the Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Executive Committee of the USSR issued a decree “On Prohibiting Abortions, Increasing Material Assistance to Women in Childbirth, Establishing State Assistance to Large Families, Extending the Network of Maternity Hospitals, Day Nurseries, and Kindergartens, Intensifying Sanctions for Child Support Payment Avoidance, and Various Amendments to Laws on Divorce.” (A Brief History of Family Policy in Russia, 1917-2013). Though reforms were being made they pushed towards Stalin’s more conservative agenda.

When viewing the abolition of abortion in this era and understanding the larger perspective. In my opinion, it is important to understand that Stalin’s conservative shift in regard to family life. Was more focused on the importance of being able to have control on families and the collective ideologies rather than caring for an “improved family dynamic” though it seems that way.


“A Brief History of Family Policy in Russia, 1917-2013.” The Natural Family,

“Abolition of Legal Abortion.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History, 18 June 2017,

Yegorov, Oleg. “’Children’s Friend’: The Dark Story behind Stalin’s Popular Photo with a Soviet Girl.” Russia Beyond, 15 June 2018,

Zlatoust’s Finest

Three Generations. A.P. Kalganov with Son and Granddaughter. The Last Two Work in the Shops of the Zlatoust Plant

The following picture was taken in front of the Zlatoust factory in 1909. Pictured are three generations of Kalganov’s who work in the factory. The Zlatoust holds significant historical importance for Russian workers as in 1773-1774 workers here participated in Pugachev’s rebellion. This rebellion is the first of its kind which protested brutal and harsh conditions for Russian laborers. Fast forward to the 1900s during the era of Russian industrialization the city of Zlatoust thrived. As one of the centers for metal engravings, weapon development, and mechanical engineering. This city thrived in the age of railroads and industrial boom. Though, laborers were still subject to harsh conditions they once protested decades ago. This plays an important part in the beginning of the revolutionary phase within the Russian empire. Pictured above is Mr. Kalganov in an embroidered caftan as he was awarded for his excellence in leather shearing and scathing work for military officers. Highlighting the specialization of work in the city of Zlatoust.

In class discussions, we addressed the beginning of uprisings in the 1900s. As mass industrialization was felt most by the Russian working class. Workers like the Kalganov’s spent years in factories and were overworked and often underpaid. Like workers in the past who once rebelled against the harsh conditions. This occurred once again in 1903, tsarist workers had to stop a strike planned by Zlatoust workers. Zlatoust became a stronghold during the Russian civil war as the laborers and specialties within the city were an asset to either side. I chose this picture because as we discuss the eve of revolution within the Russian empire. It is important to note places such as this one. Where these workers laid the foundation for the revolution to come. A culture was established in communities such as this one that with the mixture of political and industrial growth leads to a shift in the Russian empire.