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Champagne And Stagnation: The 1980s In Russia

It was a decade that marked the beginning of the end of the U.S.S.R. But behind the crumbling Iron Curtain, life rolled on in the cities and villages, and Russians found fun where they could.

All pictures courtesy of the Russiainphoto.ru photo archive.

Final touches before a night out in 1980.
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Final touches before a night out in 1980.

The U.S.S.R.'s Buran spaceplane being moved toward its launchpad in 1988. The craft had its maiden launch that year, successfully orbiting the Earth without a crew before being permanently grounded due to the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2002, Buran's storage hangar collapsed during a storm, killing eight workers and destroying the shuttle.
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The U.S.S.R.'s Buran spaceplane being moved toward its launchpad in 1988. The craft had its maiden launch that year, successfully orbiting the Earth without a crew before being permanently grounded due to the fall of the Soviet Union. In 2002, Buran's storage hangar collapsed during a storm, killing eight workers and destroying the shuttle.

Firefighters dwarfed by a blaze on the coast of Russia's oil-rich Caspian Sea in 1980.
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Firefighters dwarfed by a blaze on the coast of Russia's oil-rich Caspian Sea in 1980.

A shepherd girl grazing sheep in the Altai mountains in 1980. 
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A shepherd girl grazing sheep in the Altai mountains in 1980. 

 Disco came late to the U.S.S.R. A dance class in Novokuznetsk in 1983.
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 Disco came late to the U.S.S.R. A dance class in Novokuznetsk in 1983.

Leonid Brezhnev on holiday in Crimea. At the time this 1982 picture was taken, the Communist leader was a barely functioning figurehead of the U.S.S.R. He died later that year. 
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Leonid Brezhnev on holiday in Crimea. At the time this 1982 picture was taken, the Communist leader was a barely functioning figurehead of the U.S.S.R. He died later that year. 

The funeral of Soviet leader Yury Andropov broadcast to a town hall in Novokuznetsk in 1984. Between the end of 1982 and early 1985, three elderly leaders of the U.S.S.R. died in quick succession.
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The funeral of Soviet leader Yury Andropov broadcast to a town hall in Novokuznetsk in 1984. Between the end of 1982 and early 1985, three elderly leaders of the U.S.S.R. died in quick succession.

The Russian thrash-metal band Corrosion Of Metal a year after its 1988 album Order Of Satan was recorded. In 2016, band founder Sergei "Spider" Troitsky (center) was imprisoned in Montenegro for arson; but in March 2017 he claimed to have escaped prison and returned to Russia, where he plans to front the band once more.
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The Russian thrash-metal band Corrosion Of Metal a year after its 1988 album Order Of Satan was recorded. In 2016, band founder Sergei "Spider" Troitsky (center) was imprisoned in Montenegro for arson; but in March 2017 he claimed to have escaped prison and returned to Russia, where he plans to front the band once more.

Flooded streets in Novokuznetsk in 1984. 
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Flooded streets in Novokuznetsk in 1984. 

An arm-wrestling contest in the village of Ferzikovo in 1981. 
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An arm-wrestling contest in the village of Ferzikovo in 1981. 

A couple pushing through a soft spring field in 1980.
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A couple pushing through a soft spring field in 1980.

Akatsiya self-propelled artillery units rumble across Red Square during a military parade in 1984. 
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Akatsiya self-propelled artillery units rumble across Red Square during a military parade in 1984. 

An old soldier, relaxing with a balloon and a cigarette in central Moscow in 1980.
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An old soldier, relaxing with a balloon and a cigarette in central Moscow in 1980.

A machinist on a break in 1980. 
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A machinist on a break in 1980. 

The kids are Russian, the motorbike is Czech, but the flag is Confederate: Bikers on the streets of Moscow in 1989. 
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The kids are Russian, the motorbike is Czech, but the flag is Confederate: Bikers on the streets of Moscow in 1989. 

Lunch break in the AvtoVAZ factory in the town of Tolyatti, where Lada cars are still made.
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Lunch break in the AvtoVAZ factory in the town of Tolyatti, where Lada cars are still made.

Lenin's image being paraded on a newly minted Lada in Tolyatti. The industrial town was named after the leader of the Italian Communist Party after the Lada manufacturing plant was established in the 1960s as a partnership between Russia and Italy.
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Lenin's image being paraded on a newly minted Lada in Tolyatti. The industrial town was named after the leader of the Italian Communist Party after the Lada manufacturing plant was established in the 1960s as a partnership between Russia and Italy.

Plane-shaped crowd, on a runway in 1980.
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Plane-shaped crowd, on a runway in 1980.

Queue at the newsstand in Novokuznetsk in 1982.
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Queue at the newsstand in Novokuznetsk in 1982.

"Queue for vodka" on a cold day in Chukotka in 1985.
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"Queue for vodka" on a cold day in Chukotka in 1985.

The road to a temple at an unidentified location in 1980. Official U.S.S.R. policy sought to do away with religion, and most churches were left to decay through the decades of Soviet rule. 
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The road to a temple at an unidentified location in 1980. Official U.S.S.R. policy sought to do away with religion, and most churches were left to decay through the decades of Soviet rule. 

Birthday party getting started in 1988. 
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Birthday party getting started in 1988. 

An old woman with a googly-eyed teddy bear. The 1980 photo is titled "Bad Times."
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An old woman with a googly-eyed teddy bear. The 1980 photo is titled "Bad Times."

Schoolchildren in Novokuznetsk crown a dog with flowers on the first day of school in 1983.
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Schoolchildren in Novokuznetsk crown a dog with flowers on the first day of school in 1983.

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