Episode 1 – The Beginning of the End

Greetings, Tovarischi! In this episode: The economy of the USSR, craziness of Khruschev and plans for the future episodes. Leave your comments below, and don’t forget to tell everyone you know about this podcast!

The Eastern Border
The Eastern Border
Episode 1 - The Beginning of the End
About Curonian 6 Articles
The humble creator of this podcast - living in Riga, Latvia, and trying to give you the best that I can.

14 Comments on Episode 1 – The Beginning of the End

  1. Just listened to the podcast. Fascinating. There was a culture of black market trading. I guess it’s everywhere, but for an average person was it an everyday trade in the USSR? How secret did it have to be? Did people use encrypted communication?

  2. Well, basically, it worked through personal connections: you want to buy jeans? Go to a party with someone who knows someone, and get the person a few bottles of vodka…it was word of mouth through connections. And, of course, there were some people in your local community to whom you didn’t talk about this. And they tended to get a lot of…weird gifts now and then. Lingo? Well, the people who were doing this were called: “Farcovschiki” but that’s about it.

  3. Duration: 1:01:21 | Size: 30.14M

    I think something is wrong with the download linked file. I’ve tried multiple times and the 30.1 mb file is only 32:55 in length rather than over an hour as described.
    I wouldn’t be fussed except Itunes no longer has episode 1 available and I want to download the whole first episode to listen to it in transit rather than just play it on the website.
    Thank you.

    • Heyhey. We checked on this. The problem seems to be with downloading from mobile devices for some reason, so while fix this, download on your computer and transfer to your mobile device. Or, try a different player, as we’re on multiple things, for some reason – google us up and take a look. The Interet is not optimized for us, Latvians, and many solutions are simply unavailable or very expensive. 50$ mean much more to me, than you. But we’re doing our best. Thank you for listening. ?

  4. a naive summary account of Jewish otkazniki/refyusniki lies about the USSR. Interestingly, Khrushev, 30 plus years after his death, is still feared of.

  5. Korolev (not Korolevsky) has served 2 years in harsh conditions where he has lost most of his teeth etc.
    Only after that period he was moved to a “Sharashka” (a gulag for intelligent workers, i.e Tupolev).


    I came here because I heard you talking on challengingopinions.com and I felt you were very informative and trying to be as objective as possible. I’m history nerd myself, originally from Latvia, and really like your podcast. But these small inaccuracies lessen the authenticity (at least for me). I hope you won’t take this as an insult, and I understand that fact checking every anecdote is impossible, but as I really like and respect what you do, I felt I had to give this input.

    Thank you and keep on the good job!

    • Firstly, thank you for writing in to us! Secondly – I meant Korolev in that episode, I was super worried and inexperienced back then, and must’ve mispronounced the name or something. We get better later, I promise. Maybe I should really re-record at one point? 😀 And…yeah, enjoy the show.

  6. Wow I’m really glad I found this podcast. I needed to beef up my cultural awareness and understanding of Eastern European countries and people from that area. I work with colleagues born and raised in the Baltic countries, an area I know so little about. I’ve felt sometimes challenged in communicating with them because of our cultural differences. The first 15 minutes of this episode really opened my eyes. I’m learning so much. I look forward to enjoying more episodes. I hope listening will help me in building stronger relationships with my teammates. Thank you so much for your work, it is much appreciated.

    • Whoops. Meant to post this under Episode 2 The Soviet Army. Oh well, the sentiment still applies.

  7. Well done!

    If you ever visit the US, consider paying a visit to one of our Latvian diaspora schools! The upper classes (7th/8th grades) would benefit immensely from even a single brief lecture like yours. We are sorely lacking in any materials that can teach them what it was really like under Soviet occupation.

  8. The story of Pavlik Morozov is rather complicated and morally ambivalent one. The most plausible version in my opinion is that he denounced his father to be the “enemy of the people” only because he, his mother and siblings were constantly beaten, harrased and humiliated by this above-mentioned person who happened to be drunkard and promiscuous villain. Pavlik personally seemed to be rather sympathetic kid, who was nevertheless understandably brought up in the loyalty to Communist ideology. But it is completely true that his tragic fate was interpreted as a disgusting paragon of treachery by the state propaganda. In modern Russian culture “Pavlik Morozov” is unambiguous nickname for scorned denouncer, wich is not as said above historically justified. Actually, this podcast contains numerous unhistorical myths and legends, so I’m afraid it would be tedious even to list them…

  9. I’ve just discovered your podcast and am really enjoying it. Just a small point about this episode: the KGB did have a foreign espionage directorate, so it was an analogue of both the FBI and CIA. In the 1990s it was split up to form the FSB (internal security) and SVR (foreign intelligence). Throughout all this time the GRU (military intelligence) has remained the same.

    The NKVD was the interior ministry (Narodny Kommissariat Vnutrennykh Del), which covered police (militsiya), firefighting, prisons, secret police, internal and state security but also foreign espionage, among other things. After WW2 it became the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) which still exists today, while it’s state security, secret police and espionage sections were split off to form the Ministry of State Security (MGB) which in 1954 became the KGB.

    The Cheka (Chrezvychainaya Kommissiya – Extraordinary Commission) was the name of the first Bolshevik secret police organisation formed in 1918 and renamed after the Russian Civil War. Members were called “Chekists”. While the official name of the organisation changed many times until it became the KGB, and indeed it underwent several reorganisations, mergers and splits, it claimed a lineage from the original Cheka and at least until the KGB was disbanded and split up in 1991, members were unofficially called “Chekists”. As far as I know there was a sort of mystique attached to the name, from the “heroic” years of the revolution, when they were battling against counter revolutionaries, the White Armies etc. and they had to build the organisation from scratch. It’s possible that FSB officers still call themselves Chekists, but I’m not sure.

  10. Love the ranting mood of this episode. I have just started to listen, and I hope to reach the most recent ones soon.

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