Wednesday, November 7, 2018

On Bolshevik Coup Anniversary, Odessa Man Fights Soviet Nostalgia with Artifacts from the Past

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 7 – Many people in post-Soviet countries are nostalgic for Soviet past because it was when they were young and hopeful – or because they were born after the USSR ceased to exist and have only seen an air-brushed picture of what life was really like in that totalitarian country.
            Odessa resident Dmitry Bakayev has organized a house museum with various artifacts from those times, some rare and some common, some frightening and some merely funny, in order to fight nostalgia by forcing visitors to confront the reality that they have only dreamy recollections or imaginations of (

            The Odessa resident is especially interested in having young people visit – his museum has no admission charge – so that they won’t be misled by their parents or others.  Those who smoke are offered Soviet cigarettes, and those who drink are offered cocktails made of cleaning fluids and other liquids as described in Venedikt Yerofeyev’s classic Moscow-Petushki.

            His house museum is modeled on that of a wealthy Soviet diplomat of the 1980s. It is filled with all kinds of things from Soviet times, ranging from the possessions of Soviet maniac Andrey Chitakilo about whom Soviet people only talked in whispers because the official line was that there were no maniacs in the USSR.

            There are Soviet toys and some extremely exotic things, including a lamp from the house of African dictator Bokassa who was both a close friend with the Brezhnev elite and a cannibal.  A Soviet chef was sent to prepare Bokassa a meal only to find human body parts in the dictator’s refrigerator.  The chef ran to the Soviet consulate but they told him to do his job.

            After all, “the motherland knows,” the Soviet diplomats said.

            Visitors are clearly impressed in exactly the way Bakayev hopes.  “Anyone will be nostalgic about his childhood,” one said, but that doesn’t mean anyone would want to go back to what it was really like. And ever more visitors are lining up to visit. The museum host says he is worried about running out of Soviet cigarettes and detergents he needs to make Soviet cocktails.

No comments:

Post a Comment