Monday, September 7, 2020

Russian Government Wants to Do Away with Complaint Books in Stores

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 6 – The Putin regime is restoring many of the noxious features of the late Soviet period, but now it wants to eliminate one of the few ways Russians then and now could registered their displeasure at bad service and poor goods in Russian stores and other facilities – the once ubiquitous complaint book.

            Such books, in which a customer could register his anger in the hopes that someone somewhere would pay attention, have their origins in tsarist times. Anton Chekhov even wrote a classic short story about such a book in a railway station that Russians used to register their concerns about a wide variety of subjects.

            But the complaints book came into its own in Soviet times and has survived.  But the Putin regime, which has on many occasions sought to limit the impact of the citizenry on those above it, is now pushing to do away with this rare example of feedback (

           Many Russians especially in Soviet times were reluctant to use such books, but their existence symbolized the respect for their opinions that the authorities talked about even if they did not actually show. Now even that symbol is being removed, yet another way that the Kremlin is telling Russians precisely what it thinks of them. 

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