Thursday, August 17, 2017

‘There was Always Toilet Paper in the Soviet Union but Only for the Privileged’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 17 – Many foreigners and indeed many Russians believe to this day that there was no toilet paper in the USSR until sometime near the end of that state, but in fact, as a debate that has broken out on the Internet suggests, “there was always toilet paper in the Soviet Union but only for the privileged.”

                Asked by The Question whether it is true that “in the USSR, toilet paper appeared only in 1969?” the q-and-a portal reproduced some of the answers it received:

·         A Russian student too young to have had direct experience wrote in that “the production of toilet paper in the USSR began only in 1968” at a plan in Leningrad oblast which made use of two English machines.  Its production initially attracted “zero interest” from Soviet consumers because they “simply didn’t know how it was supposed to be used.” And “only after a massive ad campaign” did purchases take off and turn toilet paper in the USSR into a “deficit” good for which people stood in lines for hours.

·         Another visitor the site, Ksyusha Krapiva, 46, confirmed this, but she said that during her childhood, newspapers continued to be used because there was no toilet paper in the restrooms of Soviet schools.

·         A third visitor, Vladislav Shikhov, said that while it was true that toilet paper wasn’t available in many places, it had always been produced. According to him, it was listed in a 1956 list of products Soviet firms were manufacturing. It was thus available to some Soviet citizens even if it wasn’t to most.

·         And a fourth visitor, journalist Aleksandr Budris, suggested that toilet paper production had an even longer history. He noted at that a Lithuanian factory had begun producing toilet paper in 1923.  But as the portal’s editors pointed out, Lithuania wasn’t part of the Soviet Union then.

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