Thursday, August 23, 2018

Radio Armenia Jokes Return to Help Russians Cope with Growing Social Inequality

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – Yet another revenant from the Soviet past is surfacing and becoming increasingly important in Russia today: Radio Armenia jokes that people in the USSR often used to comment upon and even cope with the problems of that repressive regime under which they were forced to live.

            Radio Armenia jokes were always in the form of a question and an answer, and often dealt with the most sensitive issues. There were hundreds if not thousands of these “anecdotes.” Some Soviet citizens went to jail for telling them, but far more would have been confined to prison had they made the same point in direct speech. 

            Some of the best Soviet-era ones – and those below are taken from a recent online collection ( – include:

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “What will the results of the next Soviet elections be?” Radio Armenia answers: “No one can tell. Yesterday, someone stole the exact results of the next elections from the offices of the Central Committee.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: ‘Could an atomic bomb destroy our beloved Yerevan?” Radio Armenia answers “Yes, in principle. But Moscow is far and away a more beautiful city.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “Does one get ten years in prison for saying that Brezhnev is an idiot?” Radio Armenia answers “In principle, yes, because that’s a state secret.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “Would it be possible to build socialism in the Sahara?” Radio Armenia answers “yes, but after the first five-year plan, we’ll have to import sand.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked “Is it true that there is freedom of speech in the Soviet Union the same as there is in the US?” Radio Armenia answers “In principle yes. In the US, you can stand in front of the Washington Monument and shout ‘Down with Reagan!’ and nothing will happen to you. In the USSR, you can stand in front of the Mausoleum and yell ‘Down with Reagan!’ and the same will be true.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “Is it true that the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky committed suicide?” Radio Armenia replies “Yes, it’s true, and we have a record of his last words: ‘Don’t shoot, comrades.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked “What is socialist friendship of the peoples?” Radio Armenia answers “That’s when Armenians, Russians Ukrainians and all the other Soviet people unit in a fraternal matter and set out to beat up the Azeris.” 

Igor Eidman, a Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle, offers four new Radio Armenia jokes (

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “Is it possible to meet a Russian oligarch in a line?” Radio Armenia answers “Yes, if this is a line for permanent resident status in the US or in Europe.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “And where in Moscow is it simplest of all to catch sight of a patriot of Russia?” Radio Armenia answers “In the line for permanent resident status in the US or Europe.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “And where do Putin’s friends stand just like ordinary people together with simple mortals?” Radio Armenia answers: “In line for permanent resident status in the US or Europe.”

·         Radio Armenia is asked: “And where then does democracy in Russia remain?” Radio Armenia answers “Haven’t you understood that this too is in the line for permanent resident status in the US or Europe.”

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