Soviet Union U.S.S.R. or Russia: More Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the Soviet Union U.S.S.R., Greek orthodoxy, the Communist Party and repression of art and science.



About 4/5 of Soviet women between 20 and 25 now work full time and enjoy equal status with men in the labor force. Women comprise more than half the country's doctors, economists, and teachers and about 1/3 of its engineers, lawyers, and judges. From 1959 to 1965 the number of full-time housewives dropped by half. But sexual equality has not worked its way into the home yet since the Soviet male does not keep house or rear children. Consequently the working woman is still a half-time housewife. Without many of the Western appliances, she spends 35-40 hours a week on domestic duties in addition to her outside work, while her husband spends no more than 20 hours.

Nor are women equal to men politically. Though comprising more than half the adult population, women form no more than 1/5 of the party membership. Only 6 sit as full members of the Central Committee and none at all sit on the Politburo.

Early Russia was converted by Greek Orthodoxy. When Ivan III married Sophia, the niece of the last Byzantine Emperor, the Russian monarchy then became the standard-bearer for the Orthodox Church. Because of this tie to the czarist regime and its opposition to the theoretic grounds for materialism, the communists shut the Church down when they took power. But to get more popular support during W.W. II, Stalin made peace with the Church and allowed it and other religions to flourish on a limited basis. Judaism did not fare as well, however, and because of recent persecution, 6 to 10 times as many Jews are trying to emigrate today as did 5 years ago. Although they are well-educated and fill the professional ranks, they have a double burden to bear: They are officially suspect as "rootless cosmopolitans" insufficiently loyal to the Soviet state, and also as supporters of Israel. Traditional domestic anti-Semitism has now been fortified by Soviet foreign policy interests in the Middle East.

The party's treatment of writers led to a protest movement in 1966 which grew out of the trial and conviction of 2 young writers, Andrei Sinyavski and Yuli Daniel. The protest demanded a "return to the socialist legality"--the right to speak, write, and publish freely, and the abolition of illegal trials, censorship, and religious persecution.

Scientists and academics have also mounted protests for greater information, expression, travel, and human rights, but few of these have been imprisoned or exiled because the Government views their services as indispensable to the society.

Because of the repression, writers, scientists, and other dissenters have resorted to an underground press or samizdat which mimeos and circulates banned manuscripts. These have been primarily novels, plays, letters from prison camps, protests against unfair trials and imprisonments, petitions to the UN on behalf of human rights, open letters to the regime, and chronicles of illegal party or government actions against human rights. (For further information, see Samizdat: Voices of the Soviet Opposition edited by George Saunders, distributed by Pathfinder Press, 410 West Street, New York, N.Y. 10014.)

Though Russia did not start industrializing until the late 19th century--and then, the communists insist, only on a minor scale--her industrial production is 2nd only to the U.S. It consists mainly of oil, steel, electricity, cement, pig iron, and other heavy industrials as well as foodstuffs and textiles. Much of this heavy industry goes into the production of armaments, especially missiles and warships. As in the U.S., defense and exportation of arms are big business, important economically as well as strategically.

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