Staunton, November 7 – Many people inpost-Soviet countries are nostalgic for Soviet past because it was when they wereyoung and hopeful – or because they were born after the USSR ceased to existand have only seen an air-brushed picture of what life was really like in thattotalitarian country.
Odessa resident Dmitry Bakayev hasorganized a house museum with various artifacts from those times, some rare andsome common, some frightening and some merely funny, in order to fightnostalgia by forcing visitors to confront the reality that they have onlydreamy recollections or imaginations of (belsat.eu/ru/programs/nostalgiya-po-sovku/).
TheOdessa resident is especially interested in having young people visit – hismuseum has no admission charge – so that they won’t be misled by their parentsor others.Those who smoke are offeredSoviet cigarettes, and those who drink are offered cocktails made of cleaningfluids and other liquids as described in Venedikt Yerofeyev’s classic Moscow-Petushki.
Hishouse museum is modeled on that of a wealthy Soviet diplomat of the 1980s. Itis filled with all kinds of things from Soviet times, ranging from thepossessions of Soviet maniac Andrey Chitakilo about whom Soviet people onlytalked in whispers because the official line was that there were no maniacs inthe USSR.
Thereare Soviet toys and some extremely exotic things, including a lamp from the houseof African dictator Bokassa who was both a close friend with the Brezhnev eliteand a cannibal.A Soviet chef was sentto prepare Bokassa a meal only to find human body parts in the dictator’s refrigerator.The chef ran to the Soviet consulate but theytold him to do his job.
Afterall, “the motherland knows,” the Soviet diplomats said.
Visitorsare clearly impressed in exactly the way Bakayev hopes.“Anyone will be nostalgic about hischildhood,” one said, but that doesn’t mean anyone would want to go back to whatit was really like. And ever more visitors are lining up to visit. The museumhost says he is worried about running out of Soviet cigarettes and detergentshe needs to make Soviet cocktails.