Wed, 20 Jan 2021

What was life like in Soviet Caucasus Republics

12 Jul 2020, 04:54 GMT+10

History July 11 2020 Nikolay Shevchenko

Vladislav Mikosha/МАММ/МДФ/ This is what communism looked like in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan when they were Soviet republics.

The Soviet Caucasus was famous all over the USSR for its wine, health resorts and colorful local traditions.

Nature and architecture

The Caucasus is a mountainous region. People who live there take pride in this fact, as they believe harsh conditions strengthen their characters. Ancient monasteries standing lonely among mountainous landscapes is a common occurrence in this area. Yet, the Soviet past greatly influenced the local landscape, leaving monuments and buildings that are very characteristic of the Soviet urbanism behind in its wake.

A monument to Vladimir Lenin in Azerbaijan.

Sergey Shimansky/МАММ/МДФ/

Lenin Square in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Sergey Shimansky/МАММ/МДФ/

How Tbilisi, the capital of Soviet Georgia, looked like in 1971.

Viktor Yershov/МАММ/МДФ/

An observation deck on top of a mountainous pass in Georgian SSR, 1988, a typical landscape in this area.

Alexei Pogorelov/

While cities are full of Soviet monuments, ancient monasteries are scattered in the mountains.


Some locations in this region looked uncharacteristically exotic for Soviet people. For example, an old street in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Mark Grudsky/ МАММ/МДФ/

Maiden Tower, a 12th-century monument in the Old City, Baku, Azerbaijan.

Mark Grudsky/ МАММ/МДФ/

What living quarters in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenian SSR, looked like.

Sergei Shimansky/МАММ/МДФ/russiainphoto.ruFaces of the region

Although many Soviet people regarded the Caucasus as a single region, because of the three republics' similarities in landscape, climate, economy and other spheres of life, there were still many striking differences between Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan Soviet Republics.

An old Georgian man in 1971.

Viktov Yershov/МАММ/МДФ/

An Azeri man in the 1970s.

Georgy Argirupulo/МАММ/МДФ/

An old Armenian man in the 1960s.

Vsevolod Tarasevich/МАММ/МДФ/

Female locomotive engineer Ghulam Gasanova in 1943.

Evgeny Haldey/МАММ/МДФ/russiainphoto.ruEntertainment, socialization, and pastime

Just as in other Soviet republics, people actively socialized with their colleagues and neighbors. Dancing was a popular pastime and the Caspian Sea, the pride of Azerbaijan SSR, provided a unique vacation site for the people of the region and the whole Soviet Union.

Sailing boats in 1935.

F. Shevtsov/ МАММ/МДФ/

Sailors dancing with young women in Georgian SSR in 1944.

Evgeny Haldey/МАММ/МДФ/

A woman at the Arzni Resort in Armenian SSR photographed in 1951. There were a lot of resorts in the region where people from all over the Soviet Union went for vacation and health treatment. Some of the resorts were famous for their mineral waters.


Parents socializing with their children in Baku, Soviet Azerbaijan, in 1955-56.

mark Grudsky/ МАММ/МДФ/

Children walking across a street in Sumqayit city in Azerbaijan in 1959.

Evgeny Haldey/МАММ/МДФ/

Some people preferred privacy. A girl by herself in Batumi, Georgian SSR, in 1938.

Vladislav Mikosha/МАММ/МДФ/

People resting at the Friendship sanatorium in Georgian SSR in 1957.

Vsevolod TarasevichМАММ/МДФ/

People resting in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR, in 1939.

Arkady Shaikhet/МАММ/МДФ/

People walking on the street of Tbilisi in 1971.

Viktor Yershov/МАММ/МДФ/

A woman in Armenia in the 1960s.

Vsevolod Tarasevich/МАММ/МДФ/

Cheering fans at a stadium in Armenian SSR in the 1960s.

Vsevolod Tarasevich/МАММ/МДФ/russiainphoto.ruRural life

Farming and stockbreeding were some of the key economic pillars in the Soviet Caucasus. These three republics supplied fruit, tea, milk, meat and, most remarkably, wine and tobacco for the whole Soviet Union. The Soviet leadership considered they had to support the republics economically and therefore bought these products at inflated prices to kickstart the local economies. Soon, this approach paid off.

An Armenian man inspecting tobacco leaves in the early 1960s.

L. Bordukov/МАММ/МДФ/

A woman harvesting grapes in Georgian SSR in 1938.


Women working with tobacco leaves in Armenia in the 1950s.

Boris Kudoyarov/МАММ/МДФ/

A collective workout exercise in an Azeri farm in 1936.

Vladislav Mikosha/МАММ/МДФ/

A young Armenian boy looking after his livestock in the 1960s.

Vsevolod Tarasevich/МАММ/МДФ/

Armenian farmers measuring the weight of harvested cotton in 1955-1965.

L. Bordukov/МАММ/МДФ/

People working at a tea plantation in Georgian SSR in the 1950s.

Boris Kudoyarov/МАММ/МДФ/

The region is famous for its wine production. Wine produced locally was exported to all the other republics of the USSR.

МАММ/МДФ/russiainphoto.ruClick here to find out what life in Soviet Ukraine was like.

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