G.M. Ivanova. The quality of life of a Soviet person in the mid-1950s through the eyes of Finnish journalists // Petersburg Historical Journal, no. 4, 2022, pp. 62–71
The article, based on materials from the TASS Bulletin of Foreign Official Information, reveals the details of the stay of a delegation of Finnish journalists in the Soviet Union in October 1954. Upon returning from the trip, the journalists published several dozen magazine articles and newspaper reviews in the local media. The top party leadership, which, after Stalin’s death, took a course towards creating a new international image of the Soviet state, closely followed the responses of the foreign press to the events in the USSR. The publications of Finnish journalists did not go unnoticed either. To inform the Soviet leadership, the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS) published in a secret bulletin a special closed letter from its own correspondent from Helsinki, which included a selection of materials from the Finnish media. Very ambiguous and not always loyal publications of Finnish journalists about the quality of life of a Soviet person contained, in particular, information about Vyborg and its inhabitants. In general, the Soviet Vyborg appeared in the image of Finnish journalists in the most unattractive form. Guests from Finland also visited Leningrad, Moscow and Georgia. The most detailed articles by Finnish journalists covered their stay in Moscow. Along with laudatory reviews about the sights of the Soviet capital, the publications contained many negative statements about the standard of living of the townspeople. The authors did not seek to reveal the advantages of socialism to Finnish readers, but tried to give objective answers to elementary questions: how do ordinary Soviet citizens live, what is their standard of living, what clothes do ordinary people wear, what and at what price do they buy in stores, etc. This approach of Finnish journalists caused a disapproving reaction from the Soviet leadership, since it naturally led readers to think about the low standard of living in the USSR. Modern historical knowledge makes it possible to characterize the position of Finnish journalists as objective, and to recognize their assessment of the quality of life in the USSR as quite adequate.
history of the USSR in the 1950s, responses from foreign press, Finnish media, quality of life in the USSR.
Ivanova, Galina M. — Doctor of History, Chief Researcher, Institute of Russian History of the RAS.