Anastasia Edel is a San Francisco-based writer who grew up in southern Russia, and is the author of Russia: Putin’s Playground: Empire, Revolution, and the New Tsar (2016). (November 2017)

Follow Anastasia Edel on Twitter: @AEdelWriter.

NYR DAILY

A Soviet New Year, With Mayonnaise

The author in a “Snow Maiden” costume at her grandfather’s house for the New Year, Novorossiysk, Russia, 1980

Without mayonnaise, there could be no New Year in the Soviet Union. But you could never just buy mayonnaise. You could only get it, sometimes in a favor exchange, sometimes at a special distribution center for important people, like party members or employees of the commerce sphere, most of whom were party members also, so it was one and the same thing. Some trade union members could access mayonnaise, too, though I never figured out which ones; my mother’s union couldn’t.

Putin’s Russia: Revolution, What Revolution?

A woman holding a placard that reads,

Russia is no longer a country forged in the crucible of revolution; it is the land of the tsars and the Orthodox Church. Out went the relics of communism, with its mass demonstrations and portraits of Lenin; in came the relics of the Orthodox Church, with its miracles and icons. In the new lyrics of the national anthem, still sung to the old Soviet tune, “The unbreakable union of free republics” becomes “Russia, our sacred dominion.” In this revised version of Russian history, Vladimir Putin appears as the savior tsar.