Most of us would probably agree that the old Soviet Union had a lot of defects as a political system, yet it had at least one feature to be praised: it was a source of great jokes about itself. In this sense, it is almost a pity that it has gone away. Here is a number of these jokes. Some come from various sites in the internet, other as heard by the author. Some might be easily adapted to other, similar, places and times and probably are much older than the Soviet system. The ultimate origin of all these stories is unknown, but some have said they all originated in some specific place in Alma-Ata, where apparently people are renown for being quickly witted.
Stories about Stalin
Of course, the majority of candidates refused to shoot their own mother and so did not pass the test. A few did manage to shoot the old lady, perhaps because they were truly ruthless or perhaps because they were smart enough to imagine that the gun would only fire blanks. But with the young Stalin things went a different way. The examiners heard several shots, then a tremendous noise. Then Stalin came out of the room holding the gun and saying: “What the hell! This gun doesn’t work! I had to kill her with a chair!”
There is this story about a group of political prisoners meeting one day in a concentration camp, somewhere in Siberia. After a day of back-breaking work, they sit eating their thin potato soup, and hearing the icy wind blowing through the broken glass of the windows of their barrack. As they hug together to get a bit of warmth, they tell each other of how they ended there. They were trozkyists, revisionists, sicophants, or other enemies of the people. One of them, though, has a long story to tell.
“It was not because of politics. I was the head master of a school, a kindergarten, actually. Just that, I never got involved in politics, not at all. But one day I heard that Stalin in person was going to visit my school. So I started thinking very hard about what I could have done to impress him, and. I asked to the children if they had something that they would like to tell to comrade Stalin. So, there was this little girl, so nice, who said: “Well, I would say this to comrade Stalin: my cat has just had a litter of five kittens and they all are good communists”. I was delighted of having such a promising young pupil and some days afterwards, when Stalin came, I hastened to introduce her to him. So the little girl came up and said aloud: “Comrade Stalin, my cat had a litter of five kittens and they are all good liberal democrats”. As Stalin’s guards were dragging me out, I could still ask the girl a question: “Why in the world did you say that? Hadn’t you said last time that the kittens were all good communists?” And she answered: “Yes, but by now they have opened their eyes”.
Stories about Breznev
Comrade Breznev is giving a speech at the inauguration of the Olympic games in Moscow. So he climbs up at the lectern and sorts out of his pocket a sheet with the text to read. Then he says “ooh…” five times.
Breznev lies motionless on his deathbed. Comrade Andropov comes in: “Comrade Breznev……” he says. Breznev does not answer
“Comrade Breznev…..” says Andropov a bit more loud.
“Who’s that?” answers Breznev in a weak voice
“ It’s me. Andropov…..”
“Ah, well, what are you doing here?
“Comrade Breznev, I came to say hello to you for the last time…..”
“Why? Where are you going?
Stories about Eltsin
Eltsin goes to visit his former comrade Shevardnadze in Georgia. Shevardnadze is now president of Georgia, and Eltsin is met with great honors, and he is particularly impressed by Shevardnadze personal bodyguard: they look professional, motivated and very efficient. “Yes,” says Shevardnadze: “These guys are fantastic. They are all fanatics, first they were trained by Al Qaida and then by the CIA, too. They are completely faithful to their president. Come, I’ll show you”.
So, Shevardnadze calls up one of the guards and tells him: “Soldier, are you faithful to your president?”
“Will you do anything your president orders you?”
“ So, pull down your pants, take your bayonet, and cut off your… - you know what -“
The guard does exactly as ordered, and then backs away. Eltsin is - of course - very impressed. As he gets back to Moscow, he can’t get the idea out of his mind. So, one morning, he calls one of the Kremlin guards in his room.
“Soldier” asks Eltsin, “are you faithful to your president?”
“Will you do what your president asks you?”
“So, pull down your pants, take your bayonet, and cut off your…. - you know what -“
The soldier looks at Eltsin and says:”Boris, now you are drunk even in the morning?!”
This is an old joke about one of the first sputnik satellites, put into orbit the 50s carrying a dog named “Laika”.
What does the Sputnik consist of?
A Siberian Joke
There is this small village, some 500 miles north of Novosibirsk, which stays buried in the snow for most of the year. Just a for a few days in August, people can get out of their houses and meet each other. So, one day in August, Boris sees that snow has molten and he comes out. Then he sees his neighbor Ivan just coming out of his house. “Privet, Ivan” says Boris in Russian. “Good morning, Boris” answers Ivan in perfect English. Boris is flabbergasted: “Where did you learn such good English, Ivan?”. “I will show you, Boris!” Ivan gets back into his house and comes back carrying a radio set: “You see? I have been listening to American radio programs all winter, and so I have learned English!”
So, Boris thinks he needs a radio, too. The day after, he sorts out his sledge (in the meantime, it started snowing again), and goes to Novosibirsk. After a few days travel, he gets to the people’s store, and asks for a radio set. Of course, there are different models and different prices:
“We have this very advanced American set: hear stations from all over the world. It goes for a thousand rubles”
“Too expensive, have you anything else?”
“Well, there is this German set, very good. 3 hundred rubles.
“Too much. Something else”
“Hm, this is a nice Czech set. It works fine for seventy rubles”
“ I think it is still a bit too much”
“ So, we also have a Russian made set. Soviet technology, only ten rubles”
So, Boris buys the Russian set and goes back to his village. Winter comes, then another summer. Snow melts, and the people of the village meet again each other in the open. Ivan greets Boris saying in an even better English: “Good morning Boris”. And Boris answers: “zzzzzz……. s…pt!!…..crch…… zap! ssshhhhh……”
This Joke was generated (in Alma Ata?) by the news of the death of Princess Diana.
After the death of Princess Diana in a Mercedes crashing against a concrete pillar in Paris, it is said that some car companies tried to exploit the event in their advertising. So Volvo put out an ad where Diana appears saying: “If it had been a Volvo, I would not have died”. Russian car makers where worried about this ad, and tried to counteract with some of their own. So, Moskvitch had an ad where Diana says: “If it had been a Moskvitch, I would not have suffered at all”, and Lada: “If it had been a Lada, I would never have crashed into a wall at 200 km/h”
A joke about "Kagate" and American spies. Told to the author by an Ukrainian friend
During Soviet times, the government required to intellectuals (scientists, researchers, etc.) to show that they did they did not shun manual work in the service of the people. For this reason, they were periodically required to move to the countryside to perform such tasks as, for instance, separate spoiled fruit from the good. These periods of work were known as "kagate" and, as understandable, they were not popular with intellectuals.
Now the story has it that the Americans had sent a spy to Russia. This spy was disguised as a scientist and was provided a false identity to work in a major research center in order to steal the secrets there. The spy was American born, but was so well trained in Russian that he had absolutely no accent, knew practically everything about Russian culture and ways, so nobody could detect him.
One day, the boss of the American spy called him in his office and told him: "Very well, Ivan, now it is your turn to perform "kagate". You will go tomorrow for two weeks". Ivan the American said yes, but was baffled since his training had not included the concept of "kagate", which could not be found in regular dictionaries. So he was rather worried. He went to see a coworker of him, and said "Well, Boris, I'll work in your lab for the next two weeks, do your work, clean everything, just go in my place for this kagate for two weeks". But Boris says that he'd rather resign or clean up everybody'd glassware in the whole research institute. So, the American goes to see his girlfriend and says" Irina, if you go in my place for the kagate I'll clean up the house, renew the carpet, and do everything you ask me". But Irina says shed'rather shoot herself.
After several more attempts the American is so worried and baffled that he decides to give himself up. He goes to the local KGB office, rings the bell and says "I am an American spy. Arrest me". The local police interrogate him and write down his confession with all the details. Understandably, the KGB men are happy for such an easy catch, but they ask their prisoner: "Why did you give yourself in now?" The American answers: "you know, today my boss told me that tomorrow I have to go for "kagate"......."
At this point, the KGB men look at each other in the face. Then they grab the American and they throw him out of the door, free. As they close the door in the face of the baffled American, one of them says to the others: "it is unbelievable what they won't do just to avoid kagate........"