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Travelling inside and outside of the USSR

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tdn
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Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Apr 2014, 11:15
Pioneer
Post 29 Apr 2014, 21:16
Hello everyone,

I have heard a lot about the difficulty for Soviet citizens not only to get permits to travel abroad but also to travel among the republics or even among cities inside a Union's republic.
Could someone here please tell me how much of this is true? How difficult was it to travel inside and outside of the USSR?

Many thanks!
Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 30 Apr 2014, 19:28
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propiska_i ... viet_Union

In the 30s the Stalinist regime re-introduced one the most disgusting inventions of the old Tzarist Empire, an internal (!) passport which prevented f. ex. peasants from leaving their villages without special permits and so on.
Besides the Soviet Union had and RF still has a lot of "closed cities" and such. As far as i know most tourists in the USSR went with the same old Kiev-Moscow-Leningrad route anyway and traveling to other places wasn't ( and still isn't ) that easy or simple.
tdn
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User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Apr 2014, 11:15
Pioneer
Post 01 May 2014, 05:36
Thanks Loz!

So what kind of permit did people need to travel, for example, from Odessa to Novosibirsk? Did they have to have a valid reason (work, visit family, medical treatment, etc.) to travel?
If I were a Soviet Ukrainian citizen in Odessa in the 1970s and wanted to study in Novosibirsk State University because they had great molecular biology program, what did I have to do? Could I just register to study in Novosibirsk, or would I have to study in Ukraine? Could I just buy tickets and board an airplane, a bus, or a train and travel to the other city?
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Soviet cogitations: 4381
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 01 May 2014, 07:00
tdn, first off, welcome to the forum. I have very much enjoyed your contributions here the last few days. I've especially appreciated your opinion on the the Doi Moi reforms, and the link to Vietnamese music.

With regard to travel in the USSR, a Soviet citizen generally didn't need any permits to travel, unless he was going to a 'closed city', in which case it was most likely a 'business' related trip. Trains, planes, and ferries were all heavily subsidized, and so generally even people of limited means could freely travel. Moreover, many employers had vacation packages all or partial expense paid, to the standard tourist destinations (most of them for rest and relaxation on the Black Sea coast).

In answer to your example question, as a student, having fulfilled entrance requirements, you would of course be able to study in Novosibirsk if you so chose, and most expenses, including dorm facilities, books, probably even airfare etc. would be provided for, in addition to a monthly stipend for other expenses.

To repeat, there were no travel restrictions inside the USSR, at least not in the 70s-80s. If you had the money for a ticket, and the money for a hotel and/or a friend or relative to stay with, nothing more was necessary.

To go on a trip outside the country would be more difficult. Generally Soviet tourists underwent a personal evaluation to confirm that they wouldn't defect, and the more important these people were, the more thorough the evaluation was. Additionally, funny as it may seem, tourists were given lectures on how to behave themselves outside the country, reminded that they were informal emissaries of the USSR, educated to some extent about local customs, etc.

...

On the issue of internal passports, I'll talk about later when I have more time, but Loz' description of them is oversimplifying things a bit to say the least.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
Soviet cogitations: 2407
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 01 Nov 2003, 13:17
Ideology: Other
Forum Commissar
Post 01 May 2014, 16:30
soviet78 wrote:
Additionally, funny as it may seem, tourists were given lectures on how to behave themselves outside the country, reminded that they were informal emissaries of the USSR, educated to some extent about local customs, etc.


That is something that still needs to happen. I have heard stories of the way tourists from the country I am living in behave abroad. They give the country a terrible reputation. Some people should simply not be allowed abroad.
tdn
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User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Apr 2014, 11:15
Pioneer
Post 01 May 2014, 21:23
soviet78 wrote:
With regard to travel in the USSR, a Soviet citizen generally didn't need any permits to travel, unless he was going to a 'closed city', in which case it was most likely a 'business' related trip.


Could you please tell me a little bit more about these "closed" cities. Were they "closed" because they were militarily/scientifically/economically significant? How about people who lived in these "closed" cities? Could they travel outside of their cities easily?

soviet78 wrote:
On the issue of internal passports, I'll talk about later when I have more time, but Loz' description of them is oversimplifying things a bit to say the least.


I know what Loz' talked about when he mentioned tropiska. Viet Nam and China have similar systems.
I know how difficult it was to re-locate yourself to a different city/province in Viet Nam. But I'd love to hear about the Soviet reality.

P.S. May I ask if any of you here were Soviet citizens who actually experienced these travelling and residence issues? Since answering this question may reveal something about your personal identity, I will be understanding if you choose not to answer.
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