Masha 16,
High school student

I was a Pioneer when I was younger. But then in the 7th grade, we decided to stop wearing our red Pioneer scarfs to school. We used to wear those red scarfs with school uniforms -- those brown dresses with pinafores -- but one day, by agreement, everyone just came to school in jeans.

Some of the teachers got upset, and told us, "You are Pioneers, you need to take these things more seriously." But in the end, they only really scolded us a little bit. A month later, they changed the rules at school so we didn't have to wear the uniforms and scarves anymore.

People my age don't really think too much about politics. Other than making fun of Yeltsin or the communists or whoever, we really don't think about these things. When I think of Lenin, I picture this short, bald little guy waving his arms at some tribunal. Even though he was obviously very smart -- he got the whole country to follow him, after all -- now he's just somebody to make fun of.

The only thing I miss from the Soviet era is those old films they used to make, where everybody is smiling and happy, and always kind to each other. Growing up, I always thought of Leningrad as a place where the sun was always shining, because that's how it was in these movies. Everybody helped each other, and cared about each other.

But those movies are the only thing I miss.

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