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Confessions of CCCP wearers

In a tale that in many ways mirrors my own ‘spiritual t-shirt wearing development’, Tim Newman explains his attachment to his CCCP t-shirt:

In some way I’m trying to project the image that I have a connection with Russia and its people, and trying to show that Russia still exists and is worth considering even if it is very different from the days of the USSR. Wearing the CCCP t-shirt achieves this to some extent, although I prefer to wear my Rossiya one, which gets worn weekly as opposed to once every 3 months.

But then he decides that a link to Russia isn’t a good enough reason to wear a t-shirt marking communism…

…I may leave my t-shirt folded in my wardrobe for the forseeable future. It is of appalling quality and fit (it being bought in Russia after all), and I was never too comfortable wearing it anyway – both physically and ideologically.

I must confess that I, too, own a faded well worn red t-shirt with a CCCP Hammer & Sickle logo.  I picked it up several years ago in a funky little Montreal shop packed with revolutionary t-shirts because I desperately wanted to go to Russia one day and this, along with a little Russian flag I also picked up that day, were markers of my intention.  I was a little uncomfortable with what wearing the CCCP logo said about me but, it was the only thing in Russian I could find, so wear it I did.  I was going to Russia one day, and I wanted everyone to know about it (mainly so that I’d have no excuse to back out).

Because, even as a Westerner, I was uncomfortable with the idea of wearing my CCCP t-shirt, you can imagine how shocked I was to find that, when I did finally arrive in Russia, almost every teenager with pretensions to style was wearing one too (although all of them, it has to be said, looked far, far cooler than I ever could).  To my embarrasment, I never actually managed to get around to asking anyone exactly why they wore the CCCP logo, but I couldn’t think of a better reason than Tim’s – to be close to one’s country.  But, all the same, once I’d seen what communism had actually done to Russia, what a wreck it had left behind, I could never feel the same way about wearing my t-shirt.

Yes, I do still own it.  I doubt I could ever bring myself to throw away – its like one of those comfortable old shirts that us men can never quite seem to part with, because of the memories they contain.  But, all the same, these days the CCCP t-shirt lies unworn in my wardrobe, nourishing moths, and I go out about town in my Aeroflot t-shirt instead.  Russia’s International Airlines, it proclaims in tiny but bold yellow lettering, taking that venerable old Soviet standard bearer and, for good or ill, turning it into a vibrant symbol of Russia’s capitalist future.  The lettering may be peeling off, it’s may be just as red as the CCCP t-shirt and it’s certainly just as tatty, but whether you love Russian capitalism, or hate it, it still screams out ‘I love Russia!’


  • For years, one of my friends’ biggest ambitions in life has been to own an original Lev Yashin jersey. Yashin was the USSR goalkeeper in the 1950s and 60s. He wore an all black strip, and is thought by many – including, of course, my aforementioned friend, to be the finest keeper in the history of the game (by ‘the game’ I am, of course, referring to football).

    I haven’t seen him wearing one recently though, so I guess it’s still his biggest ambition.

  • How strange. Just two days ago I scrapped the hammer and sickle as my LJ icon because it was too much like using a swastika. I was uncomfortable with it.

  • Sadly not – and even sadder, I don’t think I have a scanned picture to show. Mine has no winged logo, just says ‘Aeroflot’ then, in smaller letters beneath ‘Russian International Airlines’. The cool thing about this t-shirt (or at least I think so), is that it’s written in Russian, cyrillic letters and all.

  • Sorry, I’m having trouble with Typepad comments today.

    That sounds like a pretty cool t-shirt, instantly recognisable by Russians.

  • I have a very bizarre Mao shirt. It’s got his face all huge and whatnot on it, but beneath it is something written in Chinese and then, in English, “I know communism doesn’t work.” You can see it here. It is so perplexing that I had to have it.

    I don’t have any USSR clothing, but I am tempted to get some gold chains and one of these.

    I do, though, have flags of some of the Central Asian SSRs and the Armenian SSR (which was misrepresented as Kazakhstan, I think), a bust of Lenin, and some WWII posters. For what it’s worth, I view them as Cold War trophies.

  • i am an australian of latvian descent and i would hate to sound too anatagonistic but i HATE it when people walk around in hammer & sickle shirts. my whole family was blacklisted to go to the siberian gulag prisons (women & children included) just because some were educated and they owned land (which was against the soviets’ ideology of collectivisation). My great uncle was sent to siberia for 15 years or so of backbreaking labour because he was a poet and a voice for the latvian people (estimated 3.3 million ‘prisoners were sent to the camps). It’s lucky the german’s came (ironically) and the rest of my family was saved from this fate. But they were all split up and half of them were lucky enough to end up in canada, america and australia. the rest lived under culturally, physically and socially oppressive rule for more than fifty years and this only ended in 1991, and they didn’t leave our country in a very good state. the repercussions of those times are still seen today in latvia as it tries to fix its problems. The three Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia lost approximately a third of their populations (deaths and emigrations) because of the Russians and Germans but mainly the Soviets. Now when i see a loser walking doen the street with a hammer and sickle on their chest i am surely reminded of all of these things and more. I understand that most people are simply ignorant of these things, but unless you have a real political opinion about why you are wearing it, please don’t. It is estimated that under Stalin’s regime 10 million people died (6 million from famine and 4 million from oppression), he died in 1953. My country and others were ruled up until the 1991. Hitler oppressing people for no more than 9 years but would you wear a swastika on your shit as you do a hammer and sickle? bit of a double-standard i have always thought!

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