Leonid Stepanov was born in Moscow in a well-off Soviet family. His father was a proactive member of the party and young Leonid was also dedicated to communist community work projects, being one of the leaders of his university's Komsomol group. For eight consecutive summers, he worked in construction brigades across Russia. During the perestroika, Leonid struggled to finish his postgraduate thesis because of the lack of funding at university. Having finished it, he decided to enter the job market of the transitional economy, which proved to be a rocky road with very different rules to those many were used to in the Soviet Union...
- Postcard Text
- Dear Lyonya! Happy Soviet Army’s Day! I wish you all the very best in your life, but first and foremost I wish you to have a good health for many years, to be happy and to do well at school. Your friend Igor. PS: I'm sorry this is the only card I've found!
- To: Stepanov Leonid Moscow E-86 Matsaghuleva Street 32 App.258
- The Soviet Army Day
- The Soviet Army Day was celebrated on the 23d of February. The holiday is still honoured today under the name of "Defender of the Fatherland Day".
Leonid at the train station at Frankfurt (Oder). In the summer of 1984, Leonid went to Dresden Technical University on a student-exchange program. Going to a summer camp abroad was the dream of every member of a student brigade. It was both an opportunity to travel and a chance to be better paid. But before being sent to more distant locales, students had to first work for a Moscow brigade.
A student brigade on the roof of a Moscow building at lunch break. Student brigades were created in the '50s to involve the youth in building the nation. Leonid and his comrades, students at Moscow Power Engineering University, were sent to work on construction projects in the power-generation sector across the country. Despite the long hours, “It was an opportunity to earn money over the summer and to spend time with friends.”
Leonid with his father at a park in Egypt. At the beginning of the '60s, Leonid's father was sent on a work mission to Egypt, with his family. Exchanges of students and workers between the two countries were quite common at the time. In the '60s Egypt, under the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser, was the leading country of Arab socialism and was strongly supported by the USSR.
Leonid on an excursion to the town of Alushta. In the early 80s, Leonid was a student at Moscow Power Engineering University. Summer camps and community works were an important part of student life. After a preliminary interview with the university Komsomol, each and every student was assigned to a community work brigade.
The students of the brigade at the goodbye party for the end of the season. The students brigades have their own traditions. For example during the construction season new members have to pass a test to became ‘fighters’ of the construction brigades and there was always a coup in the brigade headquarters. All over the season contests, trips, games and sports activities were organized as well as a final party at the end of the season to congratulate the students for their work.