Communal Living in Russia: Documents
Letters From Soviet Citizens: A proactive denunciation
  Summary
  A collective petition defending one neighbor against a possible denunciation by another neighbor.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: 1964

Where: An apartment in one of the central neighborhoods of St. Petersburg.

Who: The original names of the writers and the address on the scanned document have been made unreadable in the interests of privacy.

What: The petition written by some apartment residents is addressed to the boss of one of the women with whom they live. Its function is proactive: the residents expect that the boss will get a denunciation against this woman from another neighbor, who is depicted in the letter as a pathological complainer. This letter is their attempt to warn the boss by means of their own denunciation.

For some reason (perhaps a cross-out that resulted from attempts to find the right word), this particular document was not sent, and remained as a draft. Complaints, denunciations, and various kinds of petitions were widespread Soviet genres utilized by people to communicate with the government. The government cultivated this means of communication. There were citizens who specialized in sending off complaints about everything and everybody, so that the situation described in this collective letter is completely plausible.

The text of the complaint mentions the "local committee." What is meant is the trade union committee. This was one of the three administrative units present in any Soviet institution or workplace (the two others were the Administration and the Party Committee). Issues related to the social welfare of workers, including housing, were resolved by a triumvirate consisting of the director, the chair of the local Party committee and the chair of the local trade union committee. The letter writers seem to have had reason to suppose that the denunciation would have harmful consequences in the area of social welfare, bonuses, and disciplinary measures; this area was under the control of the workplace director together with the local committee. Since the Party committee is not mentioned, we can conclude that the potential victim was not a Party member.

  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  To the directors and local committee of the department store Gostiny Dvor.

From the tenants of 3 P— St. apartment —.

Declaration.

B— I— B—, who works in your department store, has lived in our apartment together with us for more than 15 years. In the apt. B. I. behaves modestly, normally, politely, and all of us tenants respect her a lot. We are sending you this declaration in case you receive a slanderous declaration from Mrs. R— Â. Á. À. which she has done more than once all these years trying to slander and smear respectable people. The truth is that the R— family (mother 60, daughter 40 and two children) is the scourge of our apartment—they terrorize all the tenants. They do mean things to all the tenants, they're the ones who make scenes and start fights and they're the ones who write slander-denunciations to different organizations against all of the tenants including children.

Mrs. R— even went to school to lodge a complaint against first-graders Sveta and Tanya.

Most of the tenants in our apartment are older people, we are sick and we can't cope with this (unclear; crossed out in the text of the letter).

No matter what Mrs. R— writes, it's a total lie.

(signatures) S—, S—, P—, S—

5/10/64

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