What was the sound of a miner helmet banging against the Gorbaty bridge? How did glasnost allow to track aliens? What are the top places for seeking shelter during a pogrom? These questions and many more are addressed in the book “Ona razvalilas” (“It Fell Apart”) and the pages in social networks under the same name.

Everyday “It Fell Apart” publishes pictures, documentary and feature films, eyewitnesses’ stories, excerpts from books and documents. We make posts relevant to the current news on a regular basis. For example, we posted about Soviet troops withdrawal from Afghanistan on the day of the first Russian withdrawal from Syria.

The Anarchists’ Barricade near the White House

We started this group at the times of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014: the confrontation at the Maidan Square, military clashes in the Crimea, the takeovers of city administrative buildings in Kharkiv and Luhansk, the first blood during the war.

That summer we were exchanging pictures and tapes of the late USSR period, bringing back memories of what happened 25 years ago through the actual news headlines. It reminded us long-forgotten newspapers: we speak about protesters’ clashes with OMON Special Police Unit (Russian loose equivalent for SWAT) in Riga and Vilnius, using army in Tbilisi, the war campaign in South Ossetia, pogroms against Armenians in Baku. We want to show how people saw those events — and we try to recreate the course of history. Russian school completely misses out the story of the 1980-90s. TV shows ignore these topics as well. On the rare occasion of remembering these events, they are labelled in a strictly negative way, disregarding that it was a colossal experience of social transformation.

Community Groups

“It Fell Apart” represents a system of interconnected groups in social networks. History is the main focus of our research study. In other words, it is a new cross-platform approach to the media. We do not limit ourselves to geography or a specific time period, yet our core, most appealing to our audience topic is the newest history of ex-USSR and the Eastern bloc countries.

After three years the audience of “It Fell Apart” reached 115,000. Summing up the whole family of our historical groups, our audience amounts to half a million followers. Here are some of our projects:

The Book

For Russians, the past is always a way of self-identification and a way of political discussion at present time. “It Fell Apart" is a way of documenting the post-Soviet memory spaces (in the way Pierre Nora, a French historian, meant it).

Our powerful presence in social networks gave mighty boost to our launch. We published the book in June 2017, and by February 2018 we had already sold more than 4,000 copies and organized presentations in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. While composing this anthology, we analyzed the newsfeeds of that period, compared what and how the future public opinion champions were saying. On the other hand, we interviewed active participants, eyewitnesses and those who lived during those years: an activist, a narcologist, a ufologist, a businessman, a retired, a sectarian, an environmentalist, an engineer, a refugee, a musician.

To analyze the miners’ movement, the funeral market and the problems of special storages we interviewed the relevant experts.

See the contents

Authors

Dmitry Okrest
A reporter with RBC news agency. Previously worked for The New Times magazine and contributed to GQ, “Russki Reportyor” (The Russian Reporter), “Bolshoy Gorod” (The Big City”) and Snob. A co-author of "A Life without a State: The Revolution in Kurdistan" anthology.
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Stanislav Kuvaldin
PhD in history, an expert in contemporary history of Poland. Contributes to Republic, Colta, Arzamas and “Otkryty Mir” (The Open World). Previously worked for Gazeta.ru and “Kommersant”. An expert in The Russian International Affairs Council. Contributed to “1917. The Free History” multimedia project.
Evgeny Buzev
A reporter, SMM-editor, creator of “It Fell Apart”. Contributes to OVD-Info, Snob and “Otrkryty Universitet” (Open University). Previously an editor in a publishing house.
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Reviews

VHS, White House, Grozny: the authors of “It Fell Apart” speak about the untold 80s and 90s
It is a tridimensional picture by the Observer, who turned off his own internal judge
The iconic songs of the era, followed by the pictures of the First Chechen War and striking miners, the forgotten movies of Perestroika period are mixed with the first commercials.
Not yet articulated but already a vivid opinion of those who are in their 30s today — Youtube-hero Yury Dood or the authors of “It Fell Apart”. It pictures the 90s as tragic but at the same time, you know, the most authentic and true time, the time of the historical drama, where modern Russia was born.
The main goal is to line up political, cultural, and social events, prove the equal importance of memories of syringes in the postboxes and the 1998 default, racket and the vague legal system.
A truly fresh review of that decade, free of stereotypes, including the anti-Yeltsin ones.
“It Fell Apart” is not only about overcoming the stereotypical views of the 90s. It revives numerous long-forgotten realities of living during those days.
Tales by the participants in the events prevent us from forgetting the main point: the history of what happened 25 years ago is still not over.
The dissolution of the empire is a key event of both the centenary and the relatively new history. All kinds of stories are gathered here: the history of burial rituals, life and fate of dime literature king, media-partisanship by ORT journalists.
The nostalgic vogue of the 90s is a response to official labelling of that decade as a failed one, making the next one seem most favourable. The project is somehow similar to “Namedni” (Recently) by Parfyonov, but is as different as the internet is different from the TV. Faster. Closer to the audience. Politically incorrect.
The book fights the selective memories, adding the complexity to the overall picture by the only means of fragmentation.
The book originated from the social network group includes both the stories of the ones who lived in the 90s and the texts from the VKontakte content.
What do you remember about Perestroika and the 90s? Journalists made a test of a collective memory of the departed epoch based on “It Fell Apart”.

Publishing House

“It Fell Apart” is published by the Dmitry Pozharsky University Publishing House, a subsidiary of Russian Foundation for Education and Science Support. It publishes the popular scientific literature about sociological, philosophical, geopolitical, ethnographical and religious studies.

The publishing house issued books by Immanuel Wallerstein, the creator of world-systems approach to analysis, György Lukács, the founder of Budapest school of philosophy, Ahmed Rashid , a Central Asia expert, Georgy Derlugyan, a researcher of guerrilla movements, Edward Luttwak, the creator of geoeconomics concept.

The pictures from the book’s presentation

Sources

The composition of “It Fell Apart” is an attempt to overcome the collective injuries of the isolated 90s epoch together with the group subscribers. The true success of “It Fell Apart”, both the group and the book, is sourcing the user-generated content like family stories or pictures from family archives.

The core of this group is a pack of scanned pre-election newspaper God Forbid!, poems by the Republic of Ichkeria VP Yandarbiev, pictures by the participants of “Pamyat’” (Memory) society meetings, the White House defendants commenting the posts and Bogdan Titomir music videos on VHS-tapes. Those born before the Fall will easily rewind the tapes of their own memories when they hear these names. Those born after will be confused by the odd faces and gestures of transitional period people — OMON on the streets of Riga, “dembel” (demobilization after the obligatory conscription service) celebration, Eurodance banquet.

The Future

The first part of “It Fell Apart” anthology was naturally unable to cover all the issues. Many relevant topics of the 90s’ history were missed out from the book and will partly be explained in the second book of “It Fell Apart” anthology. We want to dwell on organized crime, history of dance music, separatism, cooperative cinema, history of psychotherapy and the crash of Socialist regimes in Eastern Bloc.

We are also working on publishing the anthology about the First Chechen War and the popular scientific anthology “Junta Express” about Sub-Saharan Africa.

Idi Amin, President of Uganda