Passport system

Passport system
30 December 2015

Have you ever wondered why do we need to give our passports whenever we want to purchase something in Russia? Passport is the only ID system allowed in Russia, in order to have control over the population and its activities this system was created, here’s the story.

On December 27, 1932, the modern passport system was introduced in the Soviet Union. Abolished for a short spell of time after the October Revolution of 1917 as manifestation of the Tsarist backwardness and despotism, passports in the country were reinstated, along with severe limitations of freedom of residence, demanded by the socialist regime. Though the passport system existing before the Revolution was not so harsh, as lengthy and complicated, Lenin objected that in Russia, passports should be abolished to give more freedom and no police officer would dare stop the peasant from working or living where he wants.

However, the necessity to bring the passports back became obvious as early as in 1919. The Soviet government had to take severe measures to stop peasants and workers from moving from place to place in search of better life, as they did under the condition of total all-encompassing. Issuing the so-called “labor records” were a part of the policy to fight “labor defections”. It was a powerful tool to keep workers on their workplace as these papers were the only ones to guarantee workers food coupons, which were literally vital.

The passport system of modern Russia came forth in 1932, as the nationwide process of industrialization and collectivization demanded to strictly control the population moving from the rural to the industrial regions and back.

The military and collective farm workers didn’t get passports and without it, all of them were glued to the place of their residence, risking to be arrested if they left it. In the late 1950s, at the same time passports no longer contained indication of the criminal record of a person or his past as prisoner of war. The collective farm workers started to freely receive passports only after Stalin’s death. Until 1981, 50 million passports were issued.

The passport also required compulsory registration on the place of the permanent residence which means regime cities, first of them being Moscow, then Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, other capital and large industrial cities, was hard to get and easy to lose, and had even more limitations. The purpose of it was to spread the population evenly and avoid metropolises and to prevent presence of the undesirable individuals, frequently visited by foreigners.

The Soviet passports were changed nationwide to the Russian passports in 1997 till 2003.

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