In the beginning of the 1990s, the USSR went through a drastic crisis that included a decline in the standard of living, but at the same time new reforms allowed increased freedom of speech and media. Up to that time, the television and government always said the USSR is big and rich and has everything. Mikhail Gorbachev was the ﬁrst leader who had the courage to admit that the USSR was bankrupt and had nothing, not even enough food. He opened everyone’s eyes to these problems, and with the new reforms and freedoms, laid groundwork for a strong protest movement. During the ﬁnal years of the USSR anti-Soviet demonstrations in Moscow and Leningrad drew hundreds of thousands of people.
The sign reads: “Communists of Russia! Are you with Lenin or with Gorbachev?” Gorbachev was perceived as anti-Leninist and anti-communist, and Lenin as the revolutionary ideal. The partially-legible sign behind has the word “maﬁa” in it.