Communal Living in Russia: Video Tours
Tour 1. Where Daddy Used to Live: 4. Where He Slept
  Ilya brings his young children to his former room and talks about his large family, the partition, and watching TV through its reflection in the polished armoire.
  Basic Facts and Background
  When: Summer 2006

Where: A room in a communal apartment in a building in the prestigious historical center of St. Petersburg.

Who: 1) Ilya Utekhin, who lived in the building for over 30 years. At the time of filming he still had a room here, which we see, though he lived elsewhere. 2) Manya and Vasya, Ilya's children, on their first visit to the building; 3) Sveta, who has been renting Ilya's room for over two years under very advantageous conditions; 4) Slawomir, who is filming.

What: In 1924, this entire eleven-room apartment was given to Ilya's great-grandfather, Vikenty Cherezov, a Party economic manager who was arrested in 1937 for ties to Kamenev and Zinoviev, and died in the Gulag in 1938. Other families were gradually moved into the apartment and eventually the Cherezovs were left with this single room. In the 1960s, when the apartment had over fifty tenants, six people were living in this room.

Almost all the furniture here belongs to Ilya. The dishes on display belonged to his grandmother Elizaveta. The books and other contemporary items are Sveta's.

The partitions were removed two months before filming. A renovation has been scheduled for the near future. The neighbors from the clip "The Roof Garden" in this Tour also removed their plywood partitions and brought them out to the terrace—see the photo Door to the roof garden and part of the terrace.

  Translation of the Russian Transcript
  Vasya: Papa, where did you sleep?

Ilya: I slept, how can I explain this, I slept in that room.

Vasya: There?

Ilya: Yes, in different places. And I slept in another room too. I had a little bed there.

Ilya: I want to show the children something. I want to show them the balcony. Look, this is the balcony we saw earlier. But when I was little everything was different, not like now, because there were six people living here. What's left now is—if you look up, you can see what's left of the divider. There was a divider here, a big wall. So everything was a little different. Grandma Liza lived here, and Grandma Zhenya, and a few more grandmas who you don't know and who don't know you. But everybody lived together.

Ilya: I remember that there was a little stand in that corner, with a television on it. A really old television. And here there was a wardrobe, and the way my bed was set up, I could see the reflection of the television on the shiny wardrobe, and I used to think I was seeing something. Okay, say goodbye to Sveta. Goodbye, see you!

For credits, copyright, and contact information please see the "About" page at Communal Living in Russia: A Virtual Museum of Soviet Everyday Life,