What similarities did Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have in the '90s? This retrospective photo story depicts the household items of the 1990s, most of which, were novel for these newly independent countries at the time, but outdated today.
It was the ‘90s, a time of Armenian independence, the Karabakh conflict, an economic crisis, and ubiquitous low quality of food, and many protests at the Freedom square.
For someone born in the USSR, this was a time of strict changes and new order. People became more troubled. “Everything has changed dramatically, as if in one night, we weren’t ready for it, but we got used to it and the interesting part was that we revealed the extent of our own flexibility and overcame many difficulties.
“We had electricity and water only a few hours during the day, there was no fuel for a kerosene heater and the kids had to learn their classes before getting dark… but… we were more happy and united, we had victory, we were sharing everything and were enjoying each other’s happiness”. Madam Anahit’s country house is like a museum of ‘90s goods.
“My children asked me to get rid of this junk stuff, but I couldn’t, as they were not just goods of the ‘90s, but the history of those years”, -says Anahit.
Even after 25 years, the legacy of the ‘90s has become a kind of symbol of nostalgia for the Soviet period for some, while the struggle for independence and freedom stands out for others. After 70 years of living together, the life of 15 republics collapsed in one moment, and it was necessary to get accustomed to the new rules and new life. The conflicts in the post-Soviet countries, the lack of food, clothes, lack of electricity and gas, all of which characterize the ‘90s.
To borrow money under the high percents destroyed the people. They had to sell their houses, and instances of suicide increased. There was crime, war, drugs. People tried to seek entertainment. The bars opened. Everyone wanted to be forgotten.
Nostalgia for the real symbols of this era - is not a new phenomenon. Views towards the years of the ‘90 are very ambiguous, very contradictory, they are all different, and everyone has their own nostalgia. The complete freedom, sometimes turned into anarchy. The opportunities to travel abroad became permitted- to easily receive a foreign passport - and then say hello to America.
In Azerbaijan, as well as in all the neighboring post-Soviet countries, the ‘90s are considered very important and crucial, and traces of the restructuring are felt to this day.
What do people remember from the ‘90s? In social networks, the generation of the ‘90s reflects their memories, fragments of stories, the socio-political life.
So, Ilkin Alisoy, 29, says that time is considered very poor, but at the same time, happy. "In the '90s we had more freedom and modernity, the mind and the level of people’s intelligence was different. The people in the ‘90s were much more modern and open than it is today "
Tural Gurbanli, a 26 year-old journalist, remembers how rare it was to see someone in the jeans, in the city center, he says, “everybody was speaking in Russian, the first four buttons on the t-shirts of men walking along the boulevard were open.”
Another active Internet user, Fuad Èminov, also calls this period more interesting. He said that the society was more politicized. The enthusiasm of the ‘80s was felt until the end of ‘98s. In politics, there was more freedom. The parliament was built more on pluralism. Such a big monopoly, as it is today, was not in the economy. “he economic level of the people was much lower than today, but the trends such as ‘to take a loan in order to have an Iphone’ did not exist”.
Housewife Rena Shalbuz, 27, remembers the ‘90s. "Though, I was a little girl, I remember clearly the queue for bread. I remember the crafts for all women; all sewed at homes. I remember the delicious cakes of our mothers. Yes, not only baking but home Dutch cheeses, candies, delicacies. I remember my high-quality Soviet toys,that passed from generation to generation. I remember the news about the war and speeches of Elchibey ( the second president of Azerbaijan). They were on black and white televisions without remote controls. And women with perm hairstyles".
Farida Mamedova, 32 years old, a housewife, associates the ‘90s with dark and unpleasant memories. "There was shooting, fear, pressure on Russian-speaking people, agitation near the school in order not to send them to the Russian sector. It became easier when the borders were opened; local production has given way to “komissionka” (small private shops). Then, the privatization of objects and checks".
Kamran Makhmudov, a freelance journalist, says that in every sense of the word, it was a transition period. "From a period of occupation, it switched to independence. The economy became privatized. Everyone thought that it is a democratic period, you can do anything you want. Young people think that life is westernized the way, which was shown to us in the soap operas. Watching the Turkish and Brazilian TV series, they were trying to be like them. Both in clothing and in lifestyle. It was poverty. But there was hope, faith and spirit. Everyone tried to support each other. There was only one concern, war and and bread to eat."
The decade of the 1990s in Georgia is characterized as the poorest period in the century. Recovering from the Soviet collapse, the independent country overcame two ethnic wars as well as a civil confrontation. Rising unemployment, starvation, a plummeting economy and territorial deterioration raised inflation and the number of criminals. Whereas most of foreign trade markets were closed for Georgia, people had to use Soviet inventory to adopt it by handcraft.