Author(s): Kurt Johnson
A hybrid of history, travel and journalism. Kurt has long been captivated by 'the communists' from his immigrant grandparents' past, transfixed by stories of the Soviet Union, the place where history happened. In the West, the Soviet universe has long been consigned to the dustbin of history, no longer relevant to a world where the Golden Arches have supplanted the Hammer and Sickle. But what about those still living in the shadow of the USSR? The language and symbols of the Soviet Union have become a nostalgic brand, but after travels to the Balkans, Romania and Bulgaria, Kurt begins to suspect that for some they have retained their former sanctity. He quickly realises he must journey from these outlying countries and visit socialism's giant red heart. Spurred on by a growing obsession to find what remains of this old Red World, Kurt visits the far reaches of the former USSR. From frozen corners of Kyrgyzstan still rocked by ethnic riots, to the ex-KGB headquarters in Moscow; from a rocket launch on the Kazakh Steppe, to an unrecognised gangster state in Moldova; through the irradiated ruins of Chernobyl, to a gulag in Siberia. Staying one step ahead of the secret pol
Kurt Johnson has had travel and other writing published in Crikey and on the ABC website. This is his first long form piece of writing.