This American photographer captured the decline of the USSR like nobody else

Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
Peter Turnley’s collection of photographs depicts the essence of the late Soviet era and the birth of independent Russia.

The Soviet Union was nearing its end by the late 1980s. Although it hadn’t collapsed yet, its political and economic systems were showing cracks. Shortages of consumer goods and food and overall poverty spread throughout the member states of the Soviet Union.

Economic problems weighed heavily on human conditions, forcing people to find ways to survive in new realities. Nonetheless,  children were still studying and playing, students were partying - in general, people were adopting and life went on, albeit in a different manner.

A few Siberian women sell miscellaneous articles to earn desperately needed money. Their community of coal-mining and steel-manufacturing is suffering from widespread economic hardships.

Renowned American photographer Peter Turnley captured some of the most intimate moments of the dying Soviet civilization as it was approaching its inevitable end.

Considered an expert of photography specializing in the “realities of the human condition”, Peter Turnley has covered moments of historical significance around the globe for years. He witnessed the Gulf War in 1991, as well as conflicts in the Balkans, Chechnya, Somalia, Afghanistan, Rwanda, South Africa and many others.

Two miners sit in a shower room after their shift. They live in a poor coal-mining and steel-manufacturing town enduring widespread economic hardships.

In addition to newsworthy topics of geopolitical significance, Turnley is famous for his street photography. His unique photos of life in the decaying Soviet empire permeate the aura of this time and era.

Some of Turnley’s photos show raw life in the USSR, like this one showing an old at a food market in Moscow.

Food Market in Moscow.

Yet, most of Turnley’s photography produced in the USSR simply depicts the daily life of ordinary citizens who just lived their lives, even while events of historical significance swept throughout their country, changing it forever.

Demonstrators link arms on the Red Square in September 1991 as the Congress of People's Deputies meets in the Kremlin following a coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev.
A woman sells meat.
A man with a cage of doves at an animal market in Moscow.
Siberians Lining up Outside a Store.
Man Pulling Children on a sled.
A group of punks.
Daily life in a village in Russia in 1991.
Demonstrators gathered to protest the August Coup in 1991.
The Cathedral of St. Basil, one of the most striking landmarks of Moscow.

Click here to see UNIQUE photos of 1950s USSR taken by an alleged U.S. spy.

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