The crowded but cozy, two-room apartment where Aleksander and Alyona Rumyantsev lives in northwest Moscow once belonged to Alyona’s great-grandparents, who received the apartment from the Soviet government.
The small rooms and running water were a drastic improvement from the barracks they had moved from in 1963, where they shared a kitchen and stood in line for the outhouse.
The five-story, brick apartment block was constructed in the early 1960s for workers from a nearby factory as part of a national program started in 1955 under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. Hundreds of thousands of the prefab, box-like structures were erected across the former Soviet Union to house nearly 54 million people.
“These houses are the blood and sweat of our grandparents,” Aleksander Rumyantsev said. “They built a life here for us, and we don’t want to lose it.”
The long, simple block structures became known as Khrushchevki, and they remain an enduring remnant of the former communist state.