Popular Soviet satirical magazine Krokodil illustrated the humor and the underground subculture associated with blat. Though blat was illegal and Soviet sensors controlled the magazine’s output, many satirical pieces about blat and the notorious Soviet bureaucracy still made its way into popular publications.

 

 

A BRIBE-TAKER
P. A. Fedotov, 1840s
--So, tomorrow, Sir?
-- Well, I'll see...

 

 

- OUR FAMILY IN NARKOMAT [MINISTRY] IS A BIG ONE,
BUT ONLY TWO ARE WORKING: THE NARKOM [MINISTER] AND ME.
I BRING THE PAPERS TO HIM, AND HE SIGNS THEM.


TRUE TO HIMSELF
-I need your signature on this document.
-Very well, but first it should be approved by the head office.
-Here is the approval!
-Fine! But now there is no need for my signature!
Artist: Y. Scheglov, Krokodil [Crocodile] satirical magazine , 1962


I REMEMBER YOU BEING SUCH A SMALL CHIEF...
Artist: B. Leo, Krokodil [Crocodile] satirical magazine, 1965

Artist: L. Khudyakov
Poet: V. Suslov
"The Fighting Pencil Group," 1969
I AM NOT IN!
There are people who are in the office exactly at 8,
But... is there a difference if they work or they don't?

Artist: V. Kunnap
Poem: G. Tumarinson
"The Fighting Pencil" 1961
PHONY MILK
In his reports there are rivers of milk
But in the cans there is not one drop.

 

 

Artist: V. Kunnap
Poem: G. Tumarinson
"The Fighting Pencil" 1961
It's now realized even by the cows and bulls...
You can't replace food with amusing books.


Artist: B. Semyonov
"The Fighting Pencil" 1967
WHERE ELSE IS THERE NEED FOR REPAIRS?
Refers to the fact that very often repairmen worked not for their salary but solicited vodka from the tenants of big housing projects.

Artist: V. Kunnap
Poet: V. Shumilin
"The Fighting Pencil" group, 1972
THE HOUSE WITH GHOSTS
He is just a genius for a shady business deal:
Fake names on the payroll he shows as real.
But for his unreal and illusory luck
In the jail for real he can be long stuck.

 

The poster refers to the practice of "dead souls," a term coined after the famous novel by Gogol. In order to reach full employment, the Soviet government overstaffed many organizations. Some "entrepreneurial" persons managed to take care of business in the organizations with much less people than they had on their payrolls and pocketed the wages of the people who were on the list only. These people usually were relatives or friends, or other trusted persons of the managers who took the money. The "dead souls" also could be people who did not work anywhere, but needed to have some working experience recorded in their papers in order to be eligible for some benefits (e.g. social security). They could work somewhere else and give all the money to the manager, or could split the money between them-- depending upon circumstances.

 

 

Artist: V. Kunnap
Poet: V. Alekseyev
"The Fighting Pencil" group, 1972
THE DAY OF OPEN DOORS
The manager of this organization
Takes cover from everyone on every occasion...
But on his birthday, as an exception,
Every coworker is guaranteed a reception.

      The "day of open doors" meant a day, when usually restricted offices were open to the public or clients, or employees in addition to the normal reception hours. It was designed to enhance the feedback between managers and employees, between organizations and clients, and make possible for people who were busy during routine reception hours to communicate their grief and ideas with relevant persons. In this poster the expression is used in sarcastic way, as if in quotation marks.
      The head of the organization, otherwise inaccessible, receives everyone on his birthday in order to receive presents. As in every other society, giving presents could range from normal appreciation (when the manager was organizing a party at home with all his immediate employees and their families) through non-ethical to explicit bribery.


Artist: B. Semyonov
Poem: S. Smirnovsky
"The Fighting Pencil", 1974
INVISIBLE HATS
[ In the store of hats there is a sign "NO HATS" ]

  The instance when hats are always sold out
  Can last forever in this store.
  Until the director of the store is fired
  The invisible hats they will not be restore.