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Why Soviet Soldiers Didn't Listen to Kino Band During the Wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya?

Ah, Soviet rock music – a blend of rebellion, passion, and poetic lyricism that echoed through the iron curtain. Among the legendary bands that emerged from this era, "Kino" stood out as a voice of change, a musical force that captivated hearts and minds. However, despite its widespread acclaim in modern-day Western internet circles, there's a fascinating twist to the story when it comes to the soldiers of the Afghan and Chechen Wars.

kino band
"Kino" band at its prime

Understanding the Realities of the Soviet and Russian Military Culture

In the midst of wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya, where chaos and danger lurked in every corner, music could have been a solace—a respite from the harsh reality of combat. Yet, surprisingly, the iconic "Kino" rock band  failed to resonate with Soviet and Russian soldiers during these tumultuous periods. But why did these soldiers, who faced the brutality of war daily, not find solace in the music of "Kino"?

Music has an incredible ability to uplift, console, and inspire. In times of war, soldiers often turn to music as a source of comfort, courage, and motivation. However, the choice of music is deeply personal and can be influenced by various factors. But for the Soviet and Russian soldiers there was one main factor - availability.

kino band
Typical Soviet military music

Any professional Army is, in most cases, a very closed community. People serving in the forces are usually very limited to the social circuit of their fellow colleagues. The factors for this are reasonable - being in the military takes up all the time of an individual, leaving almost no room to outside connections. The physical distance from the Army bases was also a major factor, especially in the realities of the USSR.

Last but not least, it is important to remember about the Soviet censorship. Until the very last days of its existence, the party had a grip control on what individuals were to eat, wear, watch and listen to. Multiply this by the Army discipline and all the factors mentioned above.

The actual reason for KINO not being popular during Afghan and Chechen War

Now, even thought everything mentioned in the first part of this article is generally true, this was not how the Soviet Society worked. Yes, the restrictions on media were implemented and charges would be pressed for listening to wrong music or watching wrong movies. But people did it all nevertheless. And so did soldiers.

So, the actual reason for "Kino" music not being widespread in the Soviet Forces during these two conflicts was simply wrong timing. The rock-band had a very short active life-span, when they actually produced music to the masses. While they started in 1981, the band did not get widespread popularity until 1988, with their famous hit singles, such as Группа Крови and Хочу Перемен.

These were more than hit singles. The song Хочу Перемен ("I want changes!") heard and seen by the Soviet youth at the end of movie Assa, starring Victor Tsoi, was a cultural shock. Never before a Soviet person has heard anything like that.

So, you can already see the problem - the band only gainer wide appreciation in 1988. It was so wide, that it could not avoid Army - Hell, I bet sailors on the submarines listened to them! My dad was fortunate enough to go on a concert during his military service and he claims that it was just grand.

But becoming so popular so late into the Afghan War meant that almost no people who served there got a chance to hear any of Kino music before the deployment - last batch of soldiers to be sent to Afghanistan was conscripted in spring of 1988. So, the music of the most popular Soviet rock-band could only be imported to Afghanistan by officers or warrant officers. But they were not socially connected to soldiers in the way they would share music with each other. And, usually representing an older generation, not many were into this type of music in the first place. So, most veterans of the Afghan war only experienced Kino after returning to the Soviet Union.

kino band

And regarding the First Chechen War it was the exact opposite. Victor Tsoi, the leader of the band, has died in a tragic road accident in 1990. Since then, the popularity of the group been fading. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the widespread of new local and western music gave listener a huge choice. The War in Chechnya has started in late 1994, and the main participants, from the RusFed side were, just as always, 18 years old boys. Even if they, being only 11 at the time, didn't miss the Kino-craze of 1988, most have moved on since then. So, if the Afghan veterans were too early for the band, the Chechen ones were too late.

kino band

So why is it popular now?

"Kino," led by the talented Victor Tsoi, was a cultural phenomenon for the Soviet people and the USSR overall. They have defined a very short, thought crucial part of the world's history, potentially playing a big role in the collapse of the Soviet regime as such. And since this even was close to both Afghan and Chechnya, it is now closely associated with these conflicts and often used in video making.

kino band

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