Russia Bans ‘Communist Monopoly’ for Its Anti-Soviet Views

Authorities won’t let people buy a game about shopping under an authoritarian regime.

Image via

“Upon opening the box, you have entered 1980s Poland.” The instructions for the Polish board game Kolejka (“Queue,” or “Line Up”) explicitly ask players to imagine what it was like to be lost within the logistical maze of a communist regime. This past weekend, Russia banned Kolejka for its perceived anti-Soviet tendencies—though the game has been out for four years, and Russia hasn’t been Soviet in any official capacity for more than 20.

Newsweek’s recent report about the ban likened the game to “Communist Monopoly”—a fitting term, given that both Kolejka and Monopoly were originally intended to skewer the communist and capitalist systems, respectively. The rules are devastatingly simple: Players of Kolejka are given a family of five “pawns” and a shopping list. The first player to acquire everything on their list wins. Seems easy enough, but because of the game’s setting, the stores are mostly empty, and players must wait in line for them to receive deliveries—which are, of course, erratic and unpredictable occasions.

Kolejka was designed by Karol Madaj and launched in 2011 by Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, a research institute also responsible for investigating communist and Nazi crimes. In Poland, people loved the game, awarding it the country’s 2012 Game of the Year Award—around the time when, as France 24 reports, all 20,000 copies of its initial run had sold out. (In an amusing twist, Kolejka was so popular that people lined up for hours to buy it, according to the Wall Street Journal.) The game has become a staple in Poland’s history classes, and an international version of Kolejka was released in 2012. The INR offers a free PDF of the game on its website.

Screenshot via PDF of the original (Polish) version of Kolejka

Kolejka hit Russian stores last November; more recently, consumer watchdog group Rospotrebnadzor accused the game of being overly critical of Russian history, and in response, Russian authorities required that Kolejka’s historical references be removed or it would be banned. As the request is antithetical to the point of the game—which is to educate players about life under Soviet rule, including Russia as a major player—the INR has stated that it has no plans to change it.

The game’s instructions include historical photographs and frank writing about Polish history under communism, as well as extensive information about dissent groups, rebellion, and struggle—with the accuracy of all stated facts overseen by Polish historians. The product cards contain photos of objects from the communist era, such as Popularna tea, Przemysławka eau de cologne, and Relaks shoes.

But Kolejka is not a dry history game; it uses humor to convey the ludicrousness of the era’s logistics. Cards featuring personas like “Mother Carrying Small Child” or “Colleague in the Government” allow players to jump ahead in their queues; others, highlighting typical interruptions such as “Delivery Error” or “Closed for Stocktaking,” can interfere with errands. Players are also able to trade goods on the black market.

Simple role-playing helps players foster empathy for “those who were unable to escape the absurdity of communism,” as Kolejka’s instructions put it. Perhaps the game’s slapstick race to the front of the lines rings a little too true to modern-day Russia, which the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity describes as “a democracy in name” only.

Screenshot via PDF of the original (Polish) version of Kolejka

via Real Time with Bill Maher / YouTube and The Late Late Show with James Corden / YouTube

A controversial editorial on America's obesity epidemic and healthcare by comedian Bill Maher on his HBO show "Real Time" inspired a thoughtful, and funny, response by James Cordon. It also made for a great debate about healthcare that Americans are avoiding.

At the end of the September 6th episode of "Real Time, " Maher turned to the camera for his usual editorial and discussed how obesity is a huge part of the healthcare debate that no one is having.

"At Next Thursday's debate, one of the candidates has to say, 'The problem with our healthcare system is Americans eat shit and too much of it.' All the candidates will mention their health plans but no one will bring up the key factor: the citizens don't lift a finger to help," Maher said sternly.

Keep Reading Show less

There is no shortage of proposals from the, um, what's the word for it… huge, group of Democratic presidential candidates this year. But one may stand out from the pack as being not just bold but also necessary; during a CNN town hall about climate change Andrew Yang proposed a "green amendment" to the constitution.

Keep Reading Show less
Me Too Kit

The creator of the Me Too kit — an at home rape kit that has yet to hit the market — has come under fire as sexual assault advocates argue the kit is dangerous and misleading for women.

The kit is marketed as "the first ever at home kit for commercial use," according to the company's website. "Your experience. Your kit. Your story. Your life. Your choice. Every survivor has a story, every survivor has a voice." Customers will soon be able order one of the DIY kits in order to collect evidence "within the confines of the survivor's chosen place of safety" after an assault.

"With MeToo Kit, we are able to collect DNA samples and other tissues, which upon testing can provide the necessary time-sensitive evidence required in a court of law to identify a sexual predator's involvement with sexual assault," according to the website.

Keep Reading Show less

Villagers rejoice as they receive the first vaccines ever delivered via drone in the Congo

The area's topography makes transporting medicines a treacherous task.

Photo by Henry Sempangi Senyule

When we discuss barriers to healthcare in the developed world, affordability is commonly the biggest concern. But for some in the developing world, physical distance and topography can be the difference between life and death.

Widjifake, a hard-to-reach village in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with a population of 6,500, struggles with having consistent access to healthcare supplies due to the Congo River and its winding tributaries.

It can take up to three hours for vehicles carrying supplies to reach the village.

Keep Reading Show less
via Keith Boykin / Twitter

Fox News and President Trump seem like they may be headed for a breakup. "Fox is a lot different than it used to be," Trump told reporters in August after one of the network's polls found him trailing for Democrats in the 2020 election.

"There's something going on at Fox, I'll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it," he continued.

Some Fox anchors have hit back at the president over his criticisms. "Well, first of all, Mr. President, we don't work for you," Neil Cavuto said on the air. "I don't work for you. My job is to cover you, not fawn over you or rip you, just report on you."

Keep Reading Show less