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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Taking a breather: Hospital nurse Ludmilla Subocheva smokes on her break in the dining room. Photo: Peter Turnley

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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Hard times: Eighteen-year-old prostitute Katya scours the street for work as a police car drives past in Moscow in 1991 shortly before the collapse of the USSR Peter Turnley/CORBIS

19th century Russian kerchief seller. Click for more 19th century Russian portraits of ordinary people

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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Bleak: Russians must wait in food lines to get whatever goods are available in November 1991, just a month before the collapse of the USSR

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Зимний Дворец Петра I (The Winter Palace)

The 1903 Ball in the Winter Palace — the famous luxurious ball during the reign of the emperor Nicholas II of Russia in the Winter Palace, St.-Petersburg (February 11 and 13). All the visitors were in fancy dresses on a fashion of 17th century (times of Alexis of Russia, 2nd tsar from Romanov dynasty).

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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Glum: Two dirty children look out the window in a coal-mining and steel-manufacturing community in Siberia enduring widespread economic hardships

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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Signs of desperation: People stand in line with cans for food supplies in Tula, Russia, in November 1991

Mikhail Gorbachev was general secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party from 1985-1991. He was also the first democratically elected President in 1990. He played a key role in dismantling the Communist grip on power in both the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. His aspirations for democracy and reform opened up the way for the end of the Cold War and the bringing down of the Berlin Wall.

Russian man who was coughing up blood and complaining of chest pains was found to have this 5 centimeter spruce tree growing inside his lung। Since the tree was too large to have been accidentally inhaled, doctors believe the man must have inhaled a bud which grew inside the lung.

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From a sweetheart's tears at Paddington to gravestone-jumping street urchins of Glasgow's slums: Striking images of celebrated WWII photographer Bert Hardy

A woman bids farewell at Paddington Station in 1942 as a train pulls away

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Poverty, prostitutes and the long, slow death of the Soviet Union: Haunting pictures show desperate struggle to survive in last days of USSR

Hindered by centralised market forces: A long queue forms in Novokuznetsk for bacon and other meat from the butcher at a state-run market