I witnessed Communism first hand in the 1970s on a school trip and the images I saw I will never forget.
One one hand, you had children willing to give you a bar of chocolate -- which must have meant a lot to them --- for a $0.20c mass produced tin badge.
On the other hand, we were taken to see an opera at the Kirov theatre. I never understood how a country which could flaunt such splendour could let its people starve. Even in the 1970s, the Kirov was one of the top opera companies, equal to New York Metropolitan, or La Scala in Milan.
For some reason, I have been drawn towards Russian arts. I love Russian opera, the deep tone of their singers is wonderful to hear.
I had for a long time wanted to read Checkhov & Pushkin. I read Solzhenitsyn many years ago. I toyed with reading Tolstoy, but got put off by the vast likeness in the names.
I like Russian music, one of favourite composers is Sergei Prokofiev, who had the misfortune to die days before Stalin. While the country mourned their leader's death, their greatest composer of modern times passed away silently.
I think one of the reasons could be that I prefer the deeper meaningful works of German composers like Brahms & Wagner to the lighter works of Bach, Beethoven & Mozart.
One aspect which appeals to me is the way the authors I mentioned move the story as they write, they don't fill the pages with nonsense.