A residency permit in the Russian Empire and, when internal passports were introduced in the 1930s, in the Soviet cities.

Propiska documented the right and obligation to live at a specific address. It was entered in militia registers. The address was stamped in the passport that served as a mandatory identification for anybody over sixteen years of age.

The few big-city dwellers who owned their houses were not required to have propiska; they maintained household registers approved by the police; they were allowed to add relatives to the registers provided the sanitary norm was not violated and then obtain an approval of the change at a city department. Villagers had no passports.

Residing in a city without propiska was prohibited and no employment was possible. Living at an address different from the one stamped in a passport was a crime.

The prevalent justifications for obtaining propiska in a desirable city were a mandatory post-university job assignment, an apartment swap or, more commonly, a marriage. The last brought about illegal schemes and many unhappy unions.

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