The article focuses on the linguistic analysis of letters and complaints dealing with the problems of economic abuses of the authorities, written in 1964–1982 and sent by the Ural citizens to the authorities and to the newspapers’ editorial offices. The author reconstructs the overall arguments posed by the citizens and traces their value field, as well as the aspects of economic judgments and ethical beliefs represented by the Ural population. The analysis of the complaints’ texts leads to a conclusion that, within the citizens’ system of economic perceptions, the concept of “legality” occupied a substantially lower position than the concept of “justice”, which was mostly understood to mean equal accessibility of goods. The breach of that balance of social (economic) equality, vitally important for the citizens, provoked acute emotional reactions and criticism of the transgressors, both from ethical positions and through the charge of ideological non-compliance. At the linguistic level, repudiation of inequality appears within the texts of the letters both in form of negative terms-labels and as the accentuated description of certain images (a wall, a fence) perceived negatively by the population. During the analyzed period, people noticed an increased social (material) differentiation taking place in the Soviet society and accompanied by the destruction of horizontal connections within the “authorities − masses” system. Within the mental world of some population groups, the idea of communism has become devalued; public confidence in the promises conveyed by the ideology declined – although society in general continued to remain loyal to the ideals of communism.
Key words: everyday life history, the USSR, people’s letters and complains, judgments, values of the population, abuses of authorities.