No, even Russian academics have settled on at least 20 million across the SU. Others assert as many as 60 million, but that many can't be supported. I actually visited the Soviet Union when it was still the Soviet Union, in 1990. I spent several weeks in Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky training with the KGB Naval Frontier Guards (their Coast Guard) We were the first westerners to see that city since the revolution. I think I have a pretty good feel for how people outside the center viewed communism. They hated it. They despised it. They feared it. And they were perfectly happy to tell me about it, even though they would never talk so freely to another Russian about it. The stores were empty. The restaurants had king crab, pollock and potatoes. That was it. The only foods available in the far east, because it was produced locally. It had always been that way, it was nothing new. The most precious item of trade was a simple battery. Any kind of battery. A car battery, a D cell battery, any kind of battery. They were simply unavailable at any price. If you were lucky enough to have a car, somebody would steal the battery and to get another might involve a long series of trades and negotiations that would eat up a months salary. Most people walked and if you didn't have batteries for your flashlight you walked in the dark And there were no batteries to be had, so everybody walked in the dark apparently because streetlight bulbs, like batteries, were unavailable. That's centralized planning, Soviet style. If X amount of cars were produced, then an equal number of batteries were produced with no thought that batteries wear out or get stolen. It was similar with other necessities - windshield wipers, tires, toothpaste, razor blades. Rubles were worthless for what they really needed (they called them "rupees") and they were reduced to a barter system. The thing is, they knew the rest of the world had it better and they wanted a piece of that. With Internet and TV and radio, the authorities couldn't keep a cap on it any more. They couldn't bullshit their people that the west was starving any longer. It was a interesting, a privilege, to be there just before it all fell apart. You could sense that it was about to crumble, and so could they. And it did.