Most squads, ours for sure - kept our own hidden cache of 'emergency rations'
Mostly consisting of what we stole from the goods warehouse while unloading supplies, stacking crates, etc...
Man, I wonder how your company starshina didn't know about solders keeping food in the barracks)
That shit we stole (some we received for free from this or that source though) we kept hidden in different buildings for example the 'uchebny korpus' (education building), we had our own classroom there to make the best of essentially.
But having said that we did have food in the barracks too; people used to receive packages from home with all kinds of things like salo, chocolate, kolbasa, condensed milk, etc... the starshina (company sergeant major for non-Russian folk) would inspect it all and would always be easily bribed with a bag of chocolates to keep the inspection brief and far from exhaustive, and w/o any needless questions about who is going to store what where.
This even got to the point where one of guys was smuggling in hashish this way through these packages for a whole 6 months; I guess the starshina would have put a stop to this had he suspected that this was the sort of thing that was being transported in under his nose. Shame he didn't
Real problem with keeping food in the barracks was the officers coming to inspect, which they did every morning; all your drawers and private possessions; so you had to make sure you hid it well. In the first half of my service they paid it little mind and essentially turned a blind eye, but eventually new management turned up and regulations started to be followed more and more stringently; starshina was pressed into action too - basically it ended up with everything suspect being insta-confiscated on discovery and eventually our huge secret stash of tushenka, conserved fish, juice and so on being discovered in the classroom and ransacked/confiscated too.
Things have changed since then, I heard solders have "tea rooms" now
You always had those AFAIK, komnaty psyxologicheskoj razgruzki (psychological discharge rooms), I would have thought that they are mandatory for military units by regulation. They are used when a serviceman has relatives coming to visit; so that they all have a nice room to relax in, with sofas, nice paintings on the wall, a kettle, table, etc...
But when there was a decent officer on duty and our squad wanted to gather together to celebrate something or whatever, we could get about an hour in or so in them as well.
Failing that, you could always peel your potatoes quick when it's your squad's turn on it, and then you'll have some time to relax in the kitchen/dinning hall, drink tea or whatever.
Personally, I used to drink my tea in the power station
Point is, you could always find a way to do something, if you know how and where to look
And no elders any more, whole unit is from the same conscription wave.
Would only be possible if people served no more than half a year. As people serve 1 year, and there are 2 conscription periods throughout the year - there will always be a generation that has served 6 months more than the other.
Not as harsh as it was before, with the 2 year service and 4-5 different 'waves'/'informal' ranks of seniority; but yeah if you screw around and create problems you'll get your ass kicked one way or the other. Maybe by now though they've gotten rid of dedovshina completely, it did seem to gradually be on the way out back when I served.