In 1970s and early 1980s, when I was a schoolboy, radio receivers were ubiquitous in the USSR. The short wave band provided an excellent opportunity to listen to foreign radiostations, from the news of Voice of America to music on Radio Luxembourg. And the wonderful music programmes made by Seva Novgorodtsev on BBC, of course :). It was not a crime in itself, but could become a reason for a serious discussion at school or at work. Or even an aggravating circumstance if you made a step further and distributed banned books and magazines.
However, it was not difficult to hide your peculiar interests. But some decades before, the things were not that simple.
When I was in a museum in Kozmodemyansk this summer, I noticed a stack of old shellack gramophone records. The sleeve of one of them attracted my attention. It said nothing about what was recorded on the plate, but informed the reader on his duty to register his radio receiver. The text says:
All radio receivers and tap-offs are subject to mandatory registration.
Radio receivers and tap-offs must be registered in cities in 3 days since purchase and in 10 days since purchase in rural districts.
Radio receivers and tap-offs are registered and the rental fee is payed in all post offices.
The rental fee for radio receivers and tap-offs is payed in advance every quarter.
Later I learned that this registration was introduced by the decree of the Soviet of People's Commissars on 27 March 1934. Besides the short information of the plate, there were also some details. So, the owner of more than one receiver had to register all of them. The punishment for owning an unregistered receiver was either a fine or a penal sanction. When the owner moved to another apartment, he had to notify the authorities. When moving to another town, he had to re-register the device. If the receiver became unserviceable or was transferred to another owner, one had to write an application asking to invalidate the registration.
However, it seems that the goal was not the totalitarian control, but just money. The owners of personal receivers payed 35 rubles per year. The public receivers, located in clubs and "krasny ugolok" ("the red corner", kind of a little club at work or at home used for propaganda), costed 54 rubles per year and those located in shops, cinemas, offices, and so on, costed 75 rubles per year. The collected money was later used for mainenance of radio stations
The mandatory registration was canceled on 1 January 1962.