Где же наш товарищ?

During Communism, this word was used roughly equivalently to the word “comrade” in English. But I get the sense that, prior to this usage, it was a much more widely used word than “comrade” was in English, and it has retained a broader range of uses.

Does this word have any connotation of evoking the old Communist days the way “comrade” does in English, or can you just use this word normally without really referencing that? In English, nowadays you pretty much cannot use the word “comrade” without it being a reference to that, so it is usually relegated to a certain type of humor and people rarely use it in any other meaning.

I don’t have a sense of whether or not I can safely use this word in different settings, without evoking that sort of association or humor.

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