Soviet Union Why the Bear's Cupboards Are Bare

Are Bare Despite Gorbachev's promises, consumers seethe over shortages and empty shelves

Nearly four years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev pledged that the payoff for perestroika (economic restructuring) would be an increase in the quality and availability of consumer goods. So far, to the profound distress of Gorbachev's supporters and the growing impatience of Soviet citizenry, precisely the opposite has taken place. The arrival of the new year, traditionally a time of gift giving and feasting in the Soviet Union, served only to highlight the burgeoning list of products that are hard to find, rationed or simply unavailable. Even Gorbachev sounded dispirited over what has turned into the most severe consumer crisis in recent memory....

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