Soviet Union: Toothpaste And Tapes

Toothpaste And Tapes

Long a source of grim jokes and bitter complaints by the Soviet public, the chronic shortage of many consumer goods has only worsened under perestroika. Nonetheless, the Kremlin has been reluctant to dip into its hard-currency reserves (around $40 billion, according to Western estimates) to buy consumer goods from the West. But faced with rising discontent, Deputy Minister of Trade Suren Sarukhanov announced last week that the Soviet Union has signed contracts with companies from ten foreign countries to supply products with a retail value of some $2 billion in the hopes of at least temporarily quelling demand. Among the items:...

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