Soviet Scene: Moscow Beginners Where Slava Starts Over Again

At a meeting of the country's first A.A. group, alcoholics learn a sort of personal perestroika, one day at a time

"My name is Slava, and I am an alcoholic."

The young man speaks rapidly, but every syllable reverberates. More than 30 other men and women seated in a large, drab room at a Moscow community center listen quietly. Over the next hour and a half, most of them, giving only their first names, will stand under the bare fluorescent lighting and make the same confession. It is a painful admission to make anywhere, but especially in the Soviet Union, where drinking is legendary and individual accountability has decayed. This is the daily meeting of Moscow Beginners, the first antidrinking group for...

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