The Union: What the Comrades Say

In the most extensive Soviet poll on perestroika ever conducted for a foreign publication, TIME discovers surprising candor -- and more than a little dissension

How's he doin'?

Not bad -- but . . . According to a TIME poll of more than 1,000 Moscow residents, Mikhail Gorbachev's approval rating stands at 79%. Buoyed by the success of his U.S. visit, Gorbachev enjoyed a popularity rating of 92% in December. By March, those who expressed doubts climbed from 5% to about 12%, reflecting the reality of shortages and dissatisfaction with the progress of perestroika.

Seventy-one percent agree that Gorbachev's reform program is encountering difficulties, and 20% think it has been braked, but only 1 out of 10 believes that perestroika is a deviation from Marxism-Leninism. Though...

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