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Unemployed Soviets Say West Could Help With Retraining With AM-Summit Rdp, Bjt

July 13, 1991

MOSCOW (AP) _ Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s perestroika cost Nina Popova her job. And now the unemployed mother of three doesn’t think the Soviet leader’s drive for Western aid will solve her country’s economic trouble.

″We can live without Western aid. Our problem is that we have forgotten how to work. If Communists hadn’t ruled this country, we’d be better off,″ Mrs. Popova said while waiting to register for unemployment benefits.

Gorbachev is scheduled to meet Wednesday in London with leaders of the seven most industrialized nations to unveil his latest reform plans.

He says he is not counting on large-scale credits from the West, but hopes for investment for specific projects.

The jobless at an unemployment center in Moscow approved of his approach.

″What we need are small projects, small factories that can be opened quickly,″ said Alla Chukanova, 40, an unemployed mother of two. ″We don’t need credits for big projects that may never get off the ground.″

Shoppers on Moscow’s Smolensky Boulevard also thought Gorbachev’s meeting with the Group of Seven could be instrumental.

″We are opening our markets. Our enterprises have freedom and we are importing goods. But we need a little help as we move toward the market,″ said Valentin Antonoshov, a metal worker.

″If the West sees there can be political stability in our country, then Western businessmen will want to come,″ said Vladimir Nikolayevich, a construction engineer.

Vyacheslav Sudokov, a textile plant mechanic who had just spent most of his monthly wage on groceries, was more cautious.

″The West should give money but only for concrete ventures. Otherwise, it will just end up in the pockets of the bureaucrats,″ he said.

A shift to a market economy may improve Soviet lives in the long run. But many said they lost jobs after subsidies were cut to state-run enterprises as part of the transition, threatening them with bankruptcy.

With the layoffs beginning, a nation long accustomed to guaranteed jobs is suddenly facing the prospect of mass unemployment.

Mrs. Chukanova worked for 20 years in a construction company, preparing models of buildings. She now worries about finding new employment afte the company shut down her department in mid-May.

More than 5,000 people visited the 33 job centers in Moscow in their first week. Most of those who lost their jobs are nearing retirement age.

″This is all linked to perestroika,″ said Mrs. Popova, 50, a former statistician in the state bureau of measurements, commenting on Gorbachev’s program of broad restructuring. Her department was eliminated July 1.

She said Western know-how is more important than money.

″We need to be trained. We need to have smart people, and not Communists, at the head of the factory. That’s where the West could help,″ she said.

After Josef Stalin declared in 1931 that unemployment had been eradicated, officials denied its existence and kept no statistics on joblessness.

On July 1, the Russian Federation, the largest of the 15 Soviet republics, opened offices to register the unemployed and help them find jobs.

Igor Zaslavsky, head of the Moscow city job program, is keenly interested in Western approaches to unemployment and retraining programs.

″I can only hope for the good will of Western enterprises. We want to establish joint ventures for training our managers,″ he said.

Zaslavsky said his biggest problem is retraining.

″We need to have a normal labor market. It is the foundation of a market economy,″ he said.

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