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Cashier’s Lament at Moscow Grocery: ‘They Are Sweeping Up Everything’ With AM-Soviet-Economy,

May 26, 1990

Cashier’s Lament at Moscow Grocery: ‘They Are Sweeping Up Everything’ With AM-Soviet-Economy, Bjt

MOSCOW (AP) _ Cashier Sofia Martikina waved her arms toward the dozens of people jamming a nearby counter to buy sausage and lard.

″It’s just outrageous 3/8″ she said. ″They are sweeping up everything. There is no salt or macaroni left.″

At a bakery down the street, Nargiza Nargieva clutched a loaf of brown bread as she spoke of the impending government plan to triple the prices of bakery goods on July 1 and the crush of shoppers back home in Tbilisi, the capital of Soviet Georgia.

″It’s been that way for about a week,″ she said of the run on the stores in the Caucasus republic. ″In Georgia, we are very much afraid of bread price increases. ... There is nothing left, neither bread nor cheese.″

Mrs. Nargieva, who on Saturday bought a dress imported from Hungary before heading back to Tbilisi on Monday, seemed genuinely surprised at new, temporary restrictions that would prevent out-of-towners from buying goods in Moscow stores.

″We just can’t believe that anything like that - selling things on passports - can happen in the Soviet Union,″ she said. ″I can’t believe that. It’s very bad.″

In reality, some other regions in the country adopted residents-only rules months ago. Moscow’s planned restrictions are being put into effect to curb panic-buying that city officials say has been occurring in the capital since an economic reform plan was announced Thursday.

Another woman in the bakery who refused to give her name was pleased with the rule in which residents of Moscow would have to show their ″propiska″ - a stamp in their internal passports - to shop at the city’s stores.

″I’m a Muscovite and I think it’s good,″ she said. ″There will be fewer crowds in the shops and we will be able to buy anything without a fuss.″

But Mrs. Martikina, the cashier, wasn’t so sure.

″I don’t know how I will feel when a woman with a young child comes up to me to buy milk and I have to refuse on the grounds she has no propiska,″ Mrs. Martikina said. ″Does the fact that she’s not a Muscovite mean that she has to starve, she and her child? It’s just awful.″

Shoppers interviewed at random on a drizzly Saturday evening said they had not done any hoarding of goods themselves and had not seen their neighbors buying extra.

Alexandra Sergeyeva, standing in a slow-moving line along with more than 60 other people to buy about 2 pounds of the grayish, wrinkled sausages on sale, said she has not been stocking up on food.

″I don’t have any place to store it,″ she said, adding that if she did have extra shelf space, she would be buying more goods.

″Well, anyway, I don’t have that much money, but I could afford another kilo,″ she said. The store was limiting shoppers to two kilograms, almost 4 1/2 pounds.

″Yes, I heard that prices will go up,″ Mrs. Sergeyeva said. ″You know, I don’t think the country’s economy is going to be saved. For ordinary people it’s going to be worse. It’s not that they will suffer that much, but they will be much poorer.″

Further up the line, Svetlana Kireichnenkova, who has a husband and two children, said the planned price increases are ″going to adversely affect my family.″

Mrs. Kireichnenkova described herself as an out-of-towner and had heard about the new rules for Moscow shoppers, but did not want to speculate about her future.

″I don’t really feel up to making forecasts,″ she said. ″We shall live and see.″

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