‘Red October’ Factory Sees Sweet Future After Coup
MOSCOW (AP) _ Things looked pretty sticky at the Red October chocolate factory when Communist Party hard-liners temporarily took over the Soviet government. But now, the factory’s director sees a sweet future.
Anatoly Daursky, who oversees the venerable red-brick factory, has used the past few years of perestroika to shed layers of state control.
With profits earned from export sales, the factory has been able to build its own distribution system, supply its own paper and printing plant and bring in Western machinery.
Modernization and economic reform seemed at risk when the hard-liners sent tanks rumbling into Moscow on Aug. 19. But the rapid dissolution of Communism precipitated by the coup’s failure has put things back on track, workers and managers at the plant said.
″We’re going to keep on working like we used to,″ party member Lyuda Alekseyeva yelled above the hum of machinery. ″We always have worked for ourselves, for our salaries. We never worked for the party.″
When Daursky learned of the coup, he raced to the state-owned Red October Order of Lenin factory near the Kremlin to find tanks outside and his employees in shock.
″Half a year ago I thought it would never be possible to stage a coup in this country,″ he said during an interview in his office. On one wall is a large portrait of Soviet founder Vladimir Ilyich Lenin.
″But when my wife said she heard on the radio that Gorbachev had been forced to resign for health reasons, I didn’t believe it,″ Daursky said. ″I jumped in the car and drove to the factory.″
When Daursky arrived, he found chaos and panic. Female employees with children were the most affected, he said. More than 80 percent of the 2,300 factory workers are women.
″They were very upset, very upset,″ he said. ″We could see tanks moving in columns across the river.″
A week later, the factory’s conveyor belts whirred as plastic and metal molds whizzed past a temperature-regulated vat of warm chocolate. Young girls slapped labels on boxes with buckets of glue. Old men lugged boxes of packed candies on tiny carts.
Daursky believes last week’s events may actually help accelerate profits.
″I think that now our foreign partners will believe more in what we are doing, and work faster towards cooperating with us,″ he said.
″We haven’t changed our plans. We are now in the last stages of renting the factory ourselves, and we are trying to become our own corporation.″
Located in a grand building on the banks of the Moscow River, the factory was built in 1867 by the German candy manufacturer Theodore Einem. In 1918, the Soviet government claimed the plant.
That’s the way it stayed for about 70 years, until gradual reforms began.
In one of the main sections of the factory, Natasha Alimova, 35, wiped her hands on her chocolate-smeared smock and adjusted a conveyor belt.
Never a Communist Party member, she has been working at the factory since age 15.
When Alimova heard there had been a coup, she was with her young son at their dacha. ″My hands were trembling,″ she said.
A week after the coup collapsed, the only thing she cares about is that it’s over. ″The most important thing is that everything remain calm and nobody gets shot,″ she said. ″That’s the only important thing.″
Two weeks ago, Alexander Kutseigin was head of the factory’s Communist Party committee. But Boris N. Yeltsin, president of the Russian republic, banned partisan politics at work, and Kutseigin now works as a mechanic.
Although he intends to remain a party member, Kutseigin has changed his mind about the party.
″It was a coup planned by people who have the highest governmental and party positions,″ he said. ″They didn’t want to think about the simple people. They thought only about themselves.″