Letters to Gorbachev

Dosmakova, For Whom were the Cooperatives Created?.

We are an average family with average wages. But we have never had any money because our family is large. But in our house there was always joking and laughter. But now misfortune has arrived in a way I never imagined. My children grew up good and industrious. None of them drinks or smokes, All of them worked at different plants then suddenly one of my sons went to work at a co-operative. A dressmaking place. Soon he was earning R450, R500, then R700 and R800 a month. Very expensive things appeared in our house without which we had got along fine for years, The rest of my children still work at their plants where the salaries are R220 – and whatever they do they can’t get any more.

So, I asked my son why he received so much money and he answered, ‘Well, for instance, if a dress costs twenty rubles we will sell it for forty-five rubles. Our women put a motif on a simple dress and the buyers think it is outstanding.’

Now, my sons, who couldn’t imagine living without each other, look at each other like enemies. My ‘cooperator’ can insult his sisters and brothers any way he likes. I taught my children not to take from anybody else, never to insult or to humiliate anyone. To be honest!

I am a simple worker. During the war I worked on a collective farm, Then I worked twenty years at a plant. My health has been bad in the last few years and my pension is only eighty rubles. But my children never reproached me because I was only able to dress them in a poor way. Probably people will say that I am silly, old, that I should be glad that my son brings the money home, But I have no happiness from such income, because it is from robbery.

For many years the dressmaking shops were run by the State. For whom were such co-operatives created? Why did these dressmakers become robbers of simple working people who have nothing but their honest salary? And this income which they receive in such an easy way only makes them selfish and greedy, money-grabbing. I never thought my son would be so weak. The sun has gone out from our home.

Dosmakova, Sverdlovsk.

Source: Ron McKay, ed., Letters to Gorbachev: Life in Russia Through the Postbag of Argumenty i Fakty (London: Michael Joseph, 1991), p. 43.

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