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Soviet Union

Coventry Socialist Group

ISVESTIA SUB-EDITOR VISITS COVENTRY. Thus ran the first line of a personal column ad. in the 22nd January issue of the Coventry Evening Telegraph. MEET MR. MATVEYEF the ad. went on. Well, the Coventry Socialist Group thought that it would be a better idea if Mr. Matveyef met us. So a few of us went along to the meeting which, we learned later, was organised by the British-Soviet Friendship Society.

The Soviet sub-editor's speech was slow, halting and rather rambling—but this did nothing to diminish the applause which came at the end of it from the hundred or so Russophiles who were present. As soon as the applause had died down, one of our members was on his feet with some uncomfortable facts for Mr. Matveyef to digest about the Russian dictatorship and to remind him that, although the Communists claimed that the Soviet Union was different from Great Britain because it was a Socialist country, he had taken half an hour bef

The Middle East War: A Letter to a Kiev Cousin

Dear K,

I know that this letter won't reach you. Only if I were to express myself in subtle allusions might such a letter pass the censorship of the State Capitalist Russian Empire. But what I have to say must be said loud and clear. You may not hear me, but others will.

At last you hold an exit permit in your hand, your ticket to the promised land. In struggling for it, you were thrown out of your job by your bureaucratic bosses, who then sent you to labour camp for a year on a charge of parasitism. It goes without saying, as they say, that you were guilty of being without a job — innocent people are not arrested in the Soviet Union, which has no unemployment anyway — as is well known! But tomorrow you board the train for Prague — destination Jerusalem.

Between the Lines: Fine Cut; Life Can Be Wonderful

The "Dream"

The early hours of Saturday evening on "The Box" are usually devoted to game shows, sitcoms and old films. Fine Cut (Saturday 21 May, 7.45pm, BBC2) was therefore something of a surprise. It charted through a sometimes confusing mixture of present-day and flash-back film, the progress of an East End family from the time that Richard Harris left Dublin in the 1930s, through five generations to the present.

Such family historians are, of course, not new and though this one ran, as it does with so many, a nostalgia for the "good old days" when there was a sense of community, people felt (however misguidedly) that they could affect the course of events, and everyone had a job (with the usual gloss regarding the grind and abysmal pay).

What's the Russian for 'Blackleg'?

Conservatives who fell for Thatcher's conveniently distorted version of "Victorian values" may be gratified to learn that the Russian government recently commemorated one of that country's great exponents of hard work and dedicated patriotism.

In August 1935 a mining team in the Donbas, led by Alexei Stakhanov, cut 102 tons of coal in one six-hour shift. (Or so it was reported; some accounts doubt that it happened at all, or was any more than a propaganda stunt dreamed up by the Stalinist rulers of the time.) This tonnage was about 14 times the norm of the shift (in Great Britain, output per man shift was then about 1.15 tons) and it resulted from Stakhanov devising a more efficient division of labour for his team, separating the processes of cutting coal from that of propping the shaft and assigning each to different workers.

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