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Soviets Order Crackdown on Cooperatives

Associated Press

Soviet officials on Thursday said they are cracking down on the highly successful cooperative movement, banning the small private ventures from such lucrative operations as video salons and some medical care.

A panel of eight officials of deputy ministerial rank told a news conference that co-ops had to be barred from businesses ranging from film making to jewelry manufacturing because they are competing with their ministries for critically short supplies and making products of “poor quality.”

Video salons, which offer armchairs and snacks while screening rarely shown movies on big-screen video, are being banned because they violate copyright laws, the officials said. Medical cooperatives, which also have been booming, are being sharply restricted because many were using state-owned equipment, they added.

The crackdown seemed strikingly at odds with President Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s attempts to revive the stagnant economy by expanding cooperatives and reducing the power of the Moscow ministries.

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Cooperatives have mushroomed since they were legalized two years ago, and now more than 700,000 Soviets work for them, sharing in the profits and taking home salaries several times higher than average.


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