WORLD : No Smoking, No Job for Soviet
Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev dismissed one of his top ministers today, blaming him for the acute shortage of cigarettes that has caused demonstrations in Moscow and other cities.
Vladilen Nikitin, a first deputy prime minister and head of the State Procurement Commission, was relieved of his duties one day after Gorbachev summoned him and four other officials to demand an explanation for the shortages.
Tass news agency said Gorbachev demanded an explanation of the tobacco shortage from the officials and found their responses “unconvincing and unsound.”
The tobacco shortage, which has lasted all summer, has forced Soviet smokers to spend hours waiting in lines at kiosks to buy cigarettes.