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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The new and improved former U. S. S. R

In Yekaterinburg on Wednesday, officers of the Rizen-Shnauzer dog club sent a letter to the city Procurator's Office protesting commercial dog fighting.


This tidbit came oozing out of my fax machine Wednesday night, courtesy of the Postfactum news service, usually the last place to look for interesting news.


It's been a slow news week, hence my more-diligent than usual perusing of Postfactum reports. But in the pages-after-page of dog fight stories, a message arrives for businessmen about what a crazy, complex, fascinating country this is becoming.


It's certainly not news that the simple days of dealing with a single Moscow ministry are already five years passed. But then, dealing with republic-level and regional bodies was not all that different than dealing with the center. Now a new era is dawning.


The day is not far off when an investor will have to take their case directly to the people -- as it would be in the West where projects must undergo open hearings and votes by city officials whose re-election depends on making decisions that are in the best interest of their constituency. It promises to be endlessly more interesting, but more complicated too. It's no wonder some businessmen long for the "good ole days" of stagnation when the Soviet Union was a reliable, multibillion dollar per year buyer.


If you're skeptical, then consider this: In a single day, Tuesday March 17, 1992, the following grassroots events occurred across the former Soviet Union according to reports from Postfactum, Tass and Interfax.


o In Vladivostok armed vigilantes are patrolling every village of one city district. The groups have been organized by a district official, responding to pressure to act in the wake of recent thefts of some bulls in Komissarova and horses in Lugovoye. The , horse thieves killed a farm watchman. The vigilante's shotguns will be filled with salt, the city official promised.


o In Khabarovsk, the chairman of the council of captains of the Okhotskoye Sea fishery zone demanded "an end to foreign vessel's piracy in Okhotskoye Sea". The chairman complained in an interview that this was not the first time his group had complained to the authorities about the "plunder and devastation of biological resources" (read fish).


o In Kaliningrad some 20 people blocked traffic near a food store because there was no sugar. City and district officials scurried to the site and tried to reason with the people for an hour. By that time sugar had arrived, and the shoppers-turned-protesters took their quota and left. Big day.


o Strikes continued of 400 dock workers in the merchant sea port of Magadan; 35 lawyers in the city of Piatigorsk; 9, 000 secondary school teachers in the town of Kamen-on-Ob; 36 teachers in Ulan-Ude and Kamensk; 1, 500 teachers in Mezhdurechensk and Kemerova; 11, 000 workers at 28 enterprises in the Republic of Komi; and 1, 000 public health workers in the town of Kirishi.


o The meeting of the U. S. S. R. Peo-ple's Deputies in Moscow drew mostly small demonstrations of support in cities across the former Soviet Union.


o In Korkina, some 50 bus drivers went on strike demanding higher wages, lower retirement age and a reduction in administrative staff.


o In Krasnoturyinsk about 30 bus drivers went on strike when their February paychecks were late.


o In Barnaul, about 20 angry parents picketed City Council demanding that something be done to halt a teacher's strike.


o The Trans-Baikal railway came to a halt at Petrovsk station after technical supervisors walked off their jobs to protest not receiving their February pay.


The list go on and on for some 25 pages. Businessmen take note: There's nothing like a slow news day for seeing familiar things in a new way.