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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Privatization: Mixed Reviews For Good Idea

Privatization is the catchword these days. It is seen by some as the cure for all evils - it will make losing enterprises into corporate giants, rootless residents into proud home-owners, a command-administrative economy into a capitalist paradise.


But shifting an economy of the size and complexity of Russia's onto new rails is no easy task. Some people are bound to be left out. Take this letter to Izvestia, from I. Kovalev, a doctor in Magnitogorsk, the town in the Urals that was a showcase of Stalin's industrialization program:


"In my opinion, privatization is nothing more than robbing the 'proletariat of mental labor' - that is, all those who were not directly tied to production, trade, the land, etc.


"For example, the workers of the Magnitogorsk metallurgical plant have privatized the plant. The man who told me about this had received 42 shares: 10 for free, 10 at a reduced price, 10 for his voucher, and the rest for cash. Pensioners also received shares.


"We were told that "Magnitka' was built by the whole country, which supported and developed it. Now only the 'workers and peasant's get shares. What about the doctors who treated the workers at the plant, or the teachers, etc. - do they just get a thank-you note?


"Undistributed shares will be sold, but how can the impoverished intelligentsia compete with the workers? We get 7, 000-9, 000 rubles per month, while they get 25, 000 and higher".


We hear a lot about the low rate of apartment privatization in Moscow - only 15 percent so far. This leads to much headshaking over the Russian's lack of a proprietary instinct and their unwillingness to take responsibility. But perhaps what is holding up privatization is another fact of Russian life - excessive bureaucratization. As F. Lapteva, of Moscow, writes to Kuranty:


"There is a line to privatize apartments. You have to wait three to four months to get your documents. and in our neighborhood, things are even worse. Before you can get into the main line you have to wait in another line just to hand in your request to privatize. There is even a line to get into this line. At this rate, it will take the REST of my life to become an apartment owner".


Some Muscovites are against the whole idea of privatization, as V. Katerli makes clear to Sovietskaya Rossiya:


"As a result of the new laws, it is now possible to buy several apartments, or even a whole house. Even worse, you can buy and sell rooms in communal apartments without consulting your neighbors. Privatization is becoming a means of shifting the national wealth to the 'have's in society, increasing the already difficult housing situation to monstrous proportions".