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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. NOTES ON RUSSIA by Congressman Jim Wright 12th District, Texas These notes were taken after five days in the Soviet Union. It is much too short a time to form profound conclusions or even an authoritative summation. What I have written is, rather, a series of impressions based upon observations and conversations in Leningrad, Moscow, and on the train which connects the two cities. Leningrad was to me the more interesting of the two, in many respects a remarkable city, once described by Dostoevski as “the most abstract and premeditated city in the world.” It is beautiful in a sort of bleak, detached sense. In spite of broad, clean avenues uncluttered by traffic jams, an heroic heritage from a succession of wars and Eastern Europe’s most ostentatious collection of ornate museums, Leningrad life might seem drab to the average American. But it is enormously attractive to the average Russian. Rooted deep in the bloody and opulent era of the czars, its proud architecture breathing from the past an aura of planned spaciousness, Leningrad today is buffeted by waves of tourists from Eastern Europe and its gold-gilted seams are beginning to split from the pressures of four million inhabitants. Zero-Growth Goal The city government wants no more permanent residents. Intent on preserving a local quality of life unique in the Soviet Union, officials here have adopted severe restrictions against accepting new citizens from the surrounding countryside. Now the elaborate regulations amount to a tough anti-immigration policy. If a Russian from some other town desires to take up residence here in the Soviets’ second largest metropolis, he first must obtain a local work permit and spend three years performing manual labor on housing or other civic construction projects. Only then can he qualify to make applicatiop for Leningrad citizenship. Since all housing is controlled by the government and apartment units are individually assigned by the central authority, this rule against unwanted newcomers can be effectively enforced. Some few outlanders get around it by importuning family or friends to take them in surreptitiously. But this can inflict real hardship, as the typical family of five will have two bedrooms at best, more likely one, and unless it is lucky enough to be in one of the new collective apartment buildings will share bath and kitchen facilities with two or three other families; There are no more than five hours of real daylight in the winter season. The sun is rarely visible. A constant cold drizzle chills the spirit, and at night a tidal wind from the Baltic churns, the Neva River and howls around the corners of the city’s stately buildings in a sad serenade like a continuous siren from a cruising ambulance. Style of Life Even so; life here is rich by Soviet standards. There is no evidence of real poverty. Officials boast that unemployment is non-existent. It depends, I suppose, on their definition. Everywhere I saw middle-aged women with long brooms sweeping the city streets. Our Intourist guide insists that they are paid as well as the average doctor. Asked why anyone would undergo the years of study to become a doctor if paid no more than a street sweeper, she replies: “The challenge of the work, of course.” And, she admits, there are certain “fringe benefits.” There is no shortage of doctors. There are 147 hospitals and neighborhood clinics scattered throughout the city. People on the streets seem well dressed. A man’s suit costs the equivalent of a month’s pay. To buy an automobile would swallow up the average breadwinner’s total salary for almost two years. Hence, there are few private cars. Leningrad’s administrative official \(perhaps the equivalent’ of 2% of Leningrad’s citizenry drives private vehicles into the downtown area and implies that officialdom likes it this way. It does have one advantage. There are no traffic snarls. There is, however, an excellent system of public transportation. The typical Leningrader may walk for six or seven minutes in the biting cold to catch the tram or bus ‘or he is deposited close to his place of work. The city’s manager’s face brightens into a smile of pride as he tells us that 1.4 million citizens ride the metro daily. The Subway In company with the Chief. Engineer of the subway system, a hearty and effusive man who speaks no English, I took a 40-minute ride on the underground metroliners at yesterday’s afternoon ‘rush hour, making three transfers and returning to our point of origin. The metro system here is one of the things a I . at. N.’