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1 Government Number Fits All in Moscow Phone Book

December 21, 1987|Associated Press

MOSCOW — Under the Kremlin's new policy of glasnost (openness), a Muscovite should be able to pick up the phone and call a government agency, but he now has no easy way of getting the number, a newspaper said Sunday.

Moscow Pravda complained that the official policy of more openness in selected areas does not extend to the Moscow phone directory, a 720-page hard-cover tome issued last summer that sells for four rubles (about $6).

Under the entry for "Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.," the top government agency, the directory lists one number and gives no address, the paper said.

All guidebooks say the Soviet government and the Supreme Soviet, the nation's Parliament, have their headquarters in the Kremlin, but the phone book and other directories give no address, the paper said.

Consequently, Soviet citizens have a hard time finding out where to address their complaints or requests for government action, the paper said.

Moscow Pravda, the newspaper of Moscow's Communist Party Committee, compared the omissions in the phone book with the "All Moscow" guide issued in 1936 under dictator Josef Stalin.

That book listed government and city agencies, including the People's Committee for Defense, the forerunner of the Defense Ministry, the paper said.

In contrast, the authors of the latest phone directory "think they are vigilantly keeping military secrets and don't give the address of the ministry," Moscow Pravda noted.

"In the final result, the lack of information hinders people from living, especially in such a big city as Moscow," the paper said. "And in general, how can such a practice be reconciled with the process of democratization?"

The phone book itself is not easy to get.

According to the imprimatur on the book, 200,000 copies have been issued. Moscow has more than 9 million people.

The paper said the directory is published every four years or so.

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