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74

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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74 RUSSIA AND PEACE
It is important to note the prominent part that
the Co -operative Societies play in this development.
Nationalised in 1919, and transformed into a mere
State instrument of distribution, they recovered in
1 92 1 the character of private economic organisa
tions. They continued, however, to be in close
connection with the Soviet Government, which has
its own representatives on the Co-operative boards
of management. On the other hand, Centrosojus
(the Central Union of Consumers’ Societies) has to
gather together for the States account all the agri
cultural produce and raw materials the State
requires. Goods from the State stores are given
them in exchange. The exchange of goods by the
official institutions, especially the industrial trusts,
must go through Centrosojus, and they must not
apply to other organisations except in cases where
Centrosojus does not want the business.
I had a very interesting conversation with
M. Khintchuk, the president of Centrosojus.
Our organisation [he said] consists of a union of 98 Govern
ment Co-operatives, embracing 700 District Co-operatives.
These latter include 24,000 local societies, which control
40,000 stores.
Centrosojus lives on its own capital, and does not receive
any advance from the State ; whereas the Co-operatives in
1 91 4 had sales to a value of 10 million gold roubles, the sales
in 1922 rose to 66 million gold roubles in the case of Centrosojus
and the organisations immediately dependent on it, and to
300 million in the case of all the branches.
The entire turnover of imports and exports by the Co
operatives from March 1922 to January 1923 represented a
total of £2,000,000, of which three-quarters were exports,
and one-quarter imports.
The Co-operatives have their own bank, the Svekobank,
which is closely related to the State Bank. Khintchuk’s

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