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78

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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78 RUSSIA AND PEACE
twice, whereas the price of metal goods has been
trebled and that of cloth quadrupled. One arschin
of cotton material cost about 5*5 lb. of rye flour
before the war. On January 1, 1922, it was not
worth more than 3- 8 lb. of flour, for the famine had
caused a considerable advance in the prices of
food. After October, 1922, the relative figures
before the war were not only reached but greatly
exceeded. One arschin of cotton material was then
worth 9" 4 lb. of rye flour, on December ist.
1 3" 5 lb., and on January 1, 1923, from 171b. to
18 lb. Such a rise in the price of industrial pro
ducts can only lead to an interruption of the rela
tions between town and country, and to a crisis in
distribution.
According to a Soviet economic journal, vast
tracts of the country are suffering from a terrible
shortage of industrial products, while at the same
time they possess great values in the form of raw
materials.
When the representatives of our syndicates and trusts
[it adds] arrived at the Kirgjiz steppes to buy the flax which
is so indispensable for our factories, and offered two arschins
(56 inches) of calico for one pud (36 lb.) of flax, one can
no longer talk of a trade crisis but of a tragedy.
When I was in Moscow in January and February
of the present year I often heard from other sources
about the acute crisis in the local trade. A notice
able increase in the rents of stores and shops,
imposed by the Moscow Soviet, resulted in the
closing of many businesses.
I have not disguised the very great difficulties
that Russian trade has to overcome. But it must

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