17 February 1981* (St 250/10) Salt shortages

Secretariat [1.3]. Complaints by the population about shortages of cooking salt [Russian: 17 February 1981, St 250-10] 8 pp.


[page one of eight]

St 250/10, 17 February 1981

Top Secret

of the Secretariat of the CPSU Central Committee

Complaints by working people about disruption in supplies of household salt

Instruct the Committee of Party Control [1] at the Central Committee to examine the claims made in the attached memorandum, and subject those guilty of permitting this disruption of supplies of household salt to severe Party discipline.


Results of vote at the Central Committee secretariat on 17 February 1981

Secretaries of the Central Committee:

Comrade Suslov, M.A.for
Comrade Kirilenko, A.P.for
Comrade Chernenko, K.U.for
Comrade Gorbachev, M.S.for
Comrade Ponomaryov, B.N.for
Comrade Kapitonov, I.V.for
Comrade Dolgikh, V.I.for
Comrade Zimyanin, M.V.for
Comrade Rusakov, K.V.for


Excerpts to Comrades Chernenko, Pelshe, Yakovlev, Chusitov, Kabkov, Simonov, Mochalin

Despatched: 19 February 1981 Firsanova


[page two]



To CPSU Central Committee

Concerning complaints by working people about disruption in supplies of household salt

Ever more frequently among the letters from working people reaching the Central Committee from certain parts of the country about providing the population with food products are complaints about the difficulty of acquiring household salt, the limited choice and poor quality. The authors of the letters ask about the reasons behind the disruption in supplies of salt. They express the opinion that those employed in the economy should work harder and are not displaying the necessary concern about meeting the everyday needs and demands of working people. They ask that measures be taken to ensure that the population is fully supplied with this food product. Letters of a similar content are also being received from local Party and Soviet bodies, from the editorial offices of newspapers and magazines.

In a letter from Comrade Serdyuchenko, received from the town of Yelets (Lipetsk Region) it says: recently trade in our town is in a constantly “feverish” condition. First one commodity disappears, then another. And we’re talking about everyday necessities. Not long ago there was no household salt on sale. This stirs all kinds of inaccurate conclusions. You can’t help but think that certain managers are not taking into account the consequences of their sluggish behaviour and irresponsible attitude to work.

Salt is produced in our region, writes Comrade Yermilov (Filonovskaya station, Volgograd Region). How then can we explain that we have for a long time observed disruption in supplies of this product? It got so bad that staff from the children’s home went from one courtyard to another


[page three]

— 2 –

begging for a pinch of salt. Naturally, these shortcomings affect our output and our mood.

Comrade Krivets from Zaporozhe [Ukraine] reports: Last autumn the population faced a problem that it had nothing with which to salt its food. When salt appeared in certain shops queues immediately formed and buyers left without any buttons on their clothes and with torn packets [of salt]. Where has household salt disappeared? we ask.

Reports indicate that in recent years the enterprises of the USSR Ministry of the Food Industry have systematically failed to fulfil established plans for supplying salt to wholesalers. In 1979-1980 alone the shortfall was 415,000 tons while for the years of the 10th Five-Year Plan [1976-1981] the shortfall was more than 900,000 tons, of which 700,000 were not supplied to the system of consumer cooperatives. In order to avoid disruption in supplies of this product to the population trading organisations were forced to use a significant amount of salt from their current reserves. As a result, the required reserves of salt fell by almost one half. As of 1 January 1981, they stand at 785,000 tons or 114 days in trade, while the norm is set at 216 days of trade.

There are other shortcomings in providing the population with salt. The State Standard requires that this product be supplied in wrapped and boxed form: it is not being met. Last year industry was provided with 337,000 tons of salt without packaging, loose in waggons. It arrives dirty and unsuitable for consumption. Furthermore, supplying salt in this way leads to additional expense on its transport and storage. During the present year the USSR Ministry of the Food Industry and the USSR State Supply system propose


[page four]

— 3 –

that the USSR Ministry of Trade and the Central Union of Cooperatives agree to receive about 460,000 tons of salt, or 25% of the reserves, without packaging.

Expressing his concern at the unsatisfactory state of affair in the salt industry, Party member and Moscow resident Comrade Narbut notes that the strain of supplying the population with salt is also creating breakdowns in the provision of the railway wagons needed for its transport, thereby delaying the reconstruction of certain river ports in the country that have been used for these purposes.

We think it would be expedient to send this memorandum to the Central Committee departments for light and food industries, trade and everyday services, transport and communications, and also to the USSR and RSFSR Ministries for the Food Industry, the USSR Ministry of Trade, the Central Union of Cooperatives, the USSR State Supply system and the Ministry for Railroads and Waterways. [2]

Head of the Central Committee department for letters

B. Yakovlev  (B. Yakovlev)

16 February 1981

[pages five to eight; repeat the contents of one to four]



[1] The Committee of Party Control (or Oversight) enforced Party “discipline”. By the late 1970s its members were nominated by the Central Committee, not chosen as formerly by the Party Congress.

[2] Passage crossed out in second draft.


  • 1. Notes and additions by translator and editor are bracketed, thus [ ];
  • 2. Text added to original typed text by hand is indicated in italic script;
  • 3. when a handwritten phrase, figure or word has been inserted in a previously typed document it is indicated by underlined italic script.

Translation, John Crowfoot
23 July 2021