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PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 March, 2002, 12:00am

Local chew gums up USSR

Moscow (Mar 20): The manufacture of Russian chewing gum which began early this year, shows signs of bringing the chaos its critics feared.

Chewing gum, long cherished here by small boys and criticised by their parents as a symbol of Western vice, went into limited production in January in the Soviet republics of Armenia and Estonia.

It is scheduled to spread slowly throughout the Soviet Union to compete with smuggled American gum, which has sold for many years among young Russians for up to US$1 (about HK$5) a stick.

But wherever the Russian gum has appeared, according to an account yesterday in the youth newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, it has caused a turmoil.

Schoolboys line up at stores and buy the brightly coloured packets by the dozens. In school they chew it secretly despite the warnings of their teachers. And at home they ignore their parents who still insist that chewing gum, even Russian-made chewing gum, is 'worthless rubbish'.

Housewives are also discovering how sticky gum can be.

Meanwhile, young Russians are waiting impatiently for gum plants to open in their cities.

Graphic: RAGG17gwz