Russia. No. 1 (1919). - 52. M. M. - to Earl Curzon.

No. 52.

M. M—— to Earl Curzon.—(Received February 8.)

Moscow, January 12, 1919.

I HAVE the honour to report that the food question in Moscow is growing more and more acute with every day. Nominally the population of this city has to obtain its food by the card system, cards of three categories having been introduced and the quantity of food available distributed in the following proportions :—

Category 1. Those working manual work … …   4

       "       2. Those working intellectual… ... …   3

       "       3. Those having no employment ... … 2

The difficulty, however, is that no food, except black bread, is available for distribution, and the quantity of bread distributed at present, namely, ½-pound for the first category, 3/8-pound for the second, and ¼-pound for the third, is completely insufficient to keep one alive. Other food-stuffs must be obtained from speculators at exorbitant prices, the seller as well as the purchaser running the risk of a heavy fine or imprisonment if denounced, as traffic in food-stuffs is strictly forbidden.

Thousands of men and women are going daily to distant country places with the object of purchasing and bringing into town some provisions, thus disarranging the regular railway traffic.

It is, however, not an easy matter to bring provisions into Moscow, as cordons of soldiers are searching passengers' luggage at country stations, and will take away, at their discretion, anything they think superfluous.

To illustrate the high cost of living at Moscow, I beg to enclose herewith a list of the food-stuffs which are still obtainable, together with the prices at which they are sold.



Food Prices at Moscow.


Denomination from roubles to roubles per lb.


Roubles per lb.*
Black bread 12 to 14
White bread not obtainable
Rye flour 15 to 16
Wheat flour 20 to 25
Meals 15 to 20
Rice 40
Potatoes 4 to 5
Carrots 3 to 4
Sugar 90 to 100
Butter 100 to 120
Tea 90 to 100
Sunflower oil 40 to 45
Horse flesh 12 to 16
Beef 27 to 30
Mutton 30 to 35
Pork 40 to 45
Lard and bacon 70 to 80

Roubles per lb.*

It is, however, impossible to obtain always provisions even at these prices.

*1 Rouble (nominal) = 2s. 1 ½ d. 1 Russia lb. = 14•4 oz.