MOSCOW, DEC. 1 -- Leningrad today began its most comprehensive food rationing program since the Nazis' 900-day siege of the city a half-century ago.
Building managers throughout the city handed out ration coupons that gave each resident a monthly allotment of one pound of butter, two pounds of macaroni or cereal, one pound of vegetable oil, 10 eggs, one pound of flour, three pounds of meat and two pounds of sausage.
But residents reported that most state stores remained nearly bare. Members of the city council stood on street corners assuring Leningraders that food from abroad and other regions of the country was on its way. Official reports said the situation was much the same in three other Russian cities that had begun rationing: Nizhni Novgorod, Vorkuta in the polar north and Chelyabinsk in the Urals.
In an attempt to ease the food crisis, President Mikhail Gorbachev has ordered the formation of worker's committees, backed by the police and the KGB, to crack down on the theft and black-market sale of food. The KGB is setting up a division to ensure that the food pouring in from Germany and other Western countries reaches targeted areas.
Moscow mayor Gavril Popov said that while production was "not bad," the distribution system had collapsed and some regions had canceled their agreements to supply cities such as Moscow and Leningrad with supplies.
Gorbachev also issued a presidential order today forbidding any of the country's republics from setting up their own militias and declaring null and void any legislation by the republics that "contradicts Soviet defense capability."
The decree clearly was directed at the Baltic states and the Ukraine, where young men regularly dodge the draft and legislators have demanded the departure of Soviet troops.
The Associated Press reported from Vilnius, Lithuania:
The three Baltic parliaments, meeting today in their first joint session in history, asked Soviet troops to leave their region and protested the Kremlin's efforts to block their quest for independence.
The 265 lawmakers, who assembled in the Lithuanian capital, also appealed to the West to include them in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
"The occupation of the Baltic states is the last vestige of World War II," Estonian President Arnold Ruutel said in a keynote speech. The address set the tone of the session: harmony among the Baltic republics and what Ruutel called "refusal to submit to the will of the empire."