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Young people in the USSR can be elected to state bodies nt the age of 18. Isn’t there a danger of their becoming pawns in the hands of more experienced deputies?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

No. For one thing, the young people who are elected to the Soviets have already displayed their organisational abilities and have considerable expe­rience in social work. They can, of course, seek advice and help from the more experienced depu­ties, but this in no way deprives them of their inde­pendence. The local government bodies-local Soviets-face a great many day-to-day problems per­taining to the economic, social and cultural life of the town or district, and the young help cope with them.

It was the young deputies on the standing com­mittees of the USSR Supreme Soviet who recently raised the question of living conditions in the new towns of Siberia, and in the Soviet Far North and Far East, where the average age of the population is about 25. The focus was on the need to help working women, and especially mothers with small children.

In recent years the Soviet government has taken more than 100 decisions concerning the younger gen- eration-their studies, working and living condi­tions, opportunities for raising skills, as well as lei­sure facilities. The young deputies were deeply in­volved in drafting each of these decisions. Their views were taken into account in formulating the Basic Principles of the Labour Code, and the laws on education and health protection.

Young deputies on many occasions put forward their amendments to the drafts of the national five- year and annual economic plans and the budget esti­mates. Thus, when the USSR Supreme Soviet at the end of 1977 debated the country's economic and social plan and budget estimates for 1978, one of the matters raised was that of expanding and im­proving the programme for training specialists with a higher and specialised secondary education, and of bettering their material situation. It was decided, for instance, to increase the monthly grants to stu­dents of some vocational and trade schools. In keep­ing with the recommendations of young deputies, the State Planning Commission amended the Tenth Five-Year Plan (1976-1980) to provide additional funds for the building of Pioneer clubs and for the production of more books, teaching aids, and both regular and TV films for children and teenagers.

It is only natural that the problems of the youth should lie closest to the hearts of the young depu­ties, and that their attention should be focused on them.

All Soviet deputies are guided in their work by the proposals made by their electorate and adopted by a majority at election meetings. Deputies report back regularly to their electorate on how these pro­posals are being implemented by state and public organisations. Should they fail in this duty, the elec­torate can recall them and elect other deputies, without waiting for the next general election. The right of recall is a useful spur. It keeps a deputy on his toes. So no deputy, young or old, can afford to become a pawn in another's hand.