INTRODUCTION The XXVII Party Congress, held in 1986,

passed a resolution to provide each family with its own separate flat or house by the year 2000. Speaking at the end of 1988, the deputy chairman of the State Construction Committee (Gosstroi) declared that since the housing stock now stood at 4,300 million square metres of floor space, a further 2,800 million square metres would have to be erected by the end of the century in order to meet this goal (Rozanov 1988) . Put in other terms, the government has set the target at increasing housing construction by one and a half times and to erect 40 million new flats and individual houses by that date - in other words doubling the existing housing stock (Aganbegyan 1988a: 17). Abel Aganbegyan (one of Mr. Gorbachev's principal economic advisors), for whom the "housing problem (is) the worst social problem" faced by the country, has elevated housing - or rather the successful resolution of the perennial housing problem - to the status of keystone of perestroika. Although this might be an exaggeration, good grounds do exist for ascribing such prominence to housing in the restructuring process. Yet, the 'old' Party Programme, published in 1961 during the Khrushchev administration, had also grandiosely declared that by 1971 the housing shortage would have come to an end and by 1980 every family would have its own fully-equipped flat. Moreover, in the course of the second decade of building communism (defined, millenially, as the period 1970-1980) people would gradually cease to pay rent. Today, however, communism is no longer seen as lying just beyond 228

the horizon and its advent has been more than just deferred. Because housing targets have not been met in the past, many people today express

through their letters to the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council of Ministers, at public meetings and to the press their serious anxiety that the goal of providing each family with its own separate accommodation by the year 2000 will not be achieved. (Postanovlenie 1987: no. 28, art. 96).