Snow muffles Moscow’s streets, but inside the Great Kremlin Palace it is excessively warm and light. A mass of energetic-looking people are arriving. All have put on their best clothes; many wear medals, which especially commemorate some feat of labour. At ten o’clock, members of the Politburo enter the chamber, taking their places on a stepped stage facing the Supreme Soviet delegates who stand up as a mark of respect. Everyone claps. The agenda is quickly confirmed, by unanimous vote of course, and soon the Chairman of the State Planning Commission mounts the rostrum. The delegates settle down. Lenin in his niche advances a left arm and left leg. Now it is the turn of the Minister of Finance. The words drone on. We are surely in the world of Palmerston with his five-and-a-half hour speeches, perhaps a modern version of ‘Civis Romanus Sum’, only this is a land empire and one of no mean proportions, ten hours’ difference between Brest-Litovsk and the Bering Strait.... Within two to three days the Budget Law has been promulgated, the delegates are dispersing. A swift and impressively orchestrated routine!
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