157. Memorandum From Richard Pipes of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clark)1


  • Soviet and East European Update

Polish Economy: Bad and getting worse. Insufficient availability of raw materials and supplies has caused some 40 percent of Polish industrial capacity to be shut down. Light industry has been especially hard hit. For the first time in years there is a surplus of electric power. There is talk of layoffs and an estimated 300,000 Polish workers are said by official Polish newspapers to be threatened with unemployment. High Polish bureaucrats admit both privately and publicly that [Page 525] without the lifting of Western sanctions and fresh credits the Polish economy cannot be improved and faces “catastrophe”. There is fear in Warsaw of mass violence caused not by political motives but by anger over the dramatic drop in living standards. (S)

Soviet Union:

Because of personnel shortages, the Soviet Union has altered its student draft deferments, sharply cutting down the number of students eligible for them. (C)

A senior Soviet official told an American executive that because of hard currency shortages, in the immediate future the USSR will have to confine its imports largely to food: even important energy-related projects will have to be delayed. (S)

There are rumors that Soviet authorities have ceased to accept applications from Jews wishing to emigrate. There is a likelihood that Jewish emigration will be completely suspended. (S)

On the succession crisis there is nothing new to report: Brezhnev is suffering from a heart-related complication which has incapacitated him but does not seem to pose an immediate danger to his life. (S)

  1. Source: Reagan Library, Matlock Files, USSR: Geneva [1981–1983] (4/5). Secret. Sent for information.