Surviving Russia's Next Winter

Life in Russia's capital is distressing indeed, reports CBS News Moscow Correspondent Richard Threlkeld. The economic calamity has cost some their jobs, many can't get their money from the banks, and the markets are running on empty.

It's different for country folks. They've been through good times and bad -- mostly bad -- and they've learned to cope.

Now, in late summer -- as always -- it's time to harvest the potatoes.

Russian agriculture is such a mess that most of the country's potatoes are grown in village plots or in backyard gardens. People store the potatoes to help them get through the winter. The potato is Russia's survival food.

The Dalkin family -- father, mother, and two boys -- are digging out their little potato plot.

"These potatoes will last all winter," says Alexander, the father. "That's our insurance."

The Dalkins don't have much faith in the latest Russian government, even though Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is promising to eventually make things right.

Alexander wants the Communists in power.

"After the Communists, everything fell apart," he says.

His 84-year-old uncle Sergei agrees.

"The Communists are the only way to save Russia," he says. "The present government, they're criminals -- mafia."

Over on the next row in the same field, Lyudmila Dalkin, the mother of the family, isn't thinking about politics. "It's going to be a cold, hungry winter," she says. "The crops are bad, the potatoes...everything's bad."

Lyudmila and the rest of the country folks are all too aware that they're going to need all their potatoes -- and all their survival skills -- to get them through until spring.

Reported by Richard Threlkeld
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