Police used tear gas "to calm down" women shopping in the Siberian city of Tomsk, and undertakers in another Russian town issued fake death certificates so they could get extra vodka and food, the Soviet government newspaper said.

In other signs of the country's political and economic crisis, miners remained on strike for higher wages in the Ukraine's Donbass coal field and the Armenian Parliament voted to ask its citizens whether they want to remain part of the Soviet Union in a forthcoming nationwide referendum.