Soviet citizens have been deprived of cheap soap for months and the government newspaper Izvestia says the "socialist market" promoted by Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev has done nothing to improve the situation.

People have had to buy luxury soap costing at least $1.30 a bar to wash themselves and their clothes, as detergent powder has also vanished from the stores.Cheap soap is the latest in a series of recent shortages that have included toothpaste, towels and toilet paper.