RUSAG-L: Current Events #14

Please keep in mind that the following current events information 
represents information about events in Russian agriculture we received 
during the past week, while the actual events may have occurred earlier.

The sources for the information below include, but are not limited to, the 
following: the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Daily Report (RFE/RL), the 
Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the Central Intelligence Agency's 
Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture's AG 
a.m., Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington 
Post. 


4 February 1994:
-Minister of Economics Aleksandr Shokhin told deputies in the Council of 
Federation that his ministry is preparing its own recommendations on 
economic reform in 1994. He indicated his position is closer to that of 
Egor Gaidar and that he will oppose an alternative economic program 
proposed by some of Gorbachev's former advisors. Shokhin also expressed 
disapproval of new government subsidies to the agriculture sector. 
(RFE/RL, February 4, 1994)

-The directors of vodka and spirit plants in Moscow claimed that new taxes 
have raised production costs by more than one-half, leading to an 80 
percent drop in vodka output in January. They also complained that unless 
the government reduced the burden of excise and other taxes the domestic 
output of vodka and other liquors would cease. (RFE/RL, February 4, 1994) 


3 February 1994:
-Although the vote was scheduled for review, the Russian cabinet was 
reported to have approved an allocation of 14 trillion rubles for farm 
support in 1994. Bizness-Tass cites the projected 1994 budgetary revenues 
at no more than 80-100 trillion rubles. Andrei Illarionov of the Working 
Center for Economic Reform maintains that another 14 trillion rubles will 
be needed to form the federal food funds and an additional 6 trillion 
rubles to carry out spring operations. This brings the total amount of 
funds requested or anticipated for the agriculture sector to 34 trillion 
rubles. (RFE/RL, February 4, 1994)

-According to Deputy Labor Minister Valerii Kolosov, money incomes rose by 
1100 percent in 1993 and consumer prices increased by 940 percent. 13 
percent of the population had incomes below 36,000 rubles, which officials 
estimate as




necessary to purchase the minimum amount of foodstuffs. 30 percent were 
said to be below the subsistence minimum of 50,000 rubles a year. (RFE/RL, 
February 4, 1994)

-A group of specialists at the Agriculture Ministry have prepared a draft 
for the production of potatoes through the year 2000. Responding to the 
decreased production in potatoes in Russia over the past four years, the 
specialists argue that, given enough money, R395.4 billion, Russia's 
production of potatoes would exceed 40 million tons a year. The draft also 
cited plans to introduce a new product into Russian agriculture, sugar 
starch. (Nexis/Lexis, through Mead Data Central, Inc., Reuter Textline, 
Byline: AgroFact News Agency, February 3, 1994)


2 February 1994:
-According to figures released by the State Committee for Statistics, 
industrial output for January plunged 25.5 percent. The January fall 
compares to an 18 percent drop during the same time period in 1993 and a 
16 percent drop in 1992. Industrial output usually dips at the beginning 
of the year due to seasonal factors, but officials have offered no 
explanation for the abnormally large drop. (RFE/RL, February 2, 1994) 


31 January 1994:
-The Clinton administration seems prepared to accept the fact that reforms 
will not continue at the pace sought by President Clinton in his Moscow 
meeting with Boris Yeltsin. However, Russia's Prime Minister Chernomyrdin 
continues to assure the rest of the world that reforms will go forward. 
(U.S. Department of Agriculture's Ag a.m., January 31, 1994) 
Chernomyrdin's assurances contrast sharply with his message at home, which 
calls for a sharp drop in major market reforms.


29 January 1994:
-Vice Premier Aleksandr Zaveryukha believes Russia should stop importing 
food. He says farmers have stored about 12 million tons of grain in their 
barns. This grain, since it is in excess of the required amount they sold 
to the state, suggests Russia can do without food imports. Zaveryukha also 
advocates increasing custom duties for milk and meat imports to 20 percent 
and for sugar up to 25 percent. (Nexis-Lexis through Mead Data Central 
Inc., Russian Press Digest, January 29, 1994)


24 January 1994:
-Former Russian government economic advisor Anders Aslund of the Stockholm 
School of Economics told Interfax that the new 



government should exclude lobbyists like Vice Premier Aleksandr Zaveryukha 
from the government to avoid a diversion from the course of reforms. 
Aslund, along with Jeffery Sachs of Harvard University, had worked for the 
Russian government since 1991 before his resignation in January of this 
year. (FBIS, January 24, 1994) 



Area of Interest: Belarus

7 February 1994:
-Anatoli Hrytsai, head of Belarus' grain department, announced his 
government's intention of buying grain from Western Europe instead of from 
Kazakhstan. According to Hrytsai, Kazakh grain has become too expensive. 
Belarus had a contract to buy one million tons of Kazakh grain before the 
Kazakhstan government announced an increase of $115 per ton was announced. 
Belarus has already bought 35,000 tons of grain from Great Britain and 
Finland using a $4 million loan from the World Bank. (RFE/RL, February 7, 
1994)