RUSAG-L: Current Events #16

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 

25 February 1994:
-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R1657 per dollar. 
The exchange rate cited February 24 by The Post was R1624 per dollar and 
February 23 R1585. (_The Washington Post_, February 25, 24, 23, 1994) 

18 February 1994:
-Russian officials project Russia will need to import 13 to 14 million 
tons of grain in 1994. Nonetheless, the Russian government has already 
decided to cut grain imports by one-half this year. (U.S. Department of 
Agriculture's AG a.m., February 18, 1994)

-Jerry Hough, a political scientist at Duke University, addressed the 
results of Russia's parliamentary elections in a seminar conducted by the 
Kennan Institute in Washington D.C. Mr. Hough attributed the Agrarian 
Party's poor showing in the countryside to Zhirinovsky being set up as the 
main opposition to Yeltsin, to an effective campaign by Zhirinovsky and a 
very ineffective campaign by the Agrarian Party, and to a general 
anti-government vote by the rural population. According to Mr. Hough's 
data, Zhirinovsky received 27.8 percent of the vote in the countryside and 
the Agrarian Party only 10 percent. 
Mr. Hough stressed the need to understand the importance of the underlying 
dynamics in the countryside in regard to any future parliamentary or 
presidential elections. (Seminar, Kennan Institute, Washington D.C.) Mr. 
Hough had an earlier article on the parliamentary elections called 
"Schlock Therapy." See the _Washington Post_, January 30, 1994, pp. c1-2. 

17 February 1994:
-In a break with past conventions, the Russian government announced its 
willingness to accept U.S. manufactured drugs deemed acceptable by the 
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This agreement eliminates old barriers 
that required drug manufacturers to provide Russian translations of 
scientific information provided to the FDA. The Russians had also insisted 
that drug manufacturers conduct separate clinical trials and laboratory 
experiments before the drugs could be
exported to Russia. The new agreement stipulates that U.S. drug companies 
need only submit a copy of the FDA approval letter for a drug along with 
basic facts about the company, plus a copy of the company's most recent 
FDA inspection report. The two governments have also agreed to consider 
including certain foods and medical devices in the arrangement within the 
next six months. (_The Washington Post_, February 17, 1994) 

15 February 1994:
-In an address to a congress of Russian farmers, Yeltsin, Deputy Premier 
Zaveryukha, and the head of the Central Bank, Gerashchenko, stress 
different aspects of the agricultural sector but each promises help to the 
small farmers. Yeltsin emphasized the success of private farmers and noted 
the influence that farmers have attained in Russian society. Zaveryukha 
urged farmers to set up peasant banks and insurance companies that could 
help solve problems of credit and compensation for losses. Central Bank 
governor Gerashchenko reiterated his support of a multi-structured economy 
and stressed the need to support large agricultural enterprises as well as 
small farms. Gerashchenko also voiced his support for congress delegates 
who favored the establishment of peasant banks. (Nexis\Lexis, through Mead 
Data Central, Inc., British Broadcasting Company, February 15, 1994) 

-Former Finance Minister Boris Fyodorov singled out the government's 
planned agricultural subsidies for special criticism at a news conference 
in Moscow. Fyodorov noted Zaveryukha's excessive promise of more than $9 
billion to Russia's state and collective farms this year. Suggesting those 
figures were probably much higher, he pointed to Andrei Illarionov's 
warning before his resignation as director of the Russian government's 
Center for Economic Reform last week. Illarionov said that subsidies and 
tax breaks to the agricultural sector will come closer to $22.4 billion. 
Fyodorov also charged that Prime Minister Chernomyrdin was totally opposed 
to private farming and argued that the entire team in charge of the 
agricultural sector should have been dismissed. (Nexis\Lexis through Mead 
Data Control, Inc., _The Washington Times_, February 15, 1994)

11 February 1994:
-In a meeting with Siberian trade union activists and workers, Prime 
Minister Chernomyrdin said that payments for debts for agricultural 
products purchased by the state from peasants last autumn will begin 
within the next few days. Those debts total some 1,000 billion rubles. 
Chernomyrdin did warn, however, that the debts will not all be paid at 
once. (FBIS, February 14, 1994) 

8 February 1994:
-Experts at Russia's Labor Ministry reported that the average wages in 
Russia were eight times higher in December 1993 than in December 1992. 
However, prices rose almost ten-fold. The report also noted that the gap 
between people's wages also widened with the average salaries of the 
highest paid workers being 27 times higher than the wages of the low-paid 
workers who make up the same percentage. (FBIS, February 8, 1994) 

10 February 1994:
-Vasiliy Starodubtsev, chairman of the Agrarian Party, believes Former 
Minister Gaidar and his team should be held responsible for bankrupting 
the domestic and agricultural industries. He noted that Western countries 
heavily subsidize their agricultural sectors with the share of subsidies 
in farmers' total expenditures reaching 50-60 percent. Starodubtsev 
suggested Gaidar and his reformers had crushed socialist agriculture to 
please Western farmers. (FBIS, February 10, 1994)

-Tamara Maksiminkova, chief specialist of the Department of Weather 
Forecasting of Rosgidromettsentr, issued a report on the possible effects 
of January and February weather on Russia's winter crops. According to 
Maksiminkova, there will be no freezing of winter grain crops on large 
areas. Temperatures for the most part have remained within normal ranges, 
and the snow coverage has been sufficient to protect the plants from the 
cold. (FBIS, Central Eurasia, February 10, 1994)

7 February 1994:
-The Council of Ministers Presidium approved the Russian Federation 
Government Resolution "On the Functioning of the Russian Federation 
Agro-Industrial Complex in 1994" and issued orders for it to be finalized 
within ten days. The draft was prepared by First Deputy Premier 
Zaveryukha's department. The resolution called for state support of the 
agricultural sector with an investment credit of 1.3 trillion rubles and 
2.8 trillion rubles of centralized capital inputs for the first quarter of 
1994. It was also proposed to compensate 30 percent of expenditures for 
fertilizer purchases and to impose restrictive custom duties on the import 
of "white sugar, wool, flax and hemp fibers, and industrially harvested 
fur and pelt materials." The Economy Ministry estimates that the cost of 
the program will amount to R34 trillion and actually exceed the volume of 
agricultural imports tenfold. (FBIS, February 7, 1994)

Featured Country-Ukraine

-According to Economics Minister Roman Shpek, the government has allotted 
24 trillion Ukrainian karbovanets ($666 million) as credits to state 
agriculture and industry in the first two months of this year. The money 
is equivalent to half of all the money circulating in Ukraine. The 
government action is seen as an attempt to stave off mass factory and farm 
shutdowns and the layoffs of tens of thousands of workers. (_The 
Washington Post_, February 23, 1994)