RUSAG-L: Current Events #24

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.

The Russian Agricultural List Service is sponsored by the University of
Maryland College of Agriculture at College Park, the Research and Scientific
Exchanges Division, Foreign Agriculture Service/International Cooperation and
Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Committee on
International Science and Education of the Joint Council on Food and
Agricultural Sciences.

3 June 1994:
-A group of Don Cossacks picketed a government administration building in the
Rostov Oblast, demanding action on the rebirth of the Cossacks.  Some of the
Cossacks' demands included:  the payment of 30 billion rubles to Cossack
farmers and rural communities to conduct spring sowing, financial support for
Cossack fisheries and ecological protection, and talks to discuss the
legislative process that deals with Cossack interests. (RFE/RL, June 3, 1994)

31 May 1994:
-In a report to the State Duma, the head of Roskhleboprodukt, Russia's state
grain- purchasing agency, estimated that this year's grain harvest would fall
sharply to about 80 million tons.  Last year's grain harvest was 99 million
tons. (RFE/RL, May 31, 1994)

-The State Duma is expected to begin debating the draft budget on June 8.
Legislators and parliamentary committees have prepared a joint package of 184
amendments to the draft.  One of the amendments proposes to allocate an
additional 5.6 trillion rubles to finance spring field work.  This appears to
be in excess of the 18 trillion rubles already proposed for farm support.
(RFE/RL, May 31, 1994)

-Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, who is in charge of the privatization
program, has charged that laws passed to promote privatization are being
violated "massively" in Moscow.  Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov says the
privatization process benefits speculators and hurts the state.  Luzhkov has
vowed to use any legal means to thwart the process.  Chubais intends to submit
his post-voucher privatization plan to the State Duma by June 15.  If the Duma
does not pass the program, Chubais says the program will be implemented by
presidential decree. (RFE/RL, May 31, 1994)

20-27 May 1994:
-President Boris Yeltsin signed a package of economic decrees on May 23
designed to stabilize industry and relax controls on exports.  One of the
decrees reduced the list of food products subject to a 10 percent relief on
value-added tax.   Most export goods, including various food products, are
subject to the statutory 20 percent value-added tax. (Interfax News Agency,
Food and Agriculture Report, May 20-27, 1994, p. 2)

-In the Penza region, seven of the agricultural machinery plants have not
worked all year.  During a visit to the area, Vice Prime Minister Aleksandr
Zaveryukha described the situation as critical.  Production in the
agricultural machinery industry has declined 82 percent in the first quarter
of this year compared to the same period in 1993. Zaveryukha blamed the crisis
on the drop in Russian farmers' purchasing power and mutual debts between
enterprises. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, May 20-27,
1994, p. 3)

-Ukraine has requested to join the international union for the protection of
new types of plants.  The republic has already signed a cooperation agreement
with 11 countries.  Currently, 52 foreign firms are offering Ukraine new types
of agricultural crops.  Experts expect these agreements to create more
favorable conditions for attracting foreign investment into plant selection
and seed production. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, May
20-27, 1994, p. 5)

-According to Ivan Gridasov of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Russian
farmers have managed to decrease the distance between the level of spring
sowing this year over last year from 3.1 million hectares to 2.3 million
hectares.  43.2 million hectares of the 74 million hectares of spring crops
had been planted as of May 23.  Lack of lubricants and fuel have hampered this
year's spring sowing.  Also, some of the regions have been negligent in
supplying seed from state stores.  Only 26,000 tons of some 45,000 tons have
been supplied. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, May 20-27,
1994, p. 6)

15 May 1994:
-US Agriculture Secretary, Mike Espy, said on a trip to South Africa that
Russia was in the market for about 300,000 tons of wheat.  Espy explained that
the US would be willing to consider both cash and credit terms to help the
Russians buy US grain.  Further US credit sales to Russia apparently depends
on whether or not the Russians clear a small amount of outstanding debt on
previous sales.  Espy indicated that the money was already on its way. (The
Moscow Times, May 15, 1994, p. 53)

-According to the Vienna Institute for Comparative Studies, agricultural
output in Russia and the states of the former Soviet Union will continue to
decline in 1994.  The study attributes the decline to the return of land to
the private sector, a decrease in subsidization, and drought.  Because it will
help people supply themselves with food, over-employment in the agricultural
sector is also expected to continue and to act as a cushion against social
problems and poverty. (The Moscow Times, May 15, 1994, p.53)

-Acting Finance Minister Sergei Dubinin predicts inflation will rise to about
10 percent this summer and then level off to between 5 and 7 percent by the
end of the year.   The increase is expected to occur because of seasonal
government spending for the harvest and for supplying the northern
territories. (The Moscow Times, May 15, 1994, p. 51)


-According to Ioan Gavra, vice chairman of the Party of Romanian National
Unity, one of his members may soon be appointed Minister of Agriculture.  The
PRNU had signed an earlier agreement to join the coalition with the ruling
Party of Social Democracy, but the agreement was never implemented because of
warnings from the West.  The PRNU has demanded ministerial portfolios in
exchange for its support.  Extreme nationalist, Gheorghe Funar, mayor of Cluj,
heads the PRNU. (RFE/RL, June 3, 1994)


-The Uzbek government has announced a 50 percent increase in wages, effective
June 1.  In edition, prices for basic goods and energy will increase by as
much as 300 percent.  As a result, bread and flour prices are expected to
triple.  Uzbek president Islam Karimov, in announcing the wage increase
alongside the price escalations, appears to be trying to avoid a repeat of the
riots that occurred with the last price hikes.  Two students were killed in
Tashkent. (RFE/RL, June 1, 1994)