RUSAG-L: Current Events #54

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 Open Media Research Center
(OMRI), Interfax News, Food and Agriculture Report, the Foreign
Broadcast Information Service at the Central Intelligence
Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS), Nexis/Lexis through
Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington Post.

The Russian Agricultural ListServ 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.

11 April 1995:

-The current exchange rate is listed at R4957 per dollar.  (The
Washington Post, April 11, 1995)

10 April 1995:

-Sergei Kushnyarov, a founding member of the Agrarian Party, was
found stabbed to death outside his Moscow home on April 6.
Officials say Kushnyarov's death was probably a contract killing.
Kushnyarov had remained an active member of the Agrarian Party
until his death.  (OMRI, April 10, 1995)

6 April 1995:

-Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin told a meeting of the All
Russian Assembly of Peasants in Moscow on April 5 that the
Russian government intends to continue agricultural reforms.
Chernomyrdin said that the government intends to grant landowners
certificates of ownership.  He explained that land auctions would
be used to facilitate the process and that the government would
consider a draft law to permit the sale of land now occupied by
enterprises.  In addition, Chernomyrdin stressed that the
government would help insolvent agricultural enterprises to stay
afloat, but only after inflation was brought under control.
(OMRI, April 6, 1995)

-Delegates to the Peasants' Assembly stated their support for
equality of ownership and land use but rejected the idea of
private property, including small garden plots and summer houses
owned by urban dwellers.  Members of the Assembly urged President
Boris Yeltsin to provide the necessary funds for spring sowing
and to introduce necessary economic regulations within three
days.  Mikhail Lapshin, Agrarian Party leader, indicated he will
organize a national peasant strike if the demands are not met
within 10 days.  (OMRI, April 6, 1995)

-Russian Agricultural and Food Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk
reiterated the need for rural assistance in carrying out spring
sowing.  Nazarchuk described the situation on the eve of spring
sowing as being "very difficult."  Lack of funds continues to
prevent farmers from acquiring fertilizer, fuel, and lubricants
and from renewing equipment.  (Nexis-Lexis through Mead Data
Central, Inc., the BBC, text reported by Russian Mayak radio,
April 6, 1995)

5 April 1995:

-Agrarian Party leader, Mikhail Lapshin, denied reports that the
Agrarians intend to form an alliance with the communists.
Lapshin said the Agrarian Party would work with the Agrarian
Union, Trade Unions of the Agro-Industrial Complex, and the
National Council of Farmers.  The Agrarian Party boasts 250,000
members and its potential support is large, considering that more
than a third of the Russian population lives in the countryside.
(OMRI, April 5, 1995)

-According to the director of the Economic Analysis Institute,
Andrei Illarionov, the Russian economy is closer to financial
stabilization than it has ever been.  He said that inflation
could fall to as low as 3% a month by mid-year, compared to a
rate of 9% in March, 11% in February, and 18% in January.
Illarionov credited the IMF's standby loan of $6.3 billion with
helping to stabilize the economy.  (OMRI, April 5, 1995)

-Officials representing countries representing the former Soviet
Union have agreed to draft a framework for a free trade area for
agricultural produce.  The Common Agricultural Market, as it
would be known, envisions removing tariffs on farm goods between
countries and establishing a common customs boundary.  Russian
officials said the plan was an attempt to half agricultural
decline in the area.  Reports indicate that by 1992 grain flows
in the former republics were only 60% of what they were in 1990.
Vegetable trade had declined to 50% of what it was; meat to 36%,
and milk and dairy goods to 23%.  In Russia alone, demand has
driven down meat production 32% between 1990 and 1994.  Experts
remain skeptical of any multi-lateral agreement between the
states, given their track record in the past.  (Nexis-Lexis
through Mead Data Central, Inc., The Financial Times, April 5,
1995)

3 April 1995:

-In a poll of 2000 Russians across 12 regions of European Russia,
Siberia, and the Far East, 70% of respondents named rising prices
as Russia's worst problem.  56% of the respondents tagged crime;
33% unemployment, and 20% pollution and corruption.  55% of the
respondents thought their economic situation had deteriorated
over the past 6 months while; 31% that it had remained the same,
and 13% that it had improved.  38% said converting to a market
economy was the right policy for Russia and 33% thought the
policy was wrong.  The poll was conducted by the Russian Academy
of Sciences' Sociological Institute, Yekaterinberg State
University, and Kazan State University.  (OMRI, April 3, 1995)

-Experts at the National Board of Statistics said foodstuff
prices have been leveling over the past few months.  The 19
essential foodstuffs cost on average R157,300 per month.  In
Moscow, the cost is close to R200,000 per month.  (OMRI, April 3,
1995)

29 March 1995:

-The Association of Russian Farmers and Agricultural Cooperatives
signed an agreement with the government, giving non-state farmers
the right to a share of state subsidies proportional to the
amount of land they cultivate.  Previously, private farmers
received only 2%-5% of the money spent on agriculture, even
though they worked 10% of the land.  In exchange for the new
subsidies, the Farmers Association will organize the delivery of
agricultural produce to federal and regional food funds in
volumes set by the Association and the Federal Food Corporation.
Last year, Russia's private farmers accounted for 5.7% of the
total grain yield, 5.7% of sugar beets, and 14% of sunflower
seeds.  (OMRI, March 29, 1995)

10 March 1995:

-Security experts at the Federal Counterintelligence Service
report that timber exporters concealed 50% of their foreign
currency earnings in 1994.  About 30% of Russia's timber products
were exported at dumping prices in 1994.  In some places, such as
the Perm region, even timber was exported below domestic prices.
The Arkhangelsk pulp-and-paper mill was reported to have
concealed $7.8 million of export revenues.  A dramatic decline in
production alongside the widespread corruption has made even
timber producers themselves come out for government regulation of
the industry.  (Nexis-Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc.,
Russica Information Inc., RusData DiaLine-BizEkon News, March 10,
1995)

28 February 1995:

-Experts believe that cattle breeding can be revived in Russia
with the help of the government.  The number of cattle in Russia
bred for meat production is currently less than it was in the
1960s.  The number of head has fallen from 1.5 million to 800-900
thousand in 1994.  Traditional Russian meat bearing regions
include the dry plains of the south Urals, south-east Russia,
Rostov region, Kalmyk republic, eastern and western Siberia,
Altai territory, and the Far East.  Many of these areas have been
exhausted or the land has been plowed up for wheat or used for
sheep herding.  The board of the Russian Agricultural and
Foodstuffs Ministry and the Russian Agricultural Academy have
developed a program to increase meat production between 1995-
2000.  In addition, cattle breeding will get direct financial
subsidies, beginning in 1995.  (Nexis-Lexis through Mead Data
Central, Inc., Russica Information Inc., RusData DiaLine-BizEkon
News, February 28, 1995)


AREAS OF INTEREST

Bulgaria

7 April 1995:

-The Bulgarian Socialist majority's proposed amendment to the
land law has met considerable opposition in Parliament.  The
Socialist majority wants to restitute land based on declarations
of ownership at the time previous owners joined farm cooperatives
under Communist rule.  Opposition parties claim the declarations
are invalid because they were submitted under pressure and
represented much smaller plots of land than the actual plots were
in reality.  No vote was taken in the parliament because of the
continuing disorder.   (OMRI, April 7, 1995)


Romania

27 March 1995:

-Between 3000 and 6000 Romanian farmers in Iasi protested delays
in returning land seized by communists.  The farmers called for a
revision of the 1991 Land Law and for more government support for
agriculture.  The National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic,
the largest party within the Democratic Convention of Romania,
organized the demonstration.  (OMRI, March 27, 1995)