RUSAG-L: Current Events #56


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.


13 May 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R5130 per
dollar.  (The Washington Post, May 13, 1995)


11 May 1995:

-Duma speaker Ivan Rybkin has agreed to join a new agrarian
electoral bloc led by Agrarian Party Chairman Mikhail Lapshin.
The new bloc will also include:  the Agrarian Union of Russia,
the trade union of workers in the agro-industrial complex, and
other farmers' associations.  However, Rybkin still maintains the
need for a broader center-left electoral alliance to appeal to
the 70% of voters, whom he contends, would not otherwise
participate in the election.  (OMRI, May 11, 1995)


9 May 1995:

-In an article published in Izvestiya, Duma speaker and Agrarian
Party member Ivan Rybkin was accused of removing humanitarian aid
for Russian children from his plane on a return trip from the US.
Rybkin allegedly removed the aid and replaced it with furniture.
Rybkin's press secretary explained that the furniture belonged to
the Russian Embassy and that Rybkin could not accept the
humanitarian aid because he had not been instructed to do so by
the Duma.  However, the Duma Committee On International Affairs,
rejecting Rybkin's explanation, expressed regret that the Duma
had been denied help in transporting humanitarian aid to Russia.
(OMRI, May 9, 1995)

-The president of the US company, Hartec, which is spearheading
the Komi oil clean-up along with an Australian company,
criticized the Russian government's delay in seeking financial
help.  According to the president, if funding had been secured
earlier, clean-up workers would not be caught in the early thaw.
Oil released as snow and ice melts is causing considerable
environmental damage.  Others fear the money lent by the World
Bank to fund the clean-up will end up in other government funds.
(OMRI, May 9, 1995)

-In March, the average monthly wage was 361,500 rubles or about
$71, 13 percent higher than in February.  The State Statistics
Committee also reported 1.47 million rubles or $286 as the
highest wage, paid in the gas industry.  The lowest wage was paid
in agriculture, 147,000 rubles or about $29.  (OMRI, May 9, 1995)


5 May 1995:

-Communist party leader Gennady Zyuganov announced that an
alliance of state-oriented and patriotic groups would participate
in the June 1996 presidential elections.  He said the bloc would
present nominees for the posts of prime minister and cabinet
members.  Zyuganov said Agrarian Party leader Mikhail Lapshin was
ready to join the bloc.  (OMRI, May 5, 1995)

-According to Western and Russian agencies, Cuba and Russia have
reached an oil-sugar barter deal.  Russia is expected to supply
Cuba with 3 million metric tons of crude oil in exchange for 1
million tons of raw sugar.  Although viewed by some Western
officials as subsidies for Cuba, Russian Deputy Prime Minister
Oleg Davydov argued Russia needs the raw sugar to keep its sugar
refineries open.  The sugar  processing industry employs
approximately 100,000 people.  Davydov also noted that Russia
will need about 2 million tons of sugar this year to bridge the
gap between supply and demand.  (OMRI, May 5, 1995)


3 May 1995:

-A Russian Environment Ministry report says only one-half of the
country's arable land is fit for cultivation and that one-half
the population drinks water that poses a health threat.  The
environmental report listed the following regions as those with
the most heavily polluted drinking water:  Moscow, Orel,
Smolensk, Orenburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Tula oblasts.  In
addition, major industrial centers often exceed the World Health
Organization's norms for air pollution more than ten times.
Russia has the highest sulfur emissions in Europe.  (OMRI, May 3,
1995)

-In reply to an article in The Economist, Russian National
Security Council member, Alexei Yablokov, said that more than 30%
of Soviet food in the 1980s was "enriched" with pesticides in
quantities above officially accepted safety levels.  Yablokov
attributed the excess pesticides to a government plan for the
"chemicalisation" of Soviet agriculture.  He went on to explain
that Russian agriculture has now cut back in the number of
pesticides used, but not for health reasons.  Consequently,
Russian food is much healthier now than ten years ago.
(Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., The Economist,
April 29, 1995)


28 April-May 5 1995:

-Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha announced that, if he
runs for the Federal Assembly, it will be on an Agrarian ticket.
He also noted that he thinks the agrarian movement will ballot as
"an independent association and united front."  Representatives
of the Agrarian Party, the Agrarian Union, and the Farm Workers'
Union will meet on May 5 to discuss which, if any, of the
parliament's new centrist alliances to join in the run-up to the
December elections.  The Agrarian Party is counting on the
support of the rural population which represents about 38% of
Russia's electorate.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
April 28-May 5, 1995).

-Minister of Agriculture and Food Alexander Nazarchuk reported
that Russian farmers had sown 10 million hectares of spring crops
by April 24.  Nazarchuk said farmers would sow the 71 million ha
forecasted, but the quality of crops and the actual harvest would
depend on government support for the sector.  Farmers still lack
the necessary machinery and fuel.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, April 28-May 5, 1995).

-According to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha, the
Russian government is poised to increase import duties on food.
Duties for imported meat are expected to increase from 8% to 15%
and butter from 15% to 20%.  55% of all products Muscovites buy
are imported by commercial organizations, which provide two-
thirds of the city's butter and cheese, over 80% of its sugar,
and over 25% of its fish.  Approximately 70% of Moscow's
vegetables are shipped in from other parts of Russia, but a lot
of potatoes, vegetables, and fruit is purchased abroad.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, April 28-May 5, 1995)


28 April-May 4, 1995:

-During this past week, the average cost of a basket of 19
essential foods increased by 1.4%.  The cities of the Far East
had the most expensive baskets:  a basket of goods costs 388,000
rubles in Anadyr.  The lowest basket price was 95,000 rubles in
Ulyanovsk.  In Moscow, the basket price was 198,000 rubles and
179,000 rubles in St. Petersburg.  Last week's inflation rate was
1.7%.


BULGARIA

3 May 1995:

-On May 2, Lyudmil Vodenicharov, a member of the Parvenec local
council, was killed by a car bomb.  Vodenicharov was also
chairman of the local liquidation council which oversees the
privatization of agricultural cooperatives.  He allegedly wanted
to buy the local coop cold-storage depot, one of the largest in
Bulgaria.  Officials speculate that his plan may have interfered
with the business interests of wholesale fruit traders, which may
have led to his death.  (OMRI, May 3, 1995)


CIS

28 April-May 5, 1995:

-According to the CIS Statistics Committee, there has been an
increase in the rural population since 1991.  However, the number
of people directly employed in agriculture has declined.  The
main factor swelling rural population growth is the
administrative transformation of urban settlements into rural
ones.  Young people between the ages of 16-29 represent one-third
of the rural work force, but most young people are not employed
in agriculture.  Officials attribute problems associated with
market reform, production decline, and other factors for rural
unemployment, which averaged 1.65% in the middle of 1994, 1.5% in
Russia.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, April 28-May 5,
1995).

-Although the number of animals at farms in the first quarter of
1995 fell throughout the CIS, the number of animals on private
farms increased.  Experts say high food prices my be contributing
to this trend.  Many families rear their own animals because they
are unable to afford the prices for meat and dairy products in
stores.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, April 28-May 5,
1995).