RUSAG-L: Current Events #59

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.

24 June 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4562 per
dollar.  (The Washington Post, June 24, 1995).


26 June 1995:

-According to Goskomstat figures, the production of meat
products, cheese, preserved milk, and low-fat milk products fell
between 17 and 35 percent on average the first five months of
1995.  In addition, the production of staples declined by an
average of 12 percent.  The output of potatoes and margarine
products fell by 34 percent and 20 percent respectively.  (OMRI,
June 26, 1995).

23 June 1995:

-The Communist deputies in the Duma, in cooperation with
Democratic Russia and the Agrarian Party, have collected more
than 100 of the 150 signatures needed to place an impeachment
motion before the Duma.  The attempt to impeach Yeltsin is in
response to the Duma's passing a no-confidence vote in
Chernomyrdin's government and Yeltsin's subsequent threat to
dissolve the Parliament.  According to Article 109 of the Russian
Constitution, a two-thirds majority vote for impeachment would
prevent Yeltsin from disbanding the Parliament.  (OMRI, June 23,
1995).

22 June 1995:

-The Communist Party, the Agrarian Party, the Liberal Democratic
Party, the Yabloko group, and New Regional Policy formed an
alliance that led to a no-confidence vote in the Chernomyrdin
government.  The vote was scheduled earlier over the government's
economic policy, but the events in southern Russia, particularly
the hostage situation in Budennovsk, influenced the outcome of
the vote.  Yeltsin declared his support for the government and is
not expected to take any action.  However, if the Duma passes a
second no-confidence vote, Yeltsin will be forced to either sack
the government or disband the parliament.  (OMRI, June 22, 1995).

20 June 1995:

-A US delegation will visit Russia at the end of June to discuss
privatizing Russian agriculture and increasing US farm exports to
Russia.  Vice-President Al Gore and Agriculture Secretary Dan
Glickman will be among the dignitaries taking part in the
discussions.  (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central Inc., Reuter
Textline, Lloyds of London Press, June 20, 1995).

16 June 1995:

-Severe drought conditions in central Russia threaten to damage
grain production and livestock feed.  The hot, dry weather began
in the second half of May and is expected to continue for some
time.  Sergei Bystrov, a member of the Agrarian Party
parliamentary faction, said farmers are losing as much as 30 tons
of grain a day in the Stavropol region, which is one of Russia's
largest grain-growing regions.  According to Itar-Tass, a Russian
agriculture ministry letter put the expected 1995 harvest yield
at 75 million tons, down from a previous estimate of 80-82
million tons.  The Agrarian Union farm lobby is forecasting as
little as 65-70 million tons.  (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data
Central, Inc., Reuters Limited, June 16, 1995).

-The Russian Agriculture Ministry is predicting a much lower
grain crop in 1995.  The Ministry expects grain production to
equal no more than 75 million tons, a 6.3 million ton decrease
from last year's figures.  Only 13.2 million hectares or 32.6
million acres of winter grain crops were planted this year,
nearly 400,000 hectares or 988,400 acres less than last year.  In
addition, the total area planted in potatoes decreased by 95,000
hectares or 234,700 acres.  Russian farmers fulfilled 90 percent
of the targeted spring planting and planted less corn, buckwheat
and rice in general, compared with the previous year.
(Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., Reuter Textline
Novecon, June 16, 1995).

14 June 1995:

-Health officials announced an acute increase in intestinal
diseases, such as dysentery, in Moscow, and blamed the onslaught
of disease on declining sanitary conditions and a heat wave that
has swept the area.  The chief sanitary inspector, Olga Aksenova,
identified "insanitary conditions in the street and the sale of
foodstuffs by street vendors" as the major culprits.  Two people
in Moscow have also been diagnosed with cholera, which puts the
city at risk of being hit by an epidemic.  (OMRI, June 14, 1995).

-Raisa Pankova, a department head in the Russian State Trade
Committee, told the Federation Council Agrarian Policy Committee
that Russia's farm sector would not be able to provide enough
food for the country in 1995.  Pankova said Russia's output in
meat products would fall short by 400,000 tons, 80,000 tons in
butter, and at least 1 million tons in sugar.  Pankova said she
supports food import tax hikes only during times when Russian
producers can fulfill market demands.  (OMRI, June 14, 1995).

9 June 1995:

-At a news conference attended by leaders of the Agrarian Party,
the president of the Party, Mikhail Lapshin, noted that Russian
farmers identify more closely with the Agrarian Party and the
Communists who champion the interests of the peasants.  He said
farmers see Chernomyrdin's bloc, "Our Home is Russia," as a party
of the "bosses" and oppose its commitment to distributing land
through auctions.  Lapshin predicted that farmers would not
respond favorably this time to the appeals of Vladimir
Zhirinovsky and his Liberal Democratic Party.  (Nexis/Lexis
through Mead Data Central, Inc., Official Kremlin Int'l News
Broadcast, June 9, 1995).

9-16 June 1995:

-Economics Minister Yevgeny Yasin said Russians will not notice
the food import tariff increase scheduled to take effect July 1.
Yasin noted the average tariff would only increase from 9% to
13%.  He disagreed with Moscow Mayor Yuri Lyuzhkov who predicted
tariff hikes would cause food prices in Moscow to increase
dramatically.  Yasin said the figures drawn up by the Moscow city
government were "incorrect and ungrounded."  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, issue 24, June 9-16, 1995, p. 3).

-Russian farmers have not received the designated amount of
fertilizer for this year's spring crops, and they still face
serious shortages of fuels and lubricants.  Farmers have received
95% of the targeted amounts of pesticides and have used them
effectively to combat the large, hot-weather buildups of locusts
in the Volgograd, Astrakhan, and Rostov regions and in Kalmykia.
Many farmers in the Northern Caucasus and on the Lower Volga
River have already begun to lay in hay and feeds, but some are
being held back by feed-harvesting machinery in poor repair.
Only 50%-60% of Russia's machinery was in working repair as of
June 1.  Officials estimate a cost of 3 trillion rubles to fix
the machinery.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV,
issue 24, June 9-16, 1995, p. 6).

6 June 1995:

-According to an article in Izvestiya, May retail prices in
Russia increased 7.9%.  Food items were up 8.8%, consumer goods
5.6%, and consumer services 11.1% from the previous month,
Retail prices have increased 67% during the first five months of
this year.  (OMRI, June 6, 1995).


AREAS OF INTEREST

ALBANIA

22 June 1995:

-13 villagers have been arrested who took the mayor of their
village and an Agriculture Ministry official hostage over a land
feud.  About 30 peasants initiated a hunger strike in Laknas, 13
kilometers northwest of Tirana, to protest the privatization of a
former state farm where they had worked for years.  The peasants
claimed they had been cheated out of their land.  Interior
Ministry officials took a tough stance, calling the peasants
"terrorists" and arresting those responsible for the kidnapping.
(OMRI, June 22, 1995).


POLAND

7 June 1995:

-The Polish government won support for anti-inflationary measures
allowing for the liberalization of food imports, more government
intervention in the food market, tighter wage and price controls,
and stricter budgetary discipline.  Polish Finance Minister
Grzegorz Kolodko also urged the Polish National Bank to slow down
the monthly devaluation of the zloty against a basket of hard
currencies.  (OMRI, June 7, 1995).


BELARUS

9-16 June 1995:

-Belarus's chemical plants and major exporters of fertilizers
report a 13.4 percent increase in production from the same period
last year, worth an estimated $433 million.  The massive
agrichemical plants are capable of providing Belarus farmers with
all the nitrogenous fertilizer the farmers need, but Belarus
farmers cannot afford to buy the locally made fertilizer.  Hence,
the plants have been forced to concentrate on exports.  Belarus
shipped 3.202 million tons of potash fertilizer, worth $220
million to countries outside the former Soviet Union last year.
It also shipped 120,000 tons to Russia and 29,000 tons to
Ukraine.  Domestic consumption of potash fertilizer amounted to
only 252,000 tons.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol
IV, issue 24, June 9-16, 1995, p. 4).