RUSAG-L: Current Events #62

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.


5 August 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4415 per
dollar.  (The Washington Post, August 5, 1995)

4 August 1995:

-The Moscow government released a statement saying the recent
move to increase custom tariffs was a deliberate effort to create
a crisis in the city before the new elections.  The Moscow
government media release did not name culprits, but sources
suspect Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov may be the target, since some
Muscovites may blame Luzhkov if conditions deteriorate.
(Jamestown Monitor, August 4, 1995).

-Moscow's hold on the Russian provinces is becoming increasingly
suspect.  In Krasnodar kray, officials recently announced they
would suspend Moscow's decree in their region, which gives Moscow
control over licensing the production and distribution of
alcoholic beverages.  Krasnodar officials claim the decree, if
implemented, would push the local wine industry into bankruptcy.
(Jamestown Monitor, August 4, 1995)

-The Russian government approved a new budget for 1996, but has
not yet released it to the Duma for consideration.  The budget is
based on an optimistic assessment of inflation, which, while it
has fallen, still remains locked at a monthly rate of 5 percent.
The new budget is based on a monthly rate of 1.2 percent.
Experts predict the inflation rate will rise substantially during
the fall, as the agricultural and consumer sectors' demand for
cash place more pressure on the budget.  In addition, the up-
coming elections will also affect the budget as parties seek to
make points with the electorate by promising more monetary
support.  (Jamestown Monitor, August 4, 1995)

-For the second time this year, mercury spilled into the
Severnaya Dvina River.  The chemical was traced to the paper and
pulp complex in Arkhangelsk.  Residents were not aware of the
mercury contend until after five days of drinking and bathing in
the water.  A commission created by the Ministry of Environment
and Natural Resources to investigate the accident declared the
water safe to drink, but their report was immediately challenged
by a group of academics, who doubted the credibility of the
commission's report.  (OMRI, August 4, 1995)

-Roseksportles, Russia's leading supplier of wood and timber, has
launched a program to secure medium and long-term investments
from Russian and foreign banks.  The joint-stock company plans to
raise $1.5 billion.  The director of Roseksportles, Valerii
Kaikaev, said the company's turnover was approximately $230
million dollars during the first half of 1995.  He predicted
turnover would hit $550-$600 million by the end of the year.
(OMRI, August 4, 1995)

3 August 1995:

-Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov continues to criticize the recent
import taxes on food.  He told Ostankino television that Moscow's
food reserves were 10 to 15 percent lower than they were at this
time last year.  Moscow's Echo radio reported that food was not
reaching the city because officials would not allow trucks
carrying food to enter the city without proper papers.  In an
attempt to remedy the situation, Luzhkov has asked Belarus to
supply food to the city.  (Jamestown Monitor, August 3, 1995)

2 August 1995:

-The Russian Duma passed a bill during the last session which
would give control over the pace and direction of future
privatization to the regions and parliament.  (Jamestown Monitor,
August 2, 1995)

1 August 1995:

-Agrarian Party leader, Mikhail Lapshin, said the Communists,
trade unionists, and industrialists remained the natural allies
of the Agrarians.  Lapshin refused to join Duma Speaker Ivan
Rybkin's new left-center alliance, which has close ties to
Yeltsin.  Rybkin was elected on the Agrarian Party label in the
last parliamentary elections.  (OMRI, August 1, 1995)

21-28 July, 1995:

-The Russian government passed a resolution allocating 6 trillion
rubles to the agricultural sector to help alleviate the
consequences of this year's drought.  The resolution assigns 400
billion rubles for harvesting equipment and spare parts for
farmers and gives farmers 25 billion rubles from an insurance
fund in the third quarter of 1995.  In addition, the document
calls for previous agricultural funds to be allocated quickly to
pay for the new harvest and recommends that regional governments
support agriculture by mobilizing all resources for the harvest.
The government wants the regions to lift restrictions on the
transport of agriculture products and plans to introduce
sanctions against regions that do not comply.  The resolution is
expected to soften the blow of this year's drought, which
affected 24 million hectares of the 102 million hectares sown
this summer.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV,
Issue 30, July 21-28, 1995, p. 2)

-Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Zaveryukha, said
Russia could fulfill its grain requirements and would not import
food despite this year's drought.  This year's harvest is
expected to yield 75 million-78 million tons of grain, including
30 million-32 million tons of food wheat.  Zaveryukha also noted
that the government would not regulate grain prices.  The market
price of grain will be 700,000-800,000 rubles per ton, compared
with 400,000-500,000 per ton earlier this year.  (Interfax Food
and Agricultural Report, Vol IV, Issue 30, July 21-28, 1995, p.
3).

-Professor Vasily Uzun, head scientist of the Agrarian Institute
of the Russian Academy of Agriculture Sciences and author of
Russia's well-known Nizhny Novgorod model of agricultural
privatization, said agrarian reform in Russia would take at least
another 20 to 30 thirty years to complete.  He blamed the
problems of reform on inadequate Russian legislation and the
unwillingness of new private farms to take on the heavy burden of
responsibility for the social welfare of farmers.  Uzun also
argued that the current conservative land code would not activate
farmers' initiative and farm reform but preserve the current
situation.  He said the draft land code could be considered an
attempt to reverse all that has been achieved over the past five
years.  Lastly, Uzun said most farmers had been inactive over the
past five years and ultimately placed the responsibility of
successful reform on Russian farmers. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, VOL IV, Issue 30, July 21-28, 1995, p. 7).


AREAS OF INTEREST

MOLDOVA

4 August 1995:

-A fifteen year-old boy was killed and a woman badly beaten after
stealing potatoes in the breakaway region of Transdniester.
Villagers tied a bag of potatoes around the teenagers neck and
threw him into a canal.  The woman was badly beaten, tied to a
pole, and paraded through the village.  The Dneister region has
been experiencing serious food shortages.  Staples, such as
bread, is a luxury in the Dneister region where the average
salary is between $5 and $10 per month.  (OMRI, August 4, 1995)


EASTERN EUROPE

26 July 1995:

-According to the European Commission, Eastern Europe's
agriculture poses no threat to the European Community, which has
experienced a trade surplus in agriculture since 1992.  The
Commission said Eastern Europe's food industry was so inefficient
that it could not meet demands for quality, variety, and general
marketing of products.  Commissioner Franz Fischler said the
difficulties in Eastern agriculture reflect structural problems
that will take decades to correct.  (OMRI, July 26, 1005)


ROMANIA

2 August 1995:

-Romania's main opposition parties met to discuss the
government's agricultural policy.  Most specifically, the parties
discussed the government's ability to buy this year's wheat
harvest, which totals more than 7 million tons.  Party members
were also critical of the fact that the state-owned Romcereal
company retains a monopoly on the purchases of wheat in Romania.
They also plan to ask the Romanian Parliament to pass a law
supporting agriculture.  (OMRI, August 2, 1995)


BELARUS

31 July, 1995:

-Belarus continues to have problems with its efforts to privatize
state agricultural enterprises.  It has been unable to privatize
the 77 state and 606 communal enterprises in agriculture and food
production slated for this year.  The Belarus government cited
the problems as "unspecified."  (OMRI, July 31, 1995)