GOVERNMENT IS SHORT OF MONEY FOR GRAIN PURCHASES

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GOVERNMENT IS SHORT OF MONEY FOR GRAIN PURCHASES

Izvestia, September 20, 2002, p. 2, EV

The Cabinet has discussed results of the development in the Russian agricultural sector, and measures aimed at stabilizing the grain market; in other words, intervening in the market. Speaking to the media, however, Agriculture Minister Gordeyev said that the proposed scheme of intervention would be improved. To implement it, the Cabinet is to propose amendments both for the 2002 budget and the 2003 draft budget in order that the interventions could actually work.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the aggregate growth of agricultural production since 1998 was 22%. This year, growth of 2% more is expected. Food production is profitable in Russia. Profitability of the farming industry is 9.5%, whereas the profitability of the food and food processing industries is 18%. In the meantime, the rise in the volume of output (which is most apparent in the grain farming) has already caused many problems. Through the entire period of harvest time, the farmers and the grain traders and the Ministry of Agriculture have been awaiting the harvest results with fear. The forecasts were sweepingly changing. By the harvest time, the planned figure of 73 million tons of grain rose to 85-87 million tons. The experts added the carry-over stock to this figure and were saying that the country would eventually have over 100 million tons of grain.

The state should have empowered the Federal Food Agency to control over the course of interventions and the Savings Bank should have allocated funding so that grain traders could purchase grain. The grain should have been supplied to grain elevators.

This mechanism didn’t suit the traders. We have a copy of a letter from the Grain Union to the minister, on the subject of grain purchases. The grain traders said that the purchases for the intervention fund should have been made at the exchange, and for this very reason the offerers should have been given the right to choose between grain elevators for grain storage. According to grain traders, the grain should be insured to ensure the grain safety, which also requires finance. The traders also pointed out that the current rates for services of elevators doesn’t afford using qualitative granaries and propose to raise the rates from 30 to 45 rubles per a ton. A the same time, the grain traders assure that the loan extended by the Savings Bank doesn’t include the spending on storage.

OLEG KISELEV BECOMES DIRECTOR GENERAL OF TVS

Izvestia, September 20, 2002, p. 2, EV

Management of the sixth TV channel has changed. The company’s shareholders have elected a new director general – Oleg Kiselev. He has replaced Alexander Levin, who will remain at TVS as senior deputy director. The journalists haven’t supported Viktor Shenderovich’s appeal to quit if the management is changed. More likely that investors, 12 of them now, rather than journalists will quit. Oleg Kiselev’s election means that the influence of shareholders close to CEO of RJES Anatoly Chubais on the company has increased.

Yevgeny Kiselev, who has represented the staff of journalists at the meeting of the board of directors has abstained, the same like Alexander Abramov.

Yuri Shefler, who is on the wanted list, hasn’t arrived on the meeting. Despite Alexander Mamut’s intention to lobby Grigory Krichevsky for the position of TVS’ CEO, his candidacy hasn’t even been discussed.

“The creative staff of TVS has negatively treated the replacement of Alexander Levin for Oleg Kiselev. The size of emotions as regards this was the only difference,” Viktor Shenderovich said.

DO YOU NEED NATO?

Izvestia, September 20, 2002, p. 6 EV

The Russia-NATO: “from the image of enemy” to “the image of partner” and real partnership” international forum opened yesterday in Moscow. At the forum, the Russian and Western politicians, military and scientists are trying to squeeze an aged, but still lively organization within the new political life.

In compliance with the results of the poll done by the VTsIOM, attitudes toward NATO are not actually changing in Russia: 56% of respondents think Russia has reasons to be wary of NATO member states.

“Russia has always had problems with human rights, but it is hard for Russia to imagine that NATO would be dealing with this problem,” Vladimir Zakharov, a spokesperson for Russian Institute of Strategic Research said.

Vladimir Baranovsky, Deputy Director of the Global Economy and International Relations Institute, objected: “After the end of the Cold War, the idea of abolishing NATO was also expressed in the West. However, there are some tasks which the bloc can and should resolve.” He ended his statement on the same note: “NATO turned out to be unnecessary after September 11.”

FOURTH ATTEMPT SUCCESSFUL

Trud, September 20, 2002, EV

In the course of the first reading, the Duma has approved the bill on amending the constitutional law on the referendum.

In compliance with the law, deputies of six parliamentary coalitions – Unity, Fatherland – All Russia, URF, Yabloko, People’s Deputy and Russian Regions – are proposing to limit opportunities to hold referendums in Russia. As is known, the communists intend to collect signatures in favor of a referendum on a series of populist issues. The left wing and the radical right wing tried to deny discussion of the legislative initiative “on banning the referendum,” but fruitless.

Vyacheslav Volodin, leader of the Fatherland – All Russia faction, who is among authors of the bill, told Trud: “We support the initiative to declare a ban on referendums covering political self-promotion in the year before the parliamentary elections. Referendums should be held within the first three years after elections, and it is more advisable to devote the pre-election year to productive work on laws and relatively calm preparations for the election campaign. This would become the best advertisement for the current political forces and do good for the entire country.” According to Volodin, the cost of a referendum is 4 billion rubles, which “is a huge sum of money to waste.”

Quite naturally, the leftist have a different opinion. Nikolai Kolomeitsev, a member of the CPRF faction, said that banning referendums in the year before parliamentary ad presidential elections is an “unprecedented mockery of the Constitution of Russia.” Needless to say, many are longing to use the country as a large platform for publicity.

WHAT THE BULGARIAN PRESIDENT COULD OFFER

Parlamentskaya Gazeta, September 20, 2002, p. 2

Yesterday, Bulgarian President Georgi Pyrvanov arrived in Moscow on a working visit and set out for Sochi to hold closed-door talks with President Vladimir Putin.

On the weekend, broader talks will be held. The visit is definitely a business visit: not only government members and deputies, but also representatives of the regions and leading Bulgarian companies accompany the president.

Along with discussion of bilateral agreements, international cooperation between the two states, especially that on the Balkans, great significance is assigned on the economic cooperation. Bulgaria is alarmed at the unfavorable balance of trade with Russia (last year, importation amounted to $1.5 billion and exceeded the exportation). As before, Bulgaria receives energy resources and raw materials from Russia and has insufficient quantity of competitive commodities for exports. Judging by some statements, Russia will be offered to participate in tenders for privatization of some objects of the Bulgarian fuel and energy complex and transport infrastructure, which could be used more intensively to pump the Russian oil and gas to the adjacent states.

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