Russia’s Breath-taking Harvest Volumes

What are the aims of Russian Agriculture Minister Gordeyev?

A psychological phenomenon called “giddiness of success” is widely popular in Russia. If some man proves a success in something, he immediately puts on airs; if the man is a high ranking official or a boss, the “giddiness epidemic” also grips his subordinates: they start considering that the boss is the lord and the master.

Yesterday the secretariat of Russian vice-premier and agriculture minister Alexey Gordeyev informed the Russian mass media of the large-scale plans of the vice-premier. The Russian agriculture minister says that export of Russian grains may increase almost three times to 12-14 million tons in 2002-2003. As the secretariat reports, Russia’s present-day export of grains makes up about 5 million tons. Taking the record volume of the harvest this year into consideration, Russia decided to increase the volumes of its export.

On the whole, there is nothing frightful about these plans yet. However, it is not clear how big the harvest will be next year. It is not ruled out that there will be a poor wheat crop next year, and Russia will need the grains it is currently going to export. But as it turned out, Russian officials, especially those from the RF Agriculture Ministry, think little about such things. First of all, it may happen that the minister himself will be replaced next year. Or personnel of the secretariat will chance to leave the government for some foreign foundation established especially for propaganda of western methods of farming in Russia. So, it is no use for Russian officials to think far ahead. It’s no good for their career and for their health as well.

The secretariat of the RF agriculture minister proudly reports that Italy, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco are currently the key purchasers of the Russian grain. According to the strategies developed by the Russian Agriculture Ministry, export of Russian grains to Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be considerably increased next year. It is also reported that yesterday Agriculture Minister Alexey Gordeyev left for Egypt to negotiate increase of the Russian grain supplies to the Egyptian market.

Right before the departure, the minister told Russian mass media: “Our objective is to become the key supplier of grains to Egypt for many years; this will be easier because of the closeness of this market and the convenience of the transport routes.” In Gordeyev’s words, the RF Agriculture Ministry hopes that the great bulk of grains in Egypt is bought by the government. That is why Alexey Gordeyev believes that Egypt officials will rather reach agreement with Russian officials than capitalist suppliers from the USA, Australia and Canada. However, capitalists (but not officials from other countries) can grease the palms of officials responsible for grain purchases quite enough to decide the problem in their favor. It is very likely that Alexey Gordeyev concealed something from Russian journalists: in fact, he probably has something to offer to his colleagues from the banks of the Nile River. This is probably something that they won’t be able to resist.

While the Russian agriculture minister is negotiating grain supplies in Egypt, leader of Russia’s Agrarian Party, Mikhail Lapshin accused saboteur officials of an attempt to takeover the authority of the Russian Agrarian Party.

He explained his statement the following way. Recently, a session with participation of the RF Agriculture Ministry was held in the Russian city of Kaluga. The session issued a directive ordering to replace the leadership of Russia’s Agrarian Party, to amend its program and the Charter. Mikhail Lapshin says that officials in Russia’s Tambov and Orenburg regions make attempts to re-elected the leadership of the Agrarian Party. In connection with these facts, the Party is going to make complaints against Alexey Gordeyev to the RF Ministry of Justice. The Agrarian Party leader is perfectly sure that the interference into affairs of the Party was inspired by the agriculture minister and vice-premier of the government.

Mikhail Lapshin thinks that before the next presidential elections Vladimir Putin will obligatorily reshuffle the Cabinet and will pay special attention to Russia’s agrarian policy. And when the president looks deeper into Russia’s agriculture problems, he will immediately find out that the words about Russia’s tremendous harvests and the plans for expansion on the world markets shield the actual dramatic situation in Russian villages and at the farms. And the chairman of the Agrarian Party thinks that Alexey Gordeyev keeps the Party as a reserve for himself: when he will have to quit the post of Russia’s Minister of Agriculture, he will take the post of the Party’s leader and successfully pass elections to the State Duma.

As for the collapse of the agricultural policy in Russia and ruining of Russian villages, leader of the Agrarian Party Mikhail Lapshin blames the agriculture minister for these problems. He stresses that although the declared amount of grain harvest in Russia is 90 million tons this year, Russian farmers are in a desperate situation.

Kira Poznakhirko

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Author`s name Michael Simpson