A report that Russia intended to impose quotas on the import of several food products was quickly squelched July 16 by Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and foreign trade minister Oleg Davydov. The original announcement, made by Russian deputy prime minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha, came during trade talks between Chernomyrdin and U.S. vice president Al Gore. It momentarily raised the specter of a trade dispute like the war of words that occurred in February over Moscow’s stated intention to limit U.S. poultry imports. Zaveryukha said yesterday that chicken legs, along with dairy and meat products, sugar and vegetable oil would be subject to quotas.
Although Chernomyrdin flatly nixed the notion — and the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission’s Agribusiness Committee issued a statement saying that the previous problems in U.S. poultry deliveries to Russia had been resolved — Zaveryukha’s statements may have reflected a broader struggle taking place in the Kremlin. (Reuter, Itar-Tass, July 16) Russia’s agricultural lobby has long protested the growing weight of food imports in the Russian marketplace, and tensions within the government on the issue of import restrictions are nothing new. But the agricultural lobby may now believe that it has a new ally in the Kremlin. During a speech on July 2 Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed lashed out at the influx of foreign foods into Russia, and described it as having reached the level of "food aggression." In drafting a concept of Russian national security with a strong emphasis on economic issues, Lebed has spoken more broadly of ensuring protection for Russian domestic producers.
No Evidence of Communist Paramilitaries.