Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 165

Governor Leonid Gorbenko of Kaliningrad Oblast yesterday denied press reports that he had declared a state of emergency in his region. Constitutionally, only the president has that power. Gorbenko said that he spoke only of the necessity for emergency economic measures to prepare the region for the winter. (Itar-Tass, September 8) The presidential representative in the region, Aleksandr Orlov, confirmed this, saying, “We’re not talking about a state of emergency, but of an emergency situation… in the country as a whole.” Orlov said Kaliningrad was in a doubly difficult situation “since [it is] cut off from Russia proper and [is] more dependent on changes in the dollar exchange rate and the rest of today’s crisis phenomena.” (ORT, September 8)

Leaders in other regions are being less punctilious. All over Russia, regional governments are ignoring Moscow as they scramble to find ways to prevent panic and keep their populations fed. The situation is aggravated by the fact that, because of the summer’s heatwave, grain stocks are lower than usual. The Monitor’s correspondent in Saratov Oblast reports that there are already shortages of several kinds of foodstuffs in the Volga region. The most acute are of sugar, sunflower oil and rice. These shortfalls can be made up only by imports, which will mean a significant increase in prices.

Krasnoyarsk Governor Aleksandr Lebed has announced a 10 percent cap on retail prices throughout his region. This order, he says, will be backed up by “administrative methods.” He has commanded the security forces to monitor food prices until the end of the year. This action, Lebed has admitted, puts him ” on the brink of violating the law.” (Itar-Tass, September 7) In Kemerovo Oblast, Governor Aman Tuleev has lowered the tax rate for local enterprises by 40 percent and cut electricity tariffs. He has also told his subordinates to make decisions without consulting the federal authorities because of the urgency of the situation. “Forget about Moscow,” Tuleev told them in a conference call yesterday. “What use are they today? You can write letters or send telegrams, but it seems the regions do not exist as far as the center is concerned.” (Itar-Tass, September 9)