A number of warnings were heard yesterday about the possibility of civil disturbances in various parts of Russia if the present turmoil continues. A senior Russian official–acting head of the government staff, Igor Shabdurasulov–appeared on television to reassure people that there is no danger of food shortages. (RTR, September 8) However, panic buying has been reported in many cities and several regional governors have announced plans to fix prices on staple goods. The governor of Kaliningrad Oblast has declared a state of emergency–a right that belongs, technically, only to the Russian president. Krasnoyarsk Krai’s Aleksandr Lebed announced that he was taking unspecified measures to ward off “anarchy” and “famine” in his region. The governor of Stavropol Krai announced a series of autumn fairs at which staple foods will be sold directly to local residents, bypassing middlemen and thereby cutting overhead and preventing inflationary prices. Governors in other regions tried to prevent the export of foodstuffs from their territory, while others made provisional plans for local surrogate currencies and food coupons.
So far, most empty shelves are caused by panic buying. The Monitor’s correspondent in Tatarstan, however, tells us that prices in Tatarstan itself have gone up two or three times, leaving people unable to even afford panic buying. Prices have thus have been allowed to find their own level, and shortages are not yet a major problem. In other regions governors are trying to restrain prices by administrative means, which is only aggravating the situation. (NTV, September 8)
G-7 MEETING ON RUSSIA MAY BE POSTPONED.