The Russian Agriculture Ministry announced on September 15 that, as a result of this summer’s unprecedented drought and heat wave, Russia’s 1998 grain crop will be only two-thirds of last year’s. Last year, Russia harvested a bumper 88.5 million tons of grain. This year’s figure is not expected to exceed 56 million tons. The ministry said this will be the lowest figure since 1957, when only 54.9 million tons of grain were harvested. It said freak weather conditions were not the only culprit: Also to blame are shortages of machinery and fuel. Production of potatoes and other vegetables, other than sunflowers, is also down (Russian agencies, September 15).
Anatoly Chubais, chairman of Russia’s electricity giant Unified Energy Systems, warned yesterday that the coming winter could be “very difficult” if, as forecasters are predicting, it turns out to be even colder than usual. In that case, Chubais said, energy shortages will become the country’s main problem (Russian agencies, September 17).
RUSSIAN HEALTH CRISIS THREATENS TO SPREAD.