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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grain Sale Funds To Aid Poor Here

Money raised through the sale of $122 million in agricultural commodities donated by the United States will go to Russia's needy citizens and farmers under a plan outlined Thursday by a Russian official.

Alexander Zhitnikov, first deputy chairman of the Russian Commission for International Humanitarian and Technical Assistance, said that the program -- the first of its kind to be implemented here -- would auction 817, 000 tons of corn, wheat and rice in Russia's emerging free-market commodities exchanges and then transfer the proceeds to social services and programs promoting agricultural reform.

"The main goal is to raise money as fast as possible for social protection", Zhitnikov said.

His commission had not yet chosen the beneficiaries, he said.

The aid package is based on an October 1992 agreement under which the United States agreed to ship 87, 000 tons of rice, 210, 000 tons of corn and 520, 000 tons of wheat to Russia by July, 1993, according to a spokesman of the Moscow office of the U. S. Department of Agriculture.

The grain -- the first shipment of which is expected by May 7 -- is free, and the U. S. government is paying all of the freight expenses, the spokesman said.

Funds will be dispersed directly to organizations that assist the elderly, veterans, needy children and the disabled as well as to groups offering educational programs that promote agricultural reform, Pavel Kaminsky, deputy minister of labor and social welfare, said on Thursday.

He said a team of officials from the ministries of labor, health and agriculture will decide who gets the proceeds.

"One-hundred percent of the money generated from the sale of this grain will go to those who need it",

Kaminsky said. "There will be no middleman. The money will be transferred from the commission's account directly to the accounts of those organizations" selected by the team.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture official said that the U. S. government has conducted similar programs in other countries. The grain shipments are a combination of stockpiles and grain purchased from the American market, the U. S. official said.

Zhitnikov, of the Russian humanitarian aid commission, said the Russian government had recently sold about 5 billion rubles worth of U. S. corn to Russian entrepreneurs and joint-stock companies at an auction in Saratov.