From a speech by Russian President Boris Yeltsin before the Russian Congress of People's Deputies on Dec. 15:

A legal framework has been created for a new factor to appear in the agrarian sector -- a free peasant. He is becoming a key figure in revitalizing the Russian countryside... .

In those brief spells when the peasant received freedom he became a progressive social force, showing himself responsive to technological achievements and innovations. The so-called downtroddenness and ignorance disappeared, and peasants' farms and villages prospered. Shops were bulging with agricultural produce. There was a general upsurge of economic activity in the country... .

Our task is to give every assistance to the worker in the countryside to become a real master of his fate. Then he will organize his life so as to bring maximal benefit to society... .

Assistance will be given to state and collective farms and to all other agricultural enterprises that are profitable and capable of feeding Russia. We expect great results from the agricultural reform... .

At present the government of Russia is taking major steps to reverse the critical situation in the food market. It needs to be stressed that there is no need to talk about any imminent hunger in the direct sense of the word. The republic's food supplies, at least on seven major items out of nine, are at last year's level. Work is underway to conclude contracts with foreign countries on supplying to Russia all necessary foodstuffs. Just now we cannot solve the entire food problem. But we can and must stabilize the republic's food market, reduce panic-buying and improve general food supplies. And this is our priority task for the next several weeks.