MOSCOW, January 22 (RIA Novosti)
Medvedev’s Government and Its Real Purpose
The Russian Government lacks the political power to be efficient.
With some governments, it is well known they are only temporary. Dmitry Medvedev’s government looks like it may become ‘temporary’ for quite some time. While it does not have enough political power to carry out the reforms proposed by the president, Putin has no real reason to dismiss it.
There has been a lot of criticism lately – and not only of the ministers behind the unpopular social reforms. We remember very well how last year Putin dragged three ministers over the coals. The Kremlin has been expressing its dissatisfaction with the government lately. Even the State Duma is turning a blind eye to the government's evaluation of bills. Most tellingly, Herman Gref and Anatoly Chubais, both former deputy prime ministers, openly laughed at the incompetence of current ministers at the recent Gaidar Forum.
Such an attitude toward the government could mean one of two things. Either everyone knows its days are numbered or it is a “whipping boy.”
During his years as a top official, Dmitry Medvedev gained a reputation for someone who does not slam doors. Commenting on a recent Izvestia article, he mentioned that it is the president’s sole prerogative to evaluate the efficiency of the government and its ministers.
In fact, the efficiency of a government can be evaluated by any of its direct customers. It is true, however, that the government is only accountable to the president.
The president’s duty is to allocate responsibility wisely. By criticizing ministers, he usually sets the positive, such as a better tomorrow, beautifully depicted in decrees, against the negative, such as the consequences of government decisions. This is a dead end for any development policy.
The president should act as the instigator of complex unpopular reforms, which means he gives the competent executives time and shields them from political criticism. By doing so, he will have to take responsibility. Why would he want to do that?
The education and healthcare reforms are progressing slowly. But they were not started by the current cabinet. There is no guarantee its opinion will be heard and that it will have the opportunity to see the reforms through. This reduces the likelihood of attracting the most capable experts.
The influence of Putin’s current government is even lower than that of previous governments. Mikhail Fradkov, for instance, was also seen by many as a “technical” prime minister but there were such heavyweight politicians in his government as Alexei Kudrin and Herman Gref. Even Putin could patiently wait for the talks in the government to lead somewhere.
Now there is no time for talking. Times are tough and Putin is not getting any younger. His first decrees were accepted as axiomatic statements that allowed no compromise. These decrees must be carried out by loyal though not necessarily competent people. They may fail, but is that any reason for sacking them?
New Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu Cuts Paperwork
On Monday Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reinstated the right of generals to award military ranks, appoint or fire subordinates and determine their responsibilities, something that should make his own job easier.
Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov announced the news during a conference call. “The new regulations revise the powers of military officials with regard to awarding ranks, appointing their subordinates and dismissing them, accepting their resignations and sending them on business trips,” he said. Anatoly Serdyukov attended to these issues personally as minister.
From this point on, military officials will be authorized to award their subordinates military ranks up to lieutenant colonel, while higher ranks will remain within the minister’s sphere of competence. The minister’s draft order will be submitted to the president for approval.
The new regulations are in fact similar to those established by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in December 2004. Serdyukov issued an order on October 5, 2011 making it mandatory to submit all draft personnel orders for his signature.
According to information received by Kommersant, that procedure was proposed by former Chief of the General Staff Nikolai Makarov. “Serdyukov just signed the orders de jure, while it was Makarov who controlled all the personnel decisions,” a General Staff source said. This practice significantly slowed paperwork in the ministry, he added. “Officers had to wait for months to retire, until the minister signed the papers,” a ministry employee said. “He had to sign hundreds of documents every day.” Among other things, he had to sign the resignations of officers serving under contracts. In this way the new rules have relieved the ministry from hours of bureaucracy.
At the same time, Gerasimov stressed the need to avoid abuse of office when dealing with personnel issues. Several sources recognize that the broader authority to appoint and dismiss could breed nepotism, but they add that personnel decisions will still be monitored by authorized officials.
Gerasimov also said Shoigu has approved the priority plan for the development and improvement of military towns in 2013-2014 and a long-term plan until 2017.
“The plan is to upgrade over 490 military towns across Russia, including 50 this year,” he said. “This year we will build or modernize 104 military barracks, 36 canteens, 21 headquarters buildings, 32 training buildings and 18 medical offices – a total of 550 facilities. The total costs of these improvements will come to over 46 billion rubles,” he concluded.
Pussy Riot Ex-attorneys File Defamation Suit
Former defense lawyers for the Pussy Riot punk band Violetta Volkova, Mark Feigin and Nikolai Polozov, have filed a defamation of character lawsuit with the Tverskoi District Court against Kommersant and one of the convicted women’s current attorneys, Irina Khrunova.
The dispute has been sparked by a number of Kommersant articles, one of which quotes Khrunova as saying that Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina will not be able to appeal their unlawful detention due to their former defense lawyers having made an incorrect appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
“This publication contains a number of falsehoods and does so in a most deceitful and humiliating manner,” claims Feigin. “If there had been only one article we would have ignored it. But the newspaper published several such pieces. We see it as an attempt to damage our reputation.”
The lawyer adds that he has been writing to Kommersant editor-in-chief suggesting they discuss the issue but has not received a reply. Feigin also believes these articles were planted deliberately, which prompted him to demand higher compensation.
“These people didn’t bother to verify the facts,” Feigin continues. “For example, one of the articles states that we did not file an extended appeal with the European Court, which we did. We have a copy of this appeal. We will hold them accountable for this lie.”
The lawsuit is demanding that Kommersant pay 500,000 rubles to each of the plaintiffs.
The first hearing is expected to take place within the next month.
RIA Novosti is not responsible for the content of outside sources.
Add to blog
You may place this material on your blog by copying the link.
The current contract portfolio of Russian arms exporters is worth about $46 billion. Annual exports total $15 billion, and this will ensure uninterrupted deliveries for the next three years, even in the worst-case scenario. The list of the main buyers of Russian weapons is unlikely to change drastically.