Top news Ural Federal District: Fair Russia, Yugra
Regional media and experts made their own conclusions regarding events in Moscow – the President’s press conference and dismissal of Sergey Ivanov. Meanwhile, coming summer is bringing much more forest fires than last year. Yugra’s government is reviewing the possibility to cancel tax benefits for oil producers. Learn more in weekly expert report by FederalPress.Regional media and experts made their own conclusions regarding events in Moscow – the President’s press conference and dismissal of Sergey Ivanov. Meanwhile, coming summer is bringing much more forest fires than last year. Yugra’s government is reviewing the possibility to cancel tax benefits for oil producers. Learn more in weekly expert report by FederalPress.
Press Conference by the President
Ural District anxiously followed the President talking at the largest press conference in the past three years on May 18 in Skolkovo School of Management, Moscow. He did not respond the most acute question about his decision to participate in the next elections. However, Dmitry Medvedev covered a number of other burning issues.
He mentioned that general elections of regional governor might be reestablished in the future. Cabinet of ministers might soon be changed to a large extend. He also commented on cooperation with the United States in regard to ballistic missile defense and promised to grow the number of nuclear weapons of the Russian army if no agreement is made. The President also spoke about gasoline and technical inspections of vehicles, as well as elaborating mechanisms of increasing Internet security.
Evgeny Minchenko, International Institute for Political Expertise Director, evaluated stability of the ruling tandem. “Medvedev positions himself not for voters, but for the elites. The President creates an image of a moderate, adequate and able to negotiate politician. There is sense for business elites to support such a candidate at the coming elections, because they need a person who is able to preserve sustainability, viability of the existing system”, the expert explains.
Evgeny Minchenko also thinks that there are no relations between Mr. Putin and Mr. Medvedev, there are relations inside the elites instead. Whoever is best at providing stability for the existing system has favorable chances to win the elections.
Council of Federation
Speaker of the Council of Federation and the head of Fair Russia Sergey Mironov lost his title of senator and consequentially his job at the Council of Federation. Dmitry Medvedev expects Sergey Mironov to get more involved into his political party’s activities. Chairman of the State Duma Boris Gryzlov also sees nothing bad for Sergey Mironov’s political career.
Political scientist Aleksey Shvaigert considers Sergey Mironov’s dismissal nothing more but a pre-election experiment.
People’s Front, The Right Cause and recalling chairman of the Council of Federation are preliminary pre-elections games, the expert thinks. He also agrees with other experts about unclear future of the Fair Russia party. It can either become the main opposition, or be knocked out of the political play. It is yet too early to make any prognoses.
Chairman of the regional division of Fair Russia in Khanty-Mansiysk Mikhail Serdyuk sees no problem in his leader’s dismissal from the Council of Federation. Leaving work in the Council of Federation Sergey Mironov will be able to spend more time for the party’s work.
“Popularity of Fair Russia in the regions does not depend on the federal dismissals or appointments. People judge solely by the deeds of local party representatives and if our actions are beneficial for the district, then the voters’ trust to us will not be shaken”.
The number of forest fires in Sverdlovsk Region seriously increased, while in Khanty-Mansiysk District fire spots exceeded all expected figures. Prognosis for 2011 in the Urals assumes there will be more fires than average and more than in 2010.
Federal highway R-404 connecting Khanty-Mansiysk and Tyumen has been shut down for traffic because of the forest fires crossing it. All regions increased the number of fire-fighters and equipment by several times and expect to use more aircrafts this year.
Chairman of “Council 101” NGO Dmitry Golovin however thinks that local authorities do not pay enough attention to the problem. “New wave of fires has once again demonstrated incapability and unwillingness of the authorities to solve some problems… Fires take place in Russia yearly, much has been said about precaution measures, but again and again these measures prove to be ineffective. The money allotted is used inefficiently. We’ve got an impression that the state prefers to do nothing, relying on sheer luck”.
Yugra’s oil industry
Yugra’s government is reviewing draft law on changing tax benefits for the oil companies in the District. It is planned that 4 percent benefit in taxes will be cancelled in 2012 for most of the companies. Some of the experts say it will undermine the industry’s stability. Small companies may not be able to survive, large companies may reject financing social projects. Yugra’s governor Natalia Komarova supported creating a working group of state officials and oil business representatives to look for a compromise.
Yugra’s District Duma deputy Vladimir Sysoev talked to FederalPress about difficulties of introducing innovations in case the law is adopted. The volume of oil produced in 2010 made 226 million tons which is 1.7 percent less than in 2009. Oil production volumes have been reducing since 2003, so this figure is no revelation. Investment attractiveness of the region is falling. The volume of foreign investments made less than 100 million dollars last year.
“This law is beneficial for the large companies and is another step in monopolizing the industry. At the same time, large companies are not interested in innovations, at least, at this stage”, the deputy said.
Another oil pipeline
Governors of Yugra and Yamal officially opened the first stage of the pipeline “Polar Region - Samotlor” last week. The opened line connects Purpe and Samotlor. The project will be completed in 2015. Opening ceremony gathered Natalia Komarova of Yugra, Dmitry Kobylkin of Yamal, Vice Prime Minister Igor Sechin, Plenipotentiary Nikolai Vinnichenko and Transneft’s President Nikolai Tokarev.
The project costs 50 billion rubles. It will increase oil production by 50 million tons a year and allow for transportation costs reduction. The first stage of the oil pipeline will be tested and launched into industrial exploitation by the end of this year.
Oleg Klementiev, leader of Yamal’s regional division of the Communist party, spoke about social benefits of such projects. He noticed, many jobs including highly qualified positions are being created. On the other hand, construction in the polar areas interferes with the lifestyle of the indigenous peoples of the north and they start losing their natural roots.