Oil oligarchs not exposed in deal
Russia lives in protracted transition. Democracy seems to be transitional, too. Capitalism is also not true. Actually, the state and the government are far from perfect. What is being completely legally done in the US and in Western Europe on the world level cannot be done in Russia even on the regional level. For example, MicroSopft was considered to be a monopoly, so millions could not help Bill Gates. While in Russia, Stavropol office of Antimonopoly Policy Ministry has to close the case of YUKOS and LUKOIL: it cannot prove the fact of deal of these two companies.
June 6, 2002, deputies of Stavropol regional Duma sent to President Vladimir Putin their address. In the address they complained about a sudden and obviously not agreed increase of combustive-lubricating materials. The elected representatives of the people accused YUKOS and LUKOIL companies which are said to have monopolised combustive-lubricating materials supply to the region of the deal. According to the deputies, this one-time increase of diesel oil price from 4,600 rubles (approximately $ 148.4) to 7,300 rubles (approximately $ 235.5) for a ton will damage local agricultural producers, consumers of their product and, in general, will derange harvesting work. The regional Duma asked the President to block increase of combustive-lubricating materials prices.
Vladimir Putin did not hasten: he did not take a decision about blocking the price increase. Though, the Ministry office instituted proceedings against YUKOS and LUKOIL branch companies, accusing them of price deal. According to the first deputy leader of the antimonopoly office, Sergei Nikitin, the employees of his institutions analysed the period of supplies of the both companies from May 16 to June 26 subject to their data and information presented by the heads of regional administrations, agreements with consumers, and concluded that the price increase was co-ordinated. I.e. the question is about possible deal and violation of the law. Though, soon the office workers understood that they had no power to fight with oil giants. The branch companies presented to them all possible documents signifying that each of them had received special command from its leadership in Moscow about when and to what extant to increase the price. So, there was a deal, it obviously took place in the supreme leadership of the both companies, i.e. in Moscow. While this is already out of the framework of the Stavropol office jurisdiction. August 1, the case was closed and handed it over to the Moscow ministry. The head of the office, Vladimir Rokhmistrov was forced to openly explain to disappointed political bomonde of the region and to its indignant citizens how matters stand with the question. And there is no hope that YUKOS and LUKOIL will be unmasked in Moscow. So far no big Russian company was punished for violation of Russian antimonopoly laws.
Antimonopoly Police Ministry however managed to prove through court its right to include Nizhny Novgorod GAZ company into the list of monopolists. Though, in general the company occupies itself with small things. For example, it tries to ban to a Menshevik confectionery to produce Life is Life chewing gum, or to Bank of Moscow to increase authorized capital. These cases as well as many others were lost by the ministry.
The ministry’s territorial offices are not lucky as well. For example, the Tomsk office tried to include Sibir airline into the list of the companies dominating in the market. The airline executing all Moscow – Tomsk – Moscow flights addressed with a protest to Tomsk regional arbitration tribunal and wan the trial.
It is obvious that development of competition and fight with monopolies is only in embryo in Russia. Antimonopoly Policy Ministry should as fast as possible become experienced in these cases and, what is the main thing, get political will to finally establish simple order in this sphere. For, monopolists, like YUKOS or United Energy Systems of Russia Stock Company, everywhere annihilate competition and derive huge profits from such a situation of the consumer who has no alternative. Taking into account such situation it is even senseless to speak about creation of strong market economy. While without it the transition in Russia will endless.
Dmitry Slobodyanyuk PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/economics/2002/08/02/45127.html