Chairman of the Federation Council Sergei Mironov’s visit to the city of Arkhangelsk was his first official business trip to the Russian regions at this post. This is significant the Russian seaboard was his first aim. Just before the trip, Sergei Mironov visited the Transcaucasian region and met with the parliamentarians and presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The politicians immediately invented a new term, “Mironov’s Transcaucasian initiative.” Now, such meetings will be carried out every three months.
The day before yesterday, Sergei Mironov visited the Solombal Pulp and Paper Milk, the Malye Karely Museum of Wooden Architecture, and the Arkhangelsk Harbor. However, his main aim was the city of Severodvinsk. Sergei Moronov visited the Northern Machine-Building Works and its museum and spoke to the director of the biggest military dockyard in Europe. According to Sergei Mironov, he was impressed with the activity of its director, D.Pashaev, Hero of Russia, who, despite all the troubles of recent years, managed to keep high-qualified staff and man the plants. He called Zvyozdocka one of the most prospective works in Russia, which can solve the difficult economic situation. Mironov also visited a unique diamond site and met with its workers. Yesterday, at the session of the Arkhangelsk administration, Governor A. Yefremov presented his view on the regions’ issues, while Mironov promised to do his best to settle them. As was clear from the press conference that took place just after the session, the priorities are the following: the armament industry, forestry, the extraction of earth reserves, transport, and energy. Representatives of many central and almost all local mass media gathered for the press conference. First, the questions were connected with the issue of the federal debt to the region.
Question. When will the budget pay almost 500 million rubles (approximately $ 17 million) to the Northern Machine-Building Works for the building of Gepard nuclear submarine, which was built last year?
Answer. "Let us speak concretely: this is not the budget’s debt, but that of the Defence Ministry. These means were apportioned to the ministry in time, and I hope that they will be transmitted to Severodvinsk. In June, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov arrives in Severodvinsk."
Q. It was noticed that, while solving staff questions, President Vladimir Putin was more favorable to St Petersburg citizens. Could this fact influence the lobbying interests of this city? For example, in apportioning orders, including that ones for export, to St Petersburg dockyards but not to Severodvinsk?
A. "This question is hardly actual. There is no lobbying at all. People who hold power have no right to lobby. As for the fact that the president prefers to see St Petersburg citizens on his team, he just wants to work with people he knows personally, who have proven themselves in practice. The president's team does not consist only of St Petersburg citizens. This is a myth. There are people from everywhere who work with the president." Q. The recent meeting of Russian and US presidents showed that our country aspires to establish good relations with NATO…
A. "Of course, it did. We have no right to confront any international organization. The NATO statute reads that settling any military question should be preceded by a political decision. Why shouldn't Russia participate in taking decisions of such a level?"
Q. What is your view on recent exclusion of the three State Duma deputies from the Communist Party?
A. "I do not suppose this would undermine the Party’s ratings. Communists have their electorate oriented more for ideology than for persons. As for the fact that the three communists excluded from the party have remained in the State Duma, this was right. They are good specialists, so let them work for the welfare of Russia."
Q. Has Russia’s conception changed with the new president?
A. "As the new president was elected, Russian policy took on a clear shape and a systematic character. Serious changes happened almost in all spheres of social life. Today, signs of our society’s recovery are obvious. These are the consolidation of power, certain revival of economy, and gradual restoration of real incomes of the population, however, only in comparison with 1993. The signs of recovery are more obvious in political sphere: we can speak about the confidence in the supreme power.
"In the meantime, we cannot be satisfied with today’s rate of economic growth. After the most serious issues of the crisis in the country have been settled, new questions appear about the more stable development of all spheres of social life. Great tasks of such a character were taken on by the president for next year and for the future. "Most of these tasks have both a federal and a regional dimension; therefore, they touch all of us. The state should be really effective in securing national interests.
"A reform of the administration should be carried out to deprive the state of superfluous functions causing the growth of bureaucracy and corruption. Natural monopolies should be reformed in the fuel and energy complex, railway transport, and communal services.
It should be admitted, that society’s recovery is not full. The gap between the rich and poor is growing, as well as bureaucracy structures, which does not cause effectiveness of their governing."
Q. Why have you chosen the Russian seaboard for your first visit as chairman of the Federation Council?
A. "The Arhangelsk region is a kind of mirror reflecting many serious issues of our motherland. First, the issue of armament industry. We should do our best to retain it and to intensively develop it. From this point of view, the Arkhangelsk region possesses a great material and intellectual potential that cannot be simply wasted.
The regional administration did much to retain the armament industry complex. Within two years, the volume of state defence orders was seriously enlarged. Investments are more active in the armament complex. Its relations with similar firms in the US, Great Britain, Norway, Holland, and Denmark have been strengthened. "However, of course, there are many negative points. For example, the experience of civil shipbuilding is used only for the execution of foreign companies orders.
"Second is using of natural resources. This issue is common both for the federal level and for the regions. The Arkhangelsk region is rich in forests, animals, and fish, but there are resources that should be mastered: oil, gas, and diamonds. For these aims, investments are necessary, and, therefore, a legal and political base to decrease the level of business risk. "The third problem is almost miserable life of our citizens. And this also concerns the Arhangelsk region. In the richest region, which still makes its contribution to prosperity of the country, over 60 percent of its citizens have incomes below the living wage. And despite this, the region’s residents continue to work and enlarge the property created by the whole nation.
"All the issues can be solved only with common efforts, both on federal and regional levels. My colleagues from the Federation Council and I will insist first of all on serious extension of state defence order.
"In 1999, the federal law “About State Support of Shipbuilding Industry of the Russian Federation” was introduced, which is very important for Arkhangelsk Region, because the law determines both functions of federal executive bodies and of subjects of federation in the field on state support of shipbuilding industry.
"This law is very important for finding non-budgetary sources of financing. The Federation Council is aware of numerous addresses of the regional administration and of the works leaders asking for the immediate passing the law. The last address was made in January of this year. We will support all efforts to ratify this law as soon as possible." Q. What is the difference between the “new” Federation Council and the “old” one?
A. We have fixed three strategic tasks: systematization of the legislation, state legislation planning, and coordination of legislative activities with subjects of federation.
"By the end of this year, we will form a 5-year plan of forming the legislation of the Russian Federation, which will include initiatives of the president, of the government, and of State Duma deputies, as well as of the Federation Council and of federation subjects. One more important question is participation of regional legislative bodies in federal legislation and the results of this participation. To unite forces of the Upper House and regional legislation bodies, Council for Cooperation between Federation Council and Legislation Bodies of State Power of the Russian Federation was created, including leaders of these bodies. The creation of the council was approved of by the President. According to Vladimir Putin, the most important question is delimitation of the cognizance between different levels of power and development of local self-government. As the new council has been created, drafts of federal laws on subjects on joint competence, after having been introduced to the State Duma, will be sent to regional authorities which should present their expert judgements to the Duma within a month.
"The new council will gather when necessary, though not a seldom as two times a year. Between its sessions, its presidium will work, which will be gathered every three months. "We agreed with the president that the first session of the council will take place this autumn, in the Kremlin. Local legislation workers will have access to all federal institutions in Moscow. Therefore, the new council will have the same status as the State Council. The new council will work under the president's patronage. I introduced to our regulations such a norm: if there is an initiative of a federation subject, committees of the Federation Council must consider it."
Andrei Mikhailov Specially for PRAVDA.Ru Arkhangelsk
Photograph: Nikolai Kalistratov, director general of Zvezdochka work hands over a model of a submarine to Sergei Mironov.
Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/05/28/41867.html