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Russian Governmental Structures Lead Way in Breaking Anti-Monopoly Law - 14 March, 2003

Around 60% of infringements of Russian anti-monopoly legislation are due to illegal actions by state bodies, according to Russia Minister for Anti-Monopoly Policy and Small Business Support Ilya Yuzhanov. The Minister was speaking on Wednesday, March 12 at a meeting of the Federation Council. According to Yuzhanov, of 198 cases opened in 2002, 118 were against the heads of various government structures throughout Russia's regions. 'The most common infringements are providing unwarranted privileges and preference to certain companies, and allowing financial organisations access to budgetary funds on a non-competitive basis,' said the minister.

According to Yuzhanov, 'in the majority of Russia's financial and economic markets competition is suppressed by dominant financial companies.' He said that, first and foremost, this applied to Sberbank, Russia's main state-owned bank. The majority of complaints from ordinary people are about the unjustifiably high tariffs on services for individuals levied by Sberbank. The Anti-Monopoly Minister said that in 22 Russian regions Sberbank has been reducing the number of its branches, which makes it more difficult for small and medium-sized business to develop and creates problems for ordinary people.

An undesirable situation has also arisen in regional insurance markets. As a rule, these markets are dominated by one or two companies, many of which are subsidiaries or branches of Moscow-based insurance groups.

Yuzhanov announced that as a result of the cases investigated in 2002, the ministry has issued 112 orders on ending infringements of anti-monopoly law. 102 of these orders have been implemented or are currently being implemented.

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