Russia » Economics
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Russia is Proud: It Can be Compared to Europe

As a result of successes achieved by the Russian Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy, only natural monopolies and municipal formations now deal with the restriction of competition
As a result of successes achieved by the Russian Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy, only natural monopolies and municipal formations now deal with the restriction of competition. Governors have no more stomach for this.

Conferences of different kinds, round-table discussions and outdoor seminars are very popular in Russia. Evidently, events of this kind help officials and businessmen distract themselves from the tedious everyday economic reality. Conferences give them an opportunity to talk a lot with colleagues, drink various beverages for free and hear here or there that, in some respects, Russia has caught up with the West. And so on.

Such an event was held in the Russian capital today. The National Investment Council and the National Institute of Corporate Reform organized an event called "Russia's Anti-Monopoly Policy and Investment Climate." It may be assumed that half of the staff of the Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy was present at the event.
Deputy Minister for Anti-Monopoly Policy Andrey Tsyganov spoke at the conference and told participants of the Russian economy’s happy news. As it turned out, Western specialists are said to have reached the conclusion that "the Russian anti-monopoly legislation is comparable to the competition law of the European community." It is quite natural that the ministry considers this fact to show its own merit. Why not?

As is known, the Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy observes the purity of competition in the country. The peculiarity of market relations in Russia is such that the Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy may wait for applications from enterprises wishing to merge or to separate, while within this very period the enterprises will manage to merge or separate without any special permission of the ministry.

In the words of the deputy minister for anti-monopoly policy, administrative authorities have resolved no major violations of the anti-monopoly legislation. As Andrey Tsyganov explained, some time ago the ministry had to attack Russian governors almost every week. The governors were trying to protect the economic space of their regions. It was rather frequent that governors would prohibit imports or exports of goods to or from their territories, but later allow imports and exports of the goods once again. The ministerial official says this practice has been stopped. Federal officials, financial industrial groups and natural monopolies are ruling over the territories of Russian regions. Little depends upon governors in the economic sphere now.

Let's take Moscow, for example, where federal authorities sold a land plot on which a privatized enterprise was standing. This was done without the consent of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and of the territorial authorities. The price of the plot was only $500,000 instead of the due $10 million. It is now explained that it was an experiment. As Andrey Tsyganov says, the above-mentioned violations are now in the jurisdiction of municipal authorities.

At that, it is not clear why, but 70% of cases concerning abuse and domination of power fall on the natural monopolies. And this can be explained: Corporations like Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom or Transneft, in addition to considerable financial resources, enjoy the support of federal officials - which is why they may ignore Russian governors quite easily.

PRAVDA.Ru has already reported on unsuccessful attempts of the Ministry for Anti-Monopoly Policy to make Russia's natural monopolies and large companies observe the Russian anti-monopoly legislation at least for the sake of appearance. Criminal proceedings were even started against some monopolies in territorial departments of the ministry. However, companies always explained that directions saying how they must act always came from Moscow. Which in its turn meant that the problem must be settled in the central offices of the companies in Moscow. However, when the ministry switched over to Moscow, the chances to settle the problem were less feasible.

Nevertheless, the ministerial official says, violations committed by the Russian natural monopolies are temporary and not too frightening. He hopes that "all abuses in the sphere will be ruled out as a result of deep structural reforming." So, let's wait and see how another "couple of years" may improve the situation in the sphere.