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Lobbying is harder in new Duma

Victorious deputies who had reportedly spent between 4 to 5 million dollars in the last State Duma election campaign were positive that they had hit the jackpot.
At least some of them thought that they had secured their well-being for next four years. But soon they came to realize that the current situation, contrary to expectations, offered far less lucrative opportunities.

The past six months saw radical changes in the lobbying landscape. After the crackdown on Yukos informally incriminated in seeking “to buy the entire State Duma” and to control law making process the lobbyists assumed a lower profile. Besides, the new Duma has shown that it is able to vote as told implying that the lobbying methods will be different from now on.

According to Elena Panfilova, head of Transparency International-R, an international center for anticorruption research and initiatives, “lobbying the basic package of the government bills in the new Duma dominated by United Russia won’t have a ghost of a chance”.

Bills initiated by the government accounted for about the half of total bills in the previous Duma. Now, according to a White House staff, their number will inevitably rise to two thirds or higher, and the drafting services market will move closer to the White House.

Economist Michael Delyagin says that former efforts to introduce a full-fledged bill in the past will give way  to chicanery like  making cosmetic amendments  to the bills pushed by the president and the government

Lobbying services related to lawmaking will certainly remain in place but are likely to acquire a sophisticated twist claiming a higher reward. The battlefield will shift from the now uninteresting State Duma to the government.

Legal experts and economists with expertise in lawmaking and capable of attaining the goal by making inconspicuous changes in the document wording will be in greater demand.

The Kremlin needs a tame Duma baking laws without a hitch. The bulk of MPs are prepared to deliver goods as prescribed, if duly rewarded. But a recent rise in salaries has passed almost unnoticed. The President’s Office seeks most open, for its own needs, and speedy legislative procedures. In February, Boris Gryzlov, the Lower House Speaker and member of President’s Anticorruption Council, proposed to set up a special department in the Duma to scrutinize draft bills for corruption-related motivation with powers to approve their further passage. But instead, a commission was established to give only recommendations, with a strong presence of former law enforcement officials.

“Too many persons with such a background on the commission appear to create an unfavorable impression”, says Sergey Zhavoronkov, Institute for Transition Economy. “Law enforcement bodies are notorious for corruptibility and people distrust them”.

“Sophisticated procedures are known to fuel corruption in economy or business related matters,” says Boris Makarenko, head of the Center for Political Technologies. “There are fears that the commission’s activities may slow down the legislative process and a new control function may invite more corruption. A person in charge of that function runs the risk of becoming a corrupt official himself”.

Georgiy Satarov, President of the INDEM Foundation, believes that the effectiveness of the commission will depend on the expertise it can enlist and the willingness of MPs to follow their advice.

Alexey Makarkin from the Center for Political Technologies can foresee that conflicting lobbying groups may seek to block the moves of their opponents using the commission’s powers.

 Translated by ZM