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Moscow Times: Regional Heads Face New Requirements

posted by FerrasB on October, 2005 as Imperialism

Regional Heads Face New Requirements

Wednesday, October 5, 2005. Issue 3267. Page 3.
By Francesca Mereu
Staff Writer

All provincial leaders will be required to draw up detailed development plans for their regions and stop accepting donations from individuals and companies, according to new details of a Kremlin-backed reform that envisions confiscating powers from leaders who fail to raise living standards.

Under the reform, which was drafted by Dmitry Kozak, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, regional leaders will be asked to send to the local legislature the annual budget together with a forecast for social and economic development, an official with the Federal Commission of the North Caucasus said Tuesday.

The forecast is to consist of at least 30 sections, including estimates of how gross regional output will change during the year, the amount of expected federal subsidies to the regional budget and projected figures for job growth and unemployment, said the official, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Regional leaders will also have to present an annual report summing up the results of the previous year.

"On the basis of this report, [President Vladimir Putin] and the regional envoys will decide whether to fire the governor or allow him to stay in power," the official said.

Also, in an attempt to curb corruption, regional leaders will be forbidden from accepting donations from private citizens and legal entities, ostensibly to help their territories, the official said.

"This is usually the first step toward corruption," the official explained. "Usually businessmen give money to governors in exchange for favors -- for example someone wants to build a new shop and needs help getting the permit. That money is officially given as a donation to help develop the region, but it usually ends up in the pockets of the governors. This is a form of bribing.

"Cases when businessmen want to donate money for charity are extremely rare in the regions," he added.

In a recent case, Telman Feroyan, a businessman from Ivanovo, accused Governor Vladimir Tikhonov of asking for a bribe in exchange for helping Feroyan's firm win a tender. The governor has denied the accusation and said he accepted the money as a donation to the region rather than for himself.

Georgy Poltavchenko, the presidential envoy to the Central Federal District, nominated several candidates to succeed Tikhonov as governor last week.

Kozak earlier said that the reform would strip executive powers from regional leaders and mayors whose budgets include subsidies of 30 percent or more. The more subsidies a region accepted, the more power the leader would lose.

Regional leaders will have the right to oppose the confiscation of power, but in that case they will "have to waive their right to get federal subsidies," the federal official said.

Dozens of the country's 89 regions receive federal subsidies of more than 30 percent. Seven receive more than 70 percent: the Tuva republic, the Koryak autonomous district and five North Caucasus republics -- Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia.

Ingush President Murat Zyazikov criticized the reform in an interview published Tuesday. "I'm firmly convinced that this is a pointless and impossible decision," Zyazikov told Vremya Novostei. "We have enough outside rule. Chechnya alone is enough."

The reform appears to be mainly intended to reinforce the power vertical so that Moscow has better control over the volatile North Caucasus regions, said Sergei Mikheyev, a regional analyst with the Center for Political Technologies.

The reform will need to be approved by the State Duma and the Federation Council before Putin can sign it into law.

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