#AceFinanceNews – MOSCOW- April 16 – Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to create in Vladivostok a special economic zone of “industrial,production type” by June 15, 2014, the Kremlin website reported.
#AceFinanceNews says that Gazprom and Rosneft are officially the only companies with the right to explore the Russian Artic shelf, as they both received exclusive extraction licenses in return for large cash payments.
In 2009, Rosneft agreed to pay 1.4 billion roubles ($450 million) and Gazprom 1.2 billion in a resolution passed by the state Duma, but the exact amount paid in June 2013 for the licenses is unknown.
Russia has passed a law that only companies in which the state owns more than half and have at least 5 years of Arctic experience are eligible for permits
Lukoil, the country’s second largest oil company, is publicly owned, and Sugtneftegas, known to have close ties with the Kremlin, is also publicly owned, and therefore not up for a permit.
Tatneft is the country’s sixth largest and operates out of the Republic of Tatarstan, which is also the company’s primary shareholder.
#AceFinanceNews Unidentified hackers brought down the Russian presidency’s site and the Central Bank’s web page in a wave of on-line attacks.
The website is now operational for most users.
Specialists are now working to eliminate any disruption caused by the ongoing cyber-assault. An investigation has also been launched into the source of the hack attack.
#AceFinanceNews says Putin orders governors to slash PR budgets
The presidential order to optimize PR budgets must be fulfilled before February 1, reads the document published on the official Kremlin website. The Finance Ministry was made responsible for overseeing the process.
Putin’s order came after a whole series of controversies emerged a short time after a scandal in the central Russian Saratov Region. In December last year, the pro-Putin political movement United People’s Front officially complained to the president that the governor of the remote Far East province of Sakhalin planned to spend 680 million rubles (over $20 million) of budget funds on “improving his image” in just three years.
Putin expressed surprise over the news, but the Sakhalin public servants quickly justified the move, explaining that the huge sum was to be spent on “improvement of the state governing system” as a whole and actual “reporting on the activities of state power bodies” only required 50 million rubles (about $1.5 million).
Still, after the United People’s Front’s move the problem has come to the attention of both the authorities – who are currently looking for any opportunity to cut expenditures in the face of a looming budget deficit – and the media.
The head of the presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov, has called for regional officials to stop “fooling the people” by reporting about all governors’ actions and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has urged greater independence for regional mass media, including the switch from budget financing to self-accounting.
Popular internet news site Slon.ru has published a research report made by an expert of the Fiscal Politics Center, who claimed that although the expenditures on mass media amounted to about 1 or 2 percent of the regional budgets, they continued to grow even when budgetary income began to decrease – sometimes several-fold, such as in the Sverdlovsk Region (264 percent growth in 2013 compared to 2012) and in the Astrakhan Region (528 percent).
Such a trend can be explained, at least in part, by the political reform of 2013 that reinstated direct elections for heads of federation subjects, who were previously appointed by the president and only required formal approval from regional legislatures.
Federal parliamentarians and top officials have claimed that the changes would give more legitimacy to regional leaders and also give the political system a new impetus for development.
The first nationwide election day under the new rules took place on September 8, 2013.