Media Review

20 february, 2012 12:19

Rossiiskaya Gazeta: "Putin’s tour of Siberia"

Putin checks readiness of polling stations.

In the end of the last week Prime Minister Vladimir Putin went on a long regional tour. Siberia was his first stop. On Friday he focused on innovations in Novosibirsk and on Saturday discussed business projects in Krasnoyarsk and Abakan.

However, this was not his only concern. Putin visited a gymnasium in Novosibirsk to see for himself how polling stations are being equipped with web cameras. Everything was fine – all devices ready for video streaming; a computer, continuous power supply and a special safe for their storage that will be opened on the voting day.

"We will work in conditions of total transparency," Yury Petukhov, head of the Novosibirsk Regional Election Commission (REC) said. "Our country will teach others a lesson of democracy."

After the voting the REC heads will put the protocols before the cameras and read out the results.

"The main thing is to prevent any sneaking," Putin summed up.

Modern technology is required not only for elections. Putin believes it is absolutely essential for the effective operation of the entire system of government management. He was shown scientific achievements in the high-tech park of the Academic Town and asked about benefits there and then.

Putin spent surprisingly much time at the exhibition of innovations in the IT Centre that is an architectural wonder by itself. He was interested in every exhibit – from supplements to medicines that prevent them from being turned into drugs to tracking devices built in into a miner's lamp.

During the excursion Putin was accompanied by Minister of Communications and Mass Media Igor Shchegolev. He told Putin that the high-tech park is an ideal place for technical support residents. IT guys were happy about the place of their registration but did not fail to ask Putin some questions as soon as they had a chance.

"We are ready to give every support to IT," the prime minister said. The government plans to allocate about 6.5 billion roubles for the development of high-tech parks in the4 next three years. Putin proposed that regions and departments appoint their supervisors to oversee the introduction of information technology.

The electronic government occupies a special place in the formation of an effective modern mechanism of state management. Today, more than 330 services are rendered electronically and every week departments make up to 100,000 mutual inquiries.

However, Putin believes this is just the tip of the iceberg. People receive the most important services at regional and municipal level. For them a switch to electronic format will take place on July 1. For the time being, the process is following the time schedule but the leaders and outsiders have already appeared. Putin mentioned the Volgograd, Samara and Tyumen regions among the former and Adygea, Yakutia and the Chukotka Autonomous Area among the latter.

By March 1, primary state services must be transferred to the electronic format and there must be personal responsibility for this, Putin said. It is essential to leave people a choice – those who are used to live in the old way should be able to receive services as usual. It is necessary to develop integrated government service centres (IGSC) for this purpose. "If fact, we have not one window but one door...but this is not too bad for a start." Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina thinks that those who prefer to deal with departments electronically should enjoy discounts because electronic services are 90 per cent cheaper than the paper ones.

Shchegolev added some facts and figures. He said that fines are the most popular "electronic" service. The Ministry of the Interior receives the bulk of them. It is followed by the Russian State Register and the Federal Tax Service. The minister emphasised that computers help people save their time and nervous energy.

To make the dialogue even easier, the minister suggested creating a state electronic mail "whereby every person will have an email address for communicating with the government." "Millions of public roubles are being spent on endless letters, such as notices from the Pension Fund and other places. Meanwhile, they could be sent to electronic emails instead of coming to ordinary mail boxes where they are being lost. Besides, ordinary mail is much more expensive," he explained.

During his tour of Siberia Putin also made a stop at Krasnoyarsk where the economic forum was wounding on Saturday. He visited the exhibition centre but took part only in the events organised by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI).

Putin walked around the ASI exhibition and then attended the open meeting of the Expert Council. He said little and mostly listened. He did not even make an opening address. By contrast, the authors of initiatives were very active. They were eager to win the support of the ASI, and still better, of Putin himself and they received his attention – the prime minister listened patiently and amiably even to half-baked proposals. The ASI was established at Putin's initiative recently – last summer – but has already reviewed about 3,500 proposals. Today, 99 projects are being carried out; 50 will be considered at the next meetings of the working groups; 33 are awaiting expertise and 16 have been endorsed for implementation.

At the Saturday meeting in Abakan, Putin spoke about the need to eliminate the consequences of the last year's earthquakes. He suggested allocating an additional 400 million roubles to the Republic of Tyva that was the hardest hit. This money will be used to help people and restore housing and infrastructure facilities, notably about 1,000 dwelling buildings and a hundred infrastructure facilities, including two thermal power plants and three bridges.

In the meantime, Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu predicted new earthquakes in Tyva. An inter-regional center for the forecast, monitoring and response to emergencies on the Altai-Sayan Plateau could minimise the risks of natural disasters. "I think we can quickly prepare the documents for the centre together with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and the Ministry of Regional Development. It should become one of the elements of a comprehensive system of warning and response in all earthquake-prone regions of Russia," Shoigu said. Naturally enough, the prime minister will be responsible for the allocation of funds for this project. Putin did not object to the idea and instructed the Emergencies Ministry to draft a project for the centre's construction together with the RAS. "It should rely on modern seismic stations in Tyva, Khakassia and Altai," he emphasised.

The centre aside, the government will have to go for a big spending spree. Based on the results of the meeting, Putin instructed the Ministry of Regional Development and the Finance Ministry to calculate how much money will be required for the recovery of transportation facilities, construction of generating capacities and development of the airport infrastructure in the damaged regions. "And please, spare us any surprises. You must guarantee the drafting of all the necessary funding documents," Putin warned.

Nevertheless, the federal budget does not have enough money for everything. Putin considered exaggerated the demands of Tyva on funding the relocation of people from dilapidated and hazardous housing although its condition had been aggravated by the earthquake. The comparison of figures (Tyva received 2.164 billion roubles, Khakassia 1.203 billion and Altai 524 million roubles) did not favour Tyva, either. This is why Putin instructed the Ministry of Regional Development and the Finance Ministry to draft a feasibility report on the funding of relocation of people from dilapidated and hazardous housing. "The share of old housing in Tyva is six times higher than in other areas. We will talk with the presidential envoy. There is a limit for this year and we will have to think about what funds could be redistributed. These are exorbitant sums. The population is not that big, however," Putin said.



Modern technology is required not only for elections. It is absolutely essential for the effective operation of the entire system of government management.


Today, more than 330 services are rendered electronically and every week departments make up to 100,000 mutual inquiries.

Kira Latukhina and Vitaly Petrov