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INSTITUTE FOR THE ECONOMY IN TRANSITION RUSSIAN ECONOMY: TRENDS AND PERSPECTIVES January 2005 MONTHLY BULLETIN Moscow 2005 Institute for the Economy in Transition, 1996. Licence, 02079 19 2000 .

5 Gazetny pereulok, Moscow 103918, Russian Federation Phone: (095) 203-88-16 Fax: (095) 202-42-24 E- Mail: todorov@iet.ru 1 Politico-economical developments of January 2005............................................................................... 3 Budgetary and Fiscal Policy.................................................................................................................... 5 Monetary Policy...................................................................................................................................... 9 Financial Markets.................................................................................................................................. 11 The Real Sector of the Economy: Factors and Trends.......................................................................... 20 Oil and Gas Sector................................................................................................................................. 24 IET Business Survey: Industry in January of 2005............................................................................... 27 Russia: budget support to farm production in 2004.............................................................................. 29 Foreign trade......................................................................................................................................... 34 The third law on insolvency: the first results and prospects................................................................. 37 Most Important Issues Considered at the Sessions of the RF Government on January 13 and 27, 2005.................................................................................................................. A review of regulatory documents concerning taxation, which were made public in January of 2005............................................................................................................ A review of economic legislation: January of 2005.............................................................................. Politico-economical developments of January The major event of January 2004 became an absolutely unpredictable for powers social activity of the population because of coming into force monetization of benefits. As is known, the surprising peaceful behavior of population in the passed year, in passing by the Parliament of such an unpopular measure, caused many analysts to make far-reaching conclusions from suggestions of a social apathy of citizens to speculations of giving the total support to Vladimir Putin who, in conditions of controlled television, will be excused anything. (In June August 2004, even communists and other dissatisfied groups of population in Moscow could bring out into the streets only some hundreds of people, though, It is fair to say that at this particular time actions were conducted to split the KPRF, by conducting parallel congresses, etc.). It worth noting that the January troubles had not been marked in the time-schedules of most radical political forces.

However, it turned out that seemed peace and order in the country is deceitful. Waves of protest triggered in Russia on January 10, by the end of holidays, when the earlier used their benefits citizens had to make use of transportation services, and they clearly realized during their holidays that absence of benefits is a new reality. Of course, there were some additional factors that added fuel to the flame. It turned out during analysis of what happened, that only one (!) region Yakutia provided delivery to homes of the beneficiaries of federal level their monthly payments in cash (for January) before the New Year holidays.

In the city Khimki of the Moscow region pensioners blocked Leningradskoye highway, and in St.Petersburg, where the protester actions were most large-scale (to 10 thousand), Nevsky Prospect.

The started wave of meetings is continuing, gathering, depending on the size of city, from hundreds to thousands of people. The forms and style of behavior are different - from pickets to capture of administrative buildings (for example, in Izhevsk, on Sakhalin etc.). In Bashkiria, where after 2003 there formed a strong infrastructure, opposing Rakhimovs regime, the meetings were conducted in imitation to Ukrainian, with the use of orange symbols. The dynamics and specifics of the process come under notice blocking of Leningradskoye highway happened at the time when the meeting near the city administrations building produced no effect. And only a large jamming on Leningradskoye highway forced to draw attention to those gathered at the meeting. Quite clear that the situation became most acute just in the Moscow region the possibility of free transportation of pensioners in Khimki remains only in the city transport, but almost all existing transport routes in Khimki district are suburban. So, most of pensioners have no travel privilege. Besides, the displeasure of the protesters caused by the fact that the right for free traveling in Moscow had only Moscow pensions, and other pensioners who pretended to passage in Moscow metro had to undergo the humiliating procedure of checking registration of passports. According to Finance Minister Kudrin, about 1% of the countrys inhabitants (1.5 million)) took to the streets.

It is indicative that in most cases the protest actions led to positive results for those who took to the streets. In Udmurtia, for example, where the crowd numbering 5 thousand participants carried out on January 12 an assault of the Government House, the working group of the republic government had been formed of the protesters, who decided to retain free traveling on public transport for pensioners.

By the decision of the Moscow government the Moscow region inhabitants will also have the right to free passes in the Moscow metro. After blocking for 4 hours, on January 15 and 16, in St.-Petersburg the crossing of the two central streets of the city Sadovaya and Nevsky Prospect - Valentina Matviyenko stated that she will bring to the notice of Putin and the government an opinion of people about the necessity of cancellation of the bill on monetization of benefits, and also will supply the pensioners with travel cards. In Kemerovo region A. Tuleev promised to work with entrepreneurs so that to enter such a new budget line as non-repayable transfers.

An interesting characteristic feature of protests, which cannot be concealed even by federal TV channels, is a radical anti-president agenda. The protesters blamed in their misfortunes not the government, certainly not its left wing (despite the communists efforts to narrow the problem to Kudrin and Gref), not governors (who, it is true, might well, but did not mitigate the outcome of monetization, probably, because of cancellation of electivity and loosing incentives for dialogue with the electorate), but, personally, V. Putin. Another interesting detail is a rather a good-natured behavior of militia, though, as is known, during the last few years the normal practice became arrests, beating the participants of peaceful unauthorized mass actions. And this is may well be explained as pensioners, the militiamen themselves lost benefits.

Because of this situation, the countrys leadership had to, first, repent some omissions (A. Kudrin and M. Zurabov did so), and, second, offer certain measures to reduce social tension. As basic requirements of the protesters concern traveling on the public transport, the RF Government offered to governors a pattern of joint financing of the travel privilege. Its essence is in the following. Regions are offered to conclude an agreement with the center, according to which, a territory shall introduce on its territory a social travel card for federal and regional beneficiaries. This card should not be more expensive than the size of most low for this region cash compensation. Having sent to the Center an information of how many beneficiaries bought out their travel cards following the results of the quarter, regional administrations may count on 30% compensation of their price from the federal budget.

Those regions, which preserved free travel in kind, cannot pretend to receive compensation. Though, much is left unclear concerning pensioners, lots of which, according to the new law, do not fall within either of categories.

No doubt, one should not overestimate the events that happened. In the present-day situation the RF Government is capable, at least partly, again to grant benefits or increase the size of compensations, and after January 20-21 the protest actions receded. Though there is another information. According to the data of the Federal Agency on Tariffs, in 20 regions the services of the housing and utilities infrastructure went up by 40-70%, and, for example in Tatarstan more than two times (which is concerned with the necessity of introducing 100% paying the services of the housing and utilities infrastructure, which in many regions stood over to the bitter end). Knowing with this circumstance is still in prospect for the population. Also important is another thing. In January 2005 there were the first anti presidential mass actions for Putins period of being in office. The fact that they were not organized by a certain political force only means big potential of protest moods.

To the point, KPRF and Yabloko tried to join the protesters actions, but wee not a success. Contrary to their former position, SPS voiced severe criticism concerning not the principle of benefits monetization, but its haste and that the whole situation had not been worked out properly in advance.

But most striking public effect produced the four deputies, members of the Motherland faction, headed by its leader D. Rogozin, who went on hunger-strike in the State Duma for political reasons and demanded cancellation a package of draft laws on benefits monetization and resignation of the government.

Violent protests against the benefits monetization had also some ulterior motives. This month both V. Putin and S. Ivanov disproved the information on overall draft of students to the army. Though, Putins considerations on higher education institutions with senior divisions, all the same distress for the fate of students as, now, a draft deferment is granted to students regardless of the availability of a senior division in the higher education establishment.

An interesting development received business with the sale of the so-called Yuganskneftegaz. It became evident that the established by the well-known to V. Putin powermen the LLC Baikal Finance Group received money for a huge pledge (USD $1.7 bn) from Surgutneftegas, which, in turn, obtained a credit in Sberbank of the RF. Soon after, Baikal Finance Group was sold to Rosneft. Allegedly Rosneft on 31.12.2004, on the last working day paid the remaining sum. But, the source of financing is not clear for the transaction. It is not improbable that is the same Sberbank. However, most likely, it will became clear basing on reporting that no real movement of funds did occur otherwise it would be difficult to explain to Gazprom shareholders the loss of the bail stood by it. Therefore, the situation with Yuganskneftegaz demonstrated that the power not only departs from the right In the broad sense of the word, but, on the whole from lex scripta. It is obvious that there is no other way for writingoff the company debts. So, no wonder that broadcasting announce about the sale of part of Yuganskneftegaz shares either to Chinese or to Indian government company was not a success. At the same time, it becomes more and more difficult to introduce the managers of Yuganskneftegaz (chairman of the board of Rosneft, I. Sechin) into Gazprom system, controlled by competing St.-Petersburg group of A Miller.

The sale of Yuganskneftegaz led to an activation of M. Khodorkovsky. It was announced that now his shares of the management company Group Menatep are passed into the ownership of his historical assistant and team-mate L. Nevzlin, departed to Israel, who, in turn, promised to litigate with the Russian Government. Though, nothing new had been demonstrated as yet, which makes an impression that Khodorkovsky again count on some trade-off alternative with Kremlin, though it is clear that there are less chances now for this than before. The indicator of such a strange position is denial of massive setting up claims to the structures relating to the history of bashing YUKOS, in particular, to R.

Abramovich, that for more than a year hold USD $3 bn, transferred under the project of merger of YUKOS into Sibneft.

At the session of the Competition Council under the RF Government a number of business representatives A. Mordashev, A. Shokhin and, especially, A. Chubais criticized hard the investment climate in Russia and warned of possible negative implications of tax terrorism, touching more and more companies. Their initiatives were supported by A. Zhukov and A. Kudrin, who proposed to specify the authorities of tax services, What is meant here is possibility to suspend checking of (in fact, allowing to check a company the year-round, with intervals for 1-2 days), repeated checks for the same period (formalized under the pretence of supervision over the actions of the first controllers), arbitrary fine and penalty and charging, possibility of irrefutable writing-off means of the taxpayer and suppression of any documents of the company etc. The available information allows to suppose that, it is true, in spring of 2005 an information campaign will be conducted for working out the very same understood, light for taxpayers rules of game, to which V. Putin called for in his Message of 2004.

At the same time, the taxation bodies and courts will continue confiscation of the employers assets in accordance with the instructions available, and sometimes without them (most evident targets are the subsidiaries of YUKOS, Bashneft and Volgotanker). Standardizing of law-enforcement practice in tax sphere cannot but mean reducing the authority of the executive power, including the President of Russia, so, now it is impossible.

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