RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT FOR SECRET DECISION-MAKING. EXPERTS BAFFLED

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MOSCOW, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's government is nourishing plans to classify decision-making, say rumours. Analysts are of mutually contrasting opinions.

"It will be bad for the government-it'll pay too dear for its bungles. But then, the plan is part of current trends," says Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Endowment Moscow office. If the government keeps independent experts off bill drafting, future laws will be in self-seeking parochial hands, he apprehensively remarked.

The Cabinet aims to amend its regulations for a classified status of bills being drafted.

Proponents of openness, on the contrary, insist on a legislative basis for civil society involved in debates round new bills.

"Public access to information about upcoming decisions, and civil expertise of drafts need a legal footing," Alexander Arinin of the research Institute of Federalism and Civil Society said to a Unity for Russia fund session.

If the Cabinet really means to make its work hush-hush, it is clashing with President Vladimir Putin, who called civil society to be more active in state affairs as he was making his state-of-the-nation address to parliament this morning, he stressed.

Certain experts are enthusiastic about the Fradkov Cabinet initiative.

Secrecy will prevent insider information, and promote necessary but unpopular moves, says Dmitri Oreshkin, head of the Mercator analytical team. "There is some reason for such plans. An absence of insider information will prevent market speculations while the government is making essential decisions," he remarked to Novosti.

Mr. Oreshkin takes civil experts with a grain of salt, and regards too many of them as publicity-seeking dabbler politicians.

"The idea of public expertise frightens me. I don't see just how managerial affairs will go on if they are on a toiling majority's behalf. But then, Big Brother may make a secret of everything, and say to the people, 'Mind your own business.' A golden means is what we need. That's the whole problem," he said.

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