GOVERNMENT TO WORK BY A NEW PROCEDURE BUT IN CONDITIONS OF OPENNESS

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MOSCOW, May 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian government will discuss its working procedure at the May 27 session. Dmitry Kozak, chief of the government staff, told the journalists it is to approve the new working procedure in view of changes in the structure and functions of the cabinet.

"The procedure should stipulate the principles of operation and the procedure for co-ordinating and adopting documents," said a member of the government staff.

Some media had reported shortly before that the government officials (with the exception of a few key ministers) would not be allowed to comment on draft laws and other normative acts before their approval. The newspaper Vedomosti wrote that the government would prohibit its members to discuss its decisions with outsiders because it wants to keep secret information about them.

Replying to a RIA Novosti question about this Wednesday, Kozak said, "There are no bans." Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu pointed out that the procedure stipulates the working rules and not the behaviour of officials.

Vice-premier Alexander Zhukov told RIA Novosti he "had heard nothing" about the alleged ban on discussion of draft decisions by officials.

But Economic Development Minister German Gref is categorically against the information closeness of the government. "The authorities must be more open," he told RIA Novosti commenting on the Vedomosti report. Gref believes that the number of officials allowed to talk with the press must not be curtailed to just a few persons.

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