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New government body appears via merger in Russia

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MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's president has issued a decree merging two federal services into a new body to oversee mass communications, information technology and cultural heritage, the Kremlin press office said Monday.

Vladimir Putin ordered the merger of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Mass Communications and the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Federal Service for the Oversight of Communications, subordinate to the culture ministry and information ministry, respectively, in a bid "to improve the structure of federal bodies."

The new body will be set up "to improve the structure of federal bodies" and will oversee legal issues and exercise control over mass communications and information technology, cultural heritage, intellectual property rights, and radio frequencies, the Kremlin said

The restructuring is apparently part of the Kremlin's efforts to provide broad segments of the population with access to Russia's cultural legacy and to encourage free-market services in the sphere, both of which were objectives set out in one of several ambitious welfare projects designed to improve life in the country.

However, some experts have argued that separate bodies should oversee information, telecommunications and culture, which they regard as totally different spheres, and that the merger could create a giant, ill-coordinated mechanism.

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