Business to Assess Ministers’, Governors’ Efficiency
The Russian government has found a way to fulfill the roadmaps on improving the investment environment being drafted by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI). According to the draft of a presidential executive order available to Kommersant, the governors and heads of federal agencies will be responsible for creating favorable business conditions. The government will make an annual assessment of their efficiency in this field according to methods which the ASI is to develop jointly with business.
The draft of the presidential executive order on evaluating the efficiency of the heads of federal agencies and regions in creating favorable business conditions is based on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which are to be introduced in accordance with Vladimir Putin’s order issued after his return to the Kremlin in May 2012. The document, drafted by the Economic Development Ministry and finalized following a meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov, has been coordinated by the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Regional Development and approved by the Justice Ministry.
Officials will only be assessed by their efforts to improve the business environment. The law will be applied to the heads of federal agencies and Russian regions in the categories chosen, taking into account the opinion of businesspeople. Most of these indicators coincide with the World Bank’s Doing Business indicators. The indicators for federal officials include: improving customs and tax regulations; protecting investors’ rights; optimizing the procedure for state registration of legal entities and real estate transactions; facilitating access to bank loans and energy infrastructure; improving the business climate in construction and Russia’s international credit ratings; supporting exports; and promoting competition. The last indicator is based on the general assessment of the investment climate by business. The ranking of the regional heads does not include some indicators that concern only federal powers, but does include additional indicators such as the creation of high performance jobs; the situation on the labor market; the quality and availability of the industrial and transportation infrastructure; the attraction of investment and the development of small business.
The ASI is working on roadmaps in nearly all these areas; these roadmaps are likely to form the basis for the Russian KPIs. The government and the ASI are to approve KPIs for officials by November 15 this year and the methods for calculating them by January 1, 2013. The government will submit annual reports to the president on the KPIs for federal officials and also compile a comparative ranking of governors. The 2012 report is to be submitted by July 1, 2013.
Punishment for officials with a low KPI score has not yet been determined. Deputy Economic Development Minister Sergei Belyakov told Kommersant that decisions on federal officials will be based on their performance reports. He did not say how the KPIs would be applied to the elected heads of regions. The law adopted in May 2012 specifies only one type of punishment: dismissal by the president due to a loss of confidence.
Radio Stations to Warn About Adult Content
Radio stations will have to warn their listeners about songs containing adult themes, Alexander Zharov, head of the Russian communications and mass media monitoring agency (Roskomnadzor), said in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
“Song lyrics can be quite graphic. We have been discussing this with the professional community and we agreed that radio stations must warn listeners about restricted content, say, four times a day and also during those shows that include potentially offensive music.”
Zharov added that the National Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters would set up an expert group to rate songs to be aired over the radio. Gradually, the experts will evaluate all controversial music and issue recommended ratings.
Interestingly, live broadcasts will not be rated – perhaps due to their spontaneous nature. However, reruns of shows that may be inappropriate or even shocking for children will fill timeslots as prescribed by law.
Zharov also commented on how advertisers will be affected by the new law protecting children from potentially harmful content. Advertisers rather than media outlets will be held responsible for the content of ads.
“Commercials must be rated. Media lawyers must include concise content requirements in advertising contracts. If the agreement is specific, an advertisement will not contain anything that violates the law. Otherwise the responsibility will rest with the advertiser rather than the media outlet,” Zharov said.
The law protecting children from information that could affect their physical or psychological health introduces four levels of content ratings: 6+, 12+, 16+ and 18+. The material rated 18+ would contain dangerous behavior including promoting suicide, very strong language or explicit sex; it might justify criminal activity, encourage substance abuse, prostitution, vagrancy or gambling or question family values and respect for parents.
Children 16 to 18 are not allowed to watch scenes containing disasters, accidents, disease and death, violence, drug abuse and its effects, strong language or sex.
Enforcement of the new law falls within the competence of the Federal Antimonopoly Service.
The Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) is concerned with the restrictions in terms of online media social and political discussion. RAEC plans to argue how the new regulations could affect online media in a letter to Roskomnadzor.
Russian Human Right Activists Support Adam Osmayev Accused of Plotting to Kill Putin
The tangled case involving a planned attempt on Vladimir Putin’s life is getting increased publicity as Russian human rights champions rally support through social networks.
Adam Osmayev and Ilya Pyanzin were arrested in February by Russian and Ukrainian special services investigating a planned attack on then-presidential candidate Vladimir Putin. In a report shown on Russia's Channel One a week before the elections, the correspondent spoke about an explosion in an apartment in Odessa, Ukraine, where three men were allegedly making a bomb to attack Putin with. Osmayev, who was earlier wanted for a failed May 2007 attempt to assassinate then-Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, confessed to everything.
The two suspects’ families appealed for human rights activists to intervene. Yevgeny Arkhipov, head of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, is convinced the suspects will not get a fair hearing in Russia. On August 17, the European Court of Human Rights asked Ukraine to suspend Osmayev’s extradition to Russia. “We have reason to believe that his trial will be like some high-profile cases that have ended with the suspects dying in prison,” Arkhipov said.
He has started a Facebook group, where he plans to post case materials so that everyone can study them and decide for themselves “whether this really was a plot, or just a pre-election publicity stunt.” The lawyer plans to obtain the materials from the case of Ilya Pyanzin, whose trial will take place in Russia.
The case received widespread publicity after the Channel One reporter said on film that Osmayev was “cooperating” and “giving evidence” in the hope of avoiding extradition. However, on camera he gave vague answers, saying that the plan had been to use a suicide bomber, Ruslan Madayev, who was accidentally killed in the Odessa apartment explosion.
The only material evidence to substantiate the plot hypothesis are video clips of Putin getting into his car and of his motorcade traveling through Moscow, which had been downloaded onto a laptop found at the wrecked apartment.
But in his statement in mid-August, Osmayev retracted his previous statements. He also denied that the laptop was his or that it was he who had downloaded the incriminating footage. Osmayev explained that he had confessed under pressure: “Anyone would confess to the killing of Kennedy and the attempt on the life of the Pope if they had a plastic bag placed over their head.” He also said he was given drugs which altered his state of mind.
The Strasbourg Court is still deliberating whether Osmayev should be extradited, while the suspect is waiting for Georgia and Finland’s responses to his requests for asylum. His wife and her lawyers have so far failed to get permission to visit him. She said their plan is to ensure that the trial takes place in Ukraine. “The investigators don’t have any evidence against him, apart from his own confessions obtained under torture or the influence of drugs,” she added.
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