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    Anti-monopoly legislation should cover natural monopolies

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    MOSCOW, July 8 (RIA Novosti) - Natural monopolies should be subject to anti-monopoly legislation, a senior official told the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, on Friday.

    Igor Artemyev, the head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, said: "All the provisions of the anti-monopoly law [it was considered in parliament Friday] will be applicable to natural monopolies. This means completely new regulations in this process."

    He said it was "no secret" that many natural monopolies wanted to prevent the new law on protecting competition from being applied to the natural monopolies.

    According to him, the natural monopolies tried to persuade the government that they represented a special category of business that should not be fall under the jurisdiction of a common anti-monopoly law.

    "The government disagreed with natural monopolies on the issue, and this is of principal importance," Artemyev said.

    When he was presenting the bill, Artemyev said it would help reduce the number of deals involving shares that the federal anti-monopoly body had to sanction by almost 20 times.

    The official said that permission from his service would only be required for obtaining a controlling block of shares, the blocking stake, or 75% of a company's shares.

    He said the number of permits and instructions issued by the Federal Anti-monopoly Service would be cut significantly.

    According to the bill, all Federal Anti-Monopoly Service decisions can be challenged in court. "It will save us from arbitrariness, as there are some positions today when a decision of the anti-monopoly body cannot be challenged in court," Artemyev said.

    In addition he said the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service would no longer be able to issue its own regulatory acts.

    Natural monopolies in Russia include electricity giant Unified Energy Systems of Russia, an energy monopoly, Russian Railways, and Gazprom, the country's biggest natural gas giant.

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