Decree of the President of the Russian Federation
"On the Structure of the Federal Bodies of the Executive Authority"
The decree of the President of the Russian Federation "On the Structure of the Federal Bodies of the Executive Authority", which contains among other measures the abolishment of the State Committee for Environmental Protection, has surprised many and may have a significant impact on indigenous peoples' issues in Russia. The text of the decree is reprinted below. Please find below two cited newspaper articles which comment on the event. -ANSIPRA
Decree no. 867, signed on 17 May 2000:
"With the view to form the effective structure of the federal bodies of the executive authority, according to Article 112 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal Constitutional law «On the government of the Russian Federation,» I decree:
1. To confirm the enclosed structure of the federal bodies of the executive authority.
2. To abolish: The Ministry for the affairs of the Commonwealth of the Independent States; the Ministry for Science and Technology; the Ministry for Commerce; Economy Ministry; the State Committee for the Problems of the North; the State Committee for Land Policy; the State Committee for Cinematography; the State Committee for Environmental Protection; the State Committee for the Problems of Youth; the Federal Service of Air Transport of Russia; the Federal Migration Department; the Federal Department of Russia for Currency and Export Control; the Russian Road Agency.
3. To form: The Ministry for Economic Development and Commerce of Russia having delegated to it a part of the functions of the abolished Ministries for the Affairs of CIS, Commerce, Economy, the State Committee for the Problems of the North; the Federal Service for Currency and Export Control and reformed Ministry for Physical Training, Sport and Tourism; the Ministry of Industry, Science and Technologies having delegated to it the functions of the abolished Ministry of Science and Technologies and also a part of the functions of the abolished Ministries for Commerce and Economy; the Federal Service of the Land-Survey having delegated to it a part of the functions of the abolished State Committee for Land Policy.
4. To delegate: to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a part of the functions of the abolished Ministry for the Affairs of CIS; to the Ministry of Culture the functions of the abolished State Committee for Cinematography; to the Ministry of Education the functions of the abolished State Committee for the Problems of Youth; to the Ministry of Natural Resources the functions of the abolished State Committee for Environmental Protection and Federal Service of Forestry; to the Transport Ministry the functions of the abolished Federal Service of Air Transport and Road Agency; to the Finance Ministry a part of the functions of the abolished Federal Service for Currency and Export Control.
5. To reform: The Ministry of State Property to the Ministry privity having delegated to it a part of the functions of the abolished State Committee for Land Policy; the Ministry of Physical Training, Sport and Tourism to the State Committee for Physical Training, Sport and Tourism; the Ministry for Affairs of the Federation and Nationalities to the Ministry for the Affairs of Federation, National and Migration Policy having delegated to it a part of the functions of the abolished Federal Migration Service and a part of the functions of the abolished State Committee for the Problems of the North; the Agriculture and Food Ministry to the Ministry for Agriculture; the Ministry of Fuel and Energy to the Ministry of Energy. The State Courier Service attached to the Government of Russia to the State Courier Service; the Federal Service for Special Building attached to the Government to the Federal Service of Special Building.
6. To determine that the Chairman of Government has 5 deputies including the Deputy Chairman of the Government - Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Chairman of the Government - Finance Minister.
7. To determine that the co-ordination of the work of the federal ministers, heads of other federal bodies of the executive authority and the control over their activity are realized by the Chairman of the Government and his deputies according to the allocation of the responsibilities between the deputies Chairman of the Government. To determine that in case the Chairman of the Government is absent temporally, the fulfilment of his responsibilities is laid upon one of his deputies according to the allocation of the responsibilities.
8. The government of Russia is to allocate the functions of the abolished federal bodies of the executive authority depending on the Clauses of the present decree within a month; to confirm the instructions about the newly formed and reformed federal bodies of the executive authority within 2 months; to confirm the ultimate number and the wage fund of the members of the central staff of the federal bodies of the executive authority within a month; to provide for the holding of the liquidation procedures and rendering the facilities and compensations to the dismissed members according to the legislation of Russia; to submit the proposals on the introduction of the corresponding alterations to the acts of the President about the federal bodies of the executive authority within a month; to bring the acts into accord with the present decree.
9. The Chief state and legal department of the President is to submit the proposals on bringing the acts of the President into accord with the present decree within 2 months.
10. The present decree comes into effect from the date of its publishing."
Putin Abolishes Russia's Lone Environmental Agency
Washington Post Foreign Service, May 23, 2000
MOSCOW, May 22 President Vladimir Putin has abolished Russia's lone agency for environmental protection, triggering protests that he has turned his back on post-Soviet Russia's bulging inventory of pollution disasters.
In a decree made public over the weekend, without elaboration, Putin wiped out the State Committee on the Environment, as well as the State Committee on Forestry. Their functions were transferred to the Ministry on Natural Resources, which licenses development of Russia's oil, natural gas and other deposits.
It was the latest signal that Putin takes a dim view of those who call attention to Russia's ecological plight. Earlier, Putin said that foreign spies use environmentalists as cover. Several leading Russian environmental activists and researchers have been targets of investigation by the security service.
Putin's decree abolishing the environmental agency was unexpected. "What can I say? We were really surprised," said Vladimir Kadochnikov, deputy chairman of the ecology committee in the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
"It was demolished," said Alexei Yablokov, who was once environmental adviser to President Boris Yeltsin and is now a leading activist. Yablokov said the decision reflects a deep-seated philosophy in the Kremlin that the environment is not important. "It's an absolutely primitive point of view," he added, "that we need to solve the economic problems and later the environment, that ecology is only for a rich country."
Yablokov and several other scientists informally gave Putin a letter in protest today at the annual meeting of the Russian Academy of Sciences. "I will think about it," Putin replied, Yablokov recalled.
The abolished agency, once a ministry, was downgraded under Yeltsin. Yablokov said it had grown "extremely weak" in recent years.
Russia's environmental troubles, which have been increasingly well documented, include radioactive contamination from Soviet-era nuclear weapons plants and submarines; high levels of lead pollution from smelters; and a host of health disasters, such as the spread of tuberculosis.
Putin's decree, made public Saturday, trimmed five state agencies, four federal ministries and three federal services in what appeared to be a budget-cutting move.
Russian environment agency abolished
Putin's move to slim down government criticised by OECD, environmental groups
ENDS Daily, May 23, 2000
Russia's last remaining national environmental protection agency has been abolished by president Vladimir Putin as part of a wide-ranging governmental shake-up. The move has been deplored not only by NGOs, but also by officials of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which recently urged Russia to strengthen its federal environmental authorities.
Mr Putin formally took office earlier this month after winning March elections and announced his new government over the weekend. Changes include an overhaul of Russia's federal system and abolition of some five state agencies, four federal ministries and three federal services, among them the State Committeefor environmental protection (SCEP).
SCEP's demise marks a second major loss of status for Russian environmental policy-making in four years - it replaced the federal environment ministry when this was abolished in 1996. Its responsibilities are now to be taken over by the ministry of natural resources, whose main role is licensing of Russia's vast fossil fuel and mineral resources.
The committee's abolition has been criticised by environmental specialists in the OECD, which last year described Russian environmental policy-making as in crisis and called for the status and responsibilities of federal environmental authorities to be enhanced (ENDS Daily 10 December 1999).
It was a "short sighted" policy, Brendan Gillespie of the OECD's environment division told ENDS Daily today, because "all our experience" suggested that pushing for economic growth first while ignoring the environment would lead to greater costs in the long run. Mr Putin "appears to be falling into the trap," said Mr Gillespie. Russia needed effective environmental institutions so that restructuring and renewed economic growth could happen in an environmentally acceptable way, he commented.
Greenpeace Russia has also expressed dismay at the development, saying yesterday that it deprived the population of "a basic right" and left the country "defenceless against the armada of industrialists and businessmen who impudently rob the country of its natural resources". The group today organised a joint press conference with the former SCEP chairman to ram home its message.