Lawyers undecided on need for business commissioner
“Russia will have a commissioner to protect the rights of all businessmen – not only foreign investors,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said this week at the Russia-2012 forum. “The commissioner will be given a special procedural status.”
The commissioner will be entitled to represent businessmen in court, consider their complaints and submit proposals to the authorities. He will also be able to suspend departmental regulations until the court delivers its judgment and to request the court to postpone officials’ actions.
However, despite its supposed aim is to protect private capital, the initiative could produce side effects and overcomplicate the administrative system, lawyers told the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
Attorneys Igor Trunov and Yuri Shmidt believe that legislation in force and administrative levers are quite satisfactory to protect businesses.
Shmidt, a lawyer for former YUKOS CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, called Putin’s initiative interesting but excessive, as applicable legislation already provides the means for resolving business issues. Meanwhile, he added that “it is frightening when the authorities multiply the number of officials and create ever new bureaucratic institutions” that are not engaged in practical decision-making.
“A lot will depend on what the regulation will provide for and what kind of person will hold the position,” Shmidt said. “If such a person is capable of expressing his opinion without consulting the government, then this will be helpful, although such problems can already be resolved under the present system.”
Trunov is doubtful about the efficiency of the measures proposed by Putin.
“An additional lever will not be out of place, but I doubt that it will be sufficiently effective. The problem is the absence of a real division of powers, although an independent court and a free parliament would solve everything,” he said.
He is also apprehensive that the commissioner will be a pro forma position.
Attorney Vadim Kobzev sees the prime minister’s initiative as an extension of his “manual control” policy.
“To make life easier for businesses, laws should be changed. An independent court is needed to defend businesses,” Kobzev said, adding that “there are various commissioners in Russia already, but they are invisible and silent.”
Oksana Mikhalkina is sure that the new commissioner will be the “most corrupt official in Russian political history.” In her opinion, the existing judicial authorities suffice to protect businesses and to settle their problems.
“The opportunity to only address this person will cost 1 million euro. This initiative aims to maintain the uninterrupted operation of own, - quite clearly - very big businesses,” the attorney said.
Nina Yeryomenko also thinks current legislation already has “all the components to defend businesses.”