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Regional ministers fired for high public utility tariffs

February 28, 2013, 11:42 UTC+3
The resignation of Petersburg deputy governor Sergei Kozyrev was the latest high-profile scandal in the city administration
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The resignation of Petersburg deputy governor Sergei Kozyrev was the latest high-profile scandal in the city administration. Kozyrev was relieved of his duties together with other public utilities supervisors in other regions, following criticism by President Vladimir Putin. It is the first time a deputy of governor Georgy Poltavchenko was fired. Experts said some of these officials were top professionals. In actual fact, the dismissed were the scapegoats, because it is Cabinet officials who deserve to be fired for high tariffs.

The governors made decisions to fire public utility supervises in the Murmansk region, the Altai Territory and St Petersburg after a conference at which the president severely criticized the increases in the tariffs of public utility services.

Unlike Murmansk and Altai, where ministers Yuri Sorokin and Gennady Mikichura were relieved of their duties, St Petersburg dismissed a key official - deputy governor Sergei Kosyrev, who was in charge of the housing and public utilities sector, the fuel and energy sector and road construction.

The Petersburg parliament did not support the governor’s decision to fire Kozyrev. Speaker Vyacheslav Makarov /United Russia Party/ said he "regretted" the stepping down of the competent deputy governor. A Just Russia member Alexei Kovalyov called the Petersburg reshuffle "administrative leapfrog."

The newspaper reminds that at the conference over tariffs in the public utilities sector, Putin's adviser Elvira Nabiullina showed him a bill to be paid for a Petersburg apartment, where the tariff had increased by 230 percent. Similar increases were reported in the Murmansk region and the Republic of Altai.

The next day, Murmansk region's minister of power generation and housing and public utilities Gennady Mikichura stepped down. The Republic of Altai's regional development minister Yuri Sorokin was dismissed as well.

Petersburg legislator Boris Vishnevsky, who represents the Yabloko Party, does not think that Kozyrev should be blamed for high tariffs. The true reason is the rash resolution by the Russian government, which changed the calculation mechanism. "Kozyrev was made a scapegoat, in order to quickly report to Putin on the measures taken," Vishnevsky said.

He believes Kozyrev is a very competent professional. "He tried to restore order in winter cleanup works, took a very tough stance to preserve planted land and was capable of listening to different points of view and understanding them," the legislator said.

"The resignation is the traditional form of reaction to criticism by the leaders," political scientist Mikhail Vinogradov said, "it's easier to state that negligent and venal officials are guilty of tariff hikes, and overshadow other reasons behind the increase, such as gas prices."

In his opinion, these measures allow for making part of the population believe that the situation in this area will improve.

The president's ire regarding high housing and public utilities tariffs resulted in resignations of regional officials, but did not decrease the tariffs, the Novye Izvestia underlined. The society has been watching resignations, but has not seen the repayment of their money or a decrease in tariffs.

 

 

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