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Duma plans to rewrite ‘Dima Yakovlev law’

July 16, 2013, 13:17 UTC+3
“The Dima Yakovlev law,” named in memory of a two-year old Russian child who died through the fault of his adoptive American father, was adopted in late December 2012
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During the autumn session members of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) intend to close the gaps in the so-called “Dima Yakovlev law” due to which mixed Russian-American couples cannot adopt Russian orphans, several members of the United Russia party of the Duma Committee on Family and Children told the Izvestia newspaper.

“The law currently does not stipulate such situations. During the autumn session we will think over how to legally regulate the situation in mixed marriages where the spouses live abroad, the wife is a Russian citizen and they want to adopt children,” deputy head of the committee Irina Sokolova said.

A member of a group of independent MPs, Igor Zotov, supported the idea and said that after the recess he would hold corresponding consultations with the Duma colleagues and submit an amendment to the “Dima Yakovlev law.” “This category of couples may be allowed the adoption of children, it is quite possible. The main thing is to prevent abuse of our Russian children. It will be necessary to check the moral quality of perspective adoptive parents, the living conditions they offer the child,” he explained.

“The Dima Yakovlev law,” named in memory of a two-year old Russian child who died through the fault of his adoptive American father, was adopted by the State Duma and approved by the Federation Council upper house in late December 2012. Then the Russian parliamentarians who were in a hurry to respond to the US Magnitsky Act imposed a ban on the adoption of Russian children from orphanages by Americans.

Deputy Head of the State Duma Committee on Labour and Social Policy Yelena Afanasyeva (Liberal Democratic Party - LDPR) believes that it is necessary to allow the adoption of children by mixed families, only if the child retains Russian citizenship. “It is necessary to take into consideration the desire of one of the parents. However, at the same time the child must remain a Russian citizen, so that until the age of 18 Russia could help its children. It will be difficult, but this legal possibility should be provided,” she said.

The Communist Party (CPRF) is also ready to support the initiative.

Representatives of non-governmental organisations have approved the idea of the parliamentarians. Leader of the human rights movement Resistance Olga Kostina is certain that the “Dima Yakovlev law” will yet be changed not once.

Director General of the Centre for Political Information Alexei Mukhin believes that the first version of the “Dima Yakovlev law” was adopted by the parliamentarians in the heat of the moment. “The law is crude; it was adopted on the basis of political considerations. It is quite obvious that it will be further refined, so as not to infringe upon the rights of the people, for example, mixed couples,” he said.


Natural monopolies and trade lobby prevent improving citizens' living standarts

The country’s population is complaining about the housing and public utilities problems, inflation, low living standards, corruption, red tape, underdeveloped healthcare services, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily cites on Tuesday the results of a survey conducted by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM).

Prices of some food products have increased by 30-40 percent or more over the past year. Vegetables and fruits in the WTO conditions have become even more expensive. Imports are becoming more expensive due to the authorities’ course for the weakening of the rouble. Despite government regulation, the pharmaceuticals’ prices are also rising - by 50 percent, the newspaper notes.

According to the survey results, 55 percent of those polled by VCIOM complained about the unsatisfactory situation in the housing and public utilities sector, 47 percent complained about inflation, 46 percent - about the low standard of living, 44 percent - about corruption and red tape, 43 percent - about problems in the healthcare sector.

The authorities hope that inflation in 2013 will remain within the forecast limits - 5.6 percent. However, in June the official annual inflation rate approached the level of 7 percent.

Interviewed by the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper experts drew the attention to the fact that the average official rate of inflation, as a rule, considerably differs from the real increase in prices and the population’s attitude to price hikes. “The basket of goods and services that is taken into account by the official statistics has long become irrelevant and caries no information about the real state of affairs. The real price increases, as a rule, are two to three times higher than the officially recognised,” Senior Analyst with the Solid company Artur Akhmetov said. According to Akhmetov, in the sphere of services the largest growth of process has happened in the housing and public utilities and education sectors.

“It is believed that the real inflation rate stands at about 20 percent per year for people with low incomes, while for others it is basically the same as the official annual rates,” 6-7 percent,” Deputy Director of the analytical department of the Alpari company Darya Zhelannova indicates.

“In our country, inflation is inevitably tied to the increase in the prices of housing and utilities services and tariffs of natural monopolies,” Director General of FinEkspertiza Agvan Mikaelyan says. “They are followed by growth in industrial production and transportation services prices, as well as rent, which cannot but cause the growth of prices of virtually the entire range of consumer services and goods.”

Another important factor that is pushing up prices is the WTO. “The WTO accession has certainly affected the price change. As expected, agricultural products’ prices have grown, and this is most noticeable. There is no promised decrease in prices for some goods,” Director General of City Express Alexei Kichatov says. “And the authorities have earlier promised the population that prices would drop thanks to the accession to the organisation. It is noteworthy that the expectations failed not only regarding the WTO, but also the state regulation of prices for medicines. “Effective medicines are still unavailable for most Russians,” Kichatov explains.

Most of the interviewed experts made it clear that far from always everything possible to fight inflation is done. The government has to constantly make compromises with natural monopolies, with utility companies, also with the trade lobby and so on, the newspaper says.

“The prices of imported products, including food and pharmaceuticals, will be growing due to the policy for the weakening of the rouble,” Zhelannova explains. “This process can be stopped only by changing the policy course and the strengthening of the Russian currency.” “The general line towards the gradual weakening of the rouble was defined clearly enough,” Director of the audit department of the Ural Union consulting group Alexander Mironov agrees. “Its implementation will result in higher prices for imported food, which plays an important role in the food basket of the population.” “The trend for Gazprom’s reorientation towards the domestic market because of the decline in exports will cause an increase in domestic natural gas prices for industrial consumers that will shuffle off the burden on the population,” adds Mironov. “The price rises can be stopped, but decisions at the federal level are needed for this,” Akhmetov says. “For example, the setting of the maximum retail mark-up and mediators control.”

Experts divided into optimists and pessimists. “Inflation may slow down in the near future, even despite the rise in prices and tariffs of natural monopolies. The reason is the projected reduction in fruit and vegetables prices, owing to the relatively favourable crop forecast for the current season,” head of the macroeconomics department at the Petrocommerce Bank Dmitry Kharlampiyev is certain.

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