Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Putin orders governors to slash PR budgets

Published time: January 20, 2014 10:57
Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Mihail Metzel)

Russian President Vladimir Putin (RIA Novosti / Mihail Metzel)

The Russian president has recommended officials ‘optimize’ the funds allocated for press coverage of their work after mass media uncovered unprecedented growth in such spending in regional budgets.

The presidential order to optimize PR budgets must be fulfilled before February 1, reads the document published on the official Kremlin website. The Finance Ministry was made responsible for overseeing the process.

Putin’s order came after a whole series of controversies emerged a short time after a scandal in the central Russian Saratov Region. In December last year, the pro-Putin political movement United People’s Front officially complained to the president that the governor of the remote Far East province of Sakhalin planned to spend 680 million rubles (over $20 million) of budget funds on “improving his image” in just three years.

Putin expressed surprise over the news, but the Sakhalin public servants quickly justified the move, explaining that the huge sum was to be spent on “improvement of the state governing system” as a whole and actual “reporting on the activities of state power bodies” only required 50 million rubles (about $1.5 million).

Still, after the United People’s Front’s move the problem has come to the attention of both the authorities - who are currently looking for any opportunity to cut expenditures in the face of a looming budget deficit - and the media.

The head of the presidential administration, Sergey Ivanov, has called for regional officials to stop “fooling the people” by reporting about all governors’ actions and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has urged greater independence for regional mass media, including the switch from budget financing to self-accounting.

Popular internet news site Slon.ru has published a research report made by an expert of the Fiscal Politics Center, who claimed that although the expenditures on mass media amounted to about 1 or 2 percent of the regional budgets, they continued to grow even when budgetary income began to decrease – sometimes several-fold, such as in the Sverdlovsk Region (264 percent growth in 2013 compared to 2012) and in the Astrakhan Region (528 percent).

Such a trend can be explained, at least in part, by the political reform of 2013 that reinstated direct elections for heads of federation subjects, who were previously appointed by the president and only required formal approval from regional legislatures.

Federal parliamentarians and top officials have claimed that the changes would give more legitimacy to regional leaders and also give the political system a new impetus for development.

The first nationwide election day under the new rules took place on September 8, 2013.

Comments (6)

 

Freesaxon 22.01.2014 10:20

$20 million !
Its a good job Mr.Putin stepped in to act on that one.
In this case it’s a simple `self promotion exercise that was nipped in the bud.
This sort of thing is a regular occurrence here in the West, with the exception no action is taken, just the budget increased

 

Freesaxon 22.01.2014 09:09

BIG-ONE5 21.01.2014 09:06,

Some VERY good points, about Russias shrinking population.
You finish by mentioning orphans, agreed, they shouldn't leave Russia

 

Kaela Creighton 22.01.2014 01:11

I know that you're immune to it, Putin, but you have to know what that does to our minds. It's like being brainless. What I thought was really wrong and corrupt was when they turned my world against me. You do not smile at my death! It's horrible because they incite us when they do that, and I get aggressive, which is not in my nature really. I react sometimes. I usually start attacking you or Campbell.

View all comments (6)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us