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Small Businessmen Burdened by Petty Bureaucracy

Published: September 18, 2013 (Issue # 1778)



  • For dentist Emelyanov, Russias economy is being held back by its rules and regulations.
    Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

MOSCOW (AP) Dentist Sergei Emelyanov is being smothered in Russias red tape.

Every day, Emelyanov and his staff have to take time out from tending patients to fill out official logbooks on health and hygiene. Its repetitive and pointless work but required by law and vital if Emelyanov, who has co-owned his Moscow clinic since 1992, wants to avoid a hefty arbitrary fine from inspectors.

Along with many of the small struggling businesses in Russia, Emelyanov knows this comes with the territory.

Regulatory authorities, armed with current rules and regulations, are free to do whatever they want with us, he said. Every inspecting body is tailored to levy fines from businesses. Even if you abide by all the rules, they will always find something to fine you for.

There are growing concerns that Russias burdensome bureaucracy and corruption are holding back the countrys economy, which has become increasingly reliant on massive oil and mining companies.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Russia is the worlds eighth-largest economy just behind Brazil with an annual gross domestic product of some $2 trillion. While it exports a large part of Europes and Asias energy needs, it also helps fill in the order books of companies across the globe.

However, the countrys economic growth has been on a downward path since the start of last year. The Economic Development ministry estimates it will only be 1.8 percent this year the slowest rate since 1999. Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev has also warned of the risk of recession.

With Russian oil and gas exports slowing, the best hope lies with small and medium-sized businesses, Ulyukayev said in an interview with the Kommersant business daily last month. Russian exports can no longer be the key driver of economic growth, he said.

But businessmen like Emelyanov claim the government isnt backing its words with action.

When President Vladimir Putin was campaigning to win his third term as president in 2012, one of his promises was to increase the pay and benefits of state employees who make up to 40 percent of Russias total workforce. Soldiers saw their pay more than double last year, while teachers got a 14 percent raise. While this lavish spending has improved the lives of millions of Russians, it has put a strain on the countrys budget.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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