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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

Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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