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News Alert

April 2004
Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources Restructured and Under New Leadership

On March 9, 2004, President Vladimir Putin announced his new Cabinet of Ministers. This announcement came 2 weeks after his decision to dissolve his previous Cabinet, and just five days before the country’s Presidential Elections, which Putin won handily, with 71.2 percent of the vote.

To the post of Minister for Natural Resources, Putin appointed a figure unfamiliar to those in Russia’s conservation community, Yuri Petrovich Trutnev. Trutnev previously served as the Governor of Permskaya Oblast, before which he was Mayor of Perm and a member of the Perm City Duma. His past experience working explicitly in the field of natural resource management or utilization is limited to several years spent working for various oil extraction companies in the Perm region.

In addition to naming new Ministerial appointments, Putin also announced a change in the structure of the executive branch. The new Russian Cabinet will have three levels -- Ministries, Federal Services, and Federal Agencies -- and there will be only seventeen Ministers, whereas the previous Cabinet had thirty. Within the new structure, the following federal organs will be carrying out activities in the sphere of ecology and nature use: the Federal Agency for Forestry, the Federal Agency for Water Resources, the Federal Agency for Mineral Use, and the Federal Service for the Supervision of Ecology and Nature Use. These organs will all fall within the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Within the new structure of the “natural resources block” of the executive branch, responsibility for management of the federal system of protected nature areas remains unclear. Although the regulations governing the Federal Service for the Supervision of Ecology and Nature Use stipulate that the protected areas falls within its authority, the Service, as an organ, is not invested with the capacities to adequately manage all aspects of the system. In fact, none of the organs within the current structure of the “natural resources block” of the executive government are.
According to the March 9 presidential order, which recast the structure of the federal organs of the executive branch, each federal organ type is uniformly and rigidly limited in its functions and capacities. “Services” lack the capacity to manage property and to provide paid service, while “Agencies” are not ascribed with control and protection functions. Management of the protected area system combines all these functions, and thus simply cannot be accommodated within the current structure.

Fearing the implications of this, which could be especially devastating for the system in light of recent modifications to Russia’s Land and Forest Codes, leaders in the Russian conservation community are actively advocating for the creation of a specialized Agency for Strictly Protected Nature Areas.

By Melissa Mooza for Russian Conservation News

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