ROAR: “President’s surprise for non-profit organizations”

Vladimir Kremlev for RT
New approaches of the state in different spheres should help the chief task of modernizing the country, analysts say, commenting on the president’s address to the parliament.

Dmitry Medvedev’s second address to the Federal Assembly has become the longest in Russia’s history, Kommersant daily wrote. It lasted 100 minutes and contained 9548 words. The most often used words were “necessary, must, future, we, new, development, technologies and law,” the paper said. The president mentioned Russia 60 times, Europe – four times, the US and China – one time.

Medvedev stressed the need for modernization, adding that it is a question of Russia’s survival in the modern world.

The key moment of the presidential address was the statements about “the application of modern technologies in different spheres of life,” Oksana Goncharenko from the Center for Political Conjuncture said.

Moreover, the technologies should be produced in the country, and “that means increasing the competitiveness of the Russian economy in general,” she added. However, Medvedev made it clear that technological modernization has no sense without investment into human capital, Goncharenko added.

One should not have expected “any breakthroughs from the president,” Vedomosti daily said. “The steps that have been proposed are disproportionate to the problems of the country, but this is what the president can do now,” the paper said.

It would be more appropriate to concentrate on one idea, because “its realization would demonstrate the seriousness of the intentions and could help to create in society the atmosphere of trust,” the paper said.

At the same time, even to solve the problems of technical modernization, “It is necessary to change general conditions, including reforms of political, public and economic institutions,” the paper said.

Medvedev “almost avoided” speaking about taxes for businesses, Kommersant daily noted. But the head of state promised tax cuts to charitable and non-profit organizations. Exempt from VAT, their services will be able to provide support and care for patients, the disabled, the elderly and orphans. There will be no profit tax from grants to develop healthcare and sports.

“The address has become a pleasant surprise for non-profit organizations,” Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily said. The president declared “a tax revolution for them,” the daily added. “The draft bill may be submitted to the State Duma and adopted by the end of the year,” the paper said.

It may be easier to be involved in charitable activities in Russia after the president promised that “socially oriented non-profit organizations may rely on the state’s direct support,” Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said.

Member of the Public Chamber Iosif Diskin said that, in exchange for tax cuts non-profit, organizations will have “to submit strict accounts and to be transparent.” Thus, these organizations should choose “the Western model of work,” he told the daily. According to this model, observing councils rather than the management determines financing, salaries or bonuses, he said.

Medvedev’s proposals to support socially oriented non-profit organizations are “the beginning of the efforts to create a network of partnership between the state and such organizations all over the country,” first deputy head of the presidential administration Vladislav Surkov said.

It will be a state policy “rather than an experiment” and the partnership between the state and non-profit organizations that support children, orphans, the disabled and those promoting sports programs, Surkov was quoted as saying by Regnum news agency.

The president has a special approach to the non-profit sector, believes Dmitry Orlov, general director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications. It is clear that now there will be less conflicts [between the state and these organizations], he told Vesti FM radio.

Ella Pamfilova, chairwoman of the presidential Council on Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights, also said that Medvedev mentioned a lot of things that she and her colleagues had suggested. The main thing now is what could really be done, she believes.

The president’s statements about non-profit organizations and civil society “is a positive step,” Pamfilova told Novaya Gazeta. “Charity, the development of the volunteer movement, is a good thing, but this work should not depend on officials, as well as on budget funds," she said.

“If the state is ready to invest into charity, another problem arises – transparency,” Pamfilova said. “Without it, there will be another source for corruption.”

In addition, equal conditions for the self-organization of citizens should be created in all spheres of life, she said. Another question is about the fate of human rights organizations “if the state intends to help only charities,” Pamfilova said.

Vedomosti daily also stressed the fact that only “socially-oriented non-profit organizations” could rely on the state’s support. It is not easy to get the status of such an organization, the paper said. “All charitable donations” should be exempt from taxes, the daily noted.

Analysts also note that Medvedev’s proposals in the political sphere and foreign policy should contribute to the country’s modernization.

“The president has called for liberalization of the political system, under which it should be stable and manageable,” Aleksey Makarkin of the Center for Political Technologies said. For Medvedev, “stability is a fairly high value,” he added. Possible changes in the electoral process could be part of this system, the analyst told Vremya Novostey daily.

Foreign policy was not in the center of Medvedev’s address, said Fedor Lukyanov, editor-in-chief of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs. The president noted that no country “should be blamed for Russia’s problems, they are all internal,” Lukyanov told Novaya Gazeta daily.

The analyst described Medvedev’s proposal to introduce the methods of assessing foreign policy as “a new approach” that should help to find how this policy “serves the goals of modernization.”

Dmitry Orlov, general director of the Agency of Political and Economic Communications believes that assessing the results of foreign policy from the point of view of the investment climate in Russia is very important. Such an approach is “a real and concrete instrument to determine the effectiveness of policy,” he told Vesti FM radio.

The basic concept of Russian foreign policy is building a new architecture of the European security, Evgenia Voyko of the Center of Political Conjuncture said. However, Moscow will also step up work on different directions of foreign policy in the interests of the economy and top companies, the analyst noted.

Foreign policy that helps to modernize the country is a principal difference of the latest Medvedev statements from the address that he delivered a year ago, Voyko said. Now the progress on regional security “should be conducted along with modernization and technological breakthroughs,” she added.

Sergey Borisov, RT