bne: Putin’s May Decrees and the 12 “national projects” take shape, but lacunae remain

This article was published by bne IntelliNews on January 27th, 2019.

By Fabrice Deprez in Kyiv January 24, 2019

Since he was elected for a fourth term in May 2018, Russian president Vladimir Putin has tried to show he was serious about rubbish. The issue has rocked Russian politics for nearly two years now, as exasperated locals in the Moscow region started in the summer of 2017 to protest against toxic vapours emanating from nearby landfills.

In January 2019, Putin announced the creation of a national rubbish monopoly tasked with coordinating investments to modernize waste collection systems across the country. This wasn’t his first stab at the issue however: a year ago, he had already demanded the government to put together a strategy to “eliminate all unauthorized dumps” and create “an integrated system for the treatment of solid municipal waste” as part of the “May Decrees.”

These decrees are a series of objectives for the next six years, and have been published since 2012, but this time they were divided into 12 “national projects” with the aim of modernizing and revitalizing the Russian economy and society. The details are still being worked out and many questions remain. Many of the “plans” are no more than bullet points and the source of funds for billions of dollars of investment remain vague in many sections.

One key point is that these national projects as they are described in the decree are not actual, specific projects. Rather, the decree sets up a list of priority sectors in which investment should be made (demography, healthcare, education, living conditions, ecology, roads, labour productivity, science, digital economy, culture, small business and international cooperation) but doesn’t specify what exactly should be done or how much money should be invested (a recap of the 12 national projects as they appear in the May decree is included at the end of this article).

The wording of the decree did show a shift in the government’s priorities, from social policies and the military in 2012 to infrastructure, healthcare and digital issues in 2018. Some national projects such as labour productivity or small businesses were not mentioned in the 2012 decrees, but the most striking difference is probably the fact that any mention of the military or the defence sector are entirely absent from the May 2018 Decree. (There’s a single exception, a reference to the military-industrial complex in the “ecology” section: “improving the quality of drinking water through the modernization of water supply systems using water treatment technologies, including technologies developed by organizations of the military-industrial complex.”)

You can read the rest on the website of bne IntelliNews.

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