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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ministries Vie for E-Russia Control

Just months before the federal government's much-hyped "Electronic Russia" program swings into action, its main initiators ? the Communications Ministry and the Economic Development and Trade Ministry ? still haven't decided who's in charge.

Communications Minister Leonid Reiman sent a letter to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry on Aug. 24 requesting his ministry chair the interagency commission that will oversee the realization of E-Russia, a $2.6 billion program to boost e-commerce and the Internet that is set to start in January and run through 2010.

This would give Reiman's ministry more control over the purse strings, starting with the 350 million rubles ($11.9 million) allotted the program in the budget plan submitted to the State Duma last week.

But the economics ministry thinks it is better suited to head the commission ? with day-to-day operational control left up to the Communications Ministry.

"There was an agreement between the ministries that [Economic Development and Trade Minister German] Gref would be in charge of the coordinating commission, but now the Communications Ministry thinks otherwise," said Tseren Tserenov, in charge of E-Russia for the economics ministry, the program's main author.

"It's not a fight," said Tserenov. "We just think we could do a better job overseeing this project because the new economy doesn't just mean getting the Internet to people, but a change in lifestyle and the way government works."

The Communications Ministry's spokesman Sergei Grigorenko said the Aug. 24 letter was simply a single step along an ongoing compromise process between the ministries. "All matters of disagreement have been decided," he said Friday. "The program will be realized by several agencies. The Communications Ministry will coordinate them."

Tserenov said Sunday they had received only one notice and that Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov would likely make a final decision in a few days on who would end up in charge of the commission.

At a Cabinet meeting on July 5, ministers approved the program, appointing the Communications Ministry as "coordinator" at Gref's request, Tserenov said. In E-Russia documents, the economics ministry still appears as the government body responsible for developing and commissioning the program.

Half of E-Russia's financing will come from the federal budget and a third will be provided by regional administrations. The amount allocated in the 2002 draft budget is almost 10 times less than originally proposed, though Tserenov said they could expect larger tranches in the future if E-Russia proves successful.