Institute of Lobbying

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In the Spotlight

The Lobbying Law: the History of Rejection Print

History of the lobbying law in Russia has almost 20 years (in detail in the project of the Institute of Lobbying - «Legal Regulation of Lobbying Activity» - section «Examination»). Since 1995 the State Duma of the Russian Federation recalled the initiatives of the need to adopt such a law, so lobbying activities can finally get a specific official status and become officially controlled. The law in any form has not been accepted up to date despite numerous attempts.

We have asked famous experts and politicians to give their comments on a number of questions about the history, advantages and disadvantages, causes of the failure as well as the prospects of the lobbying law in Russia.

Alexander Chuev

Alexander Chuev, Deputy of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation of the 3d, 4th and 6th Calling, Co-author of the Bill on the Legal Framework of Lobbying Activity:

The strong point of existing bills on lobbying consisted in the introduction of the status of a lobbyist as such. In other words, lobbyist is a person who has certain rights and status, can be combined with other lobbyists in relevant organizations, actives in the interests of the organizations, structures and receives a reward for doing so. Now anyone (from a deputy to self-regulated organizations) is engaged in lobbying activity.

Weaknesses of the bill were that it did not consider all current changes in legislation, there were not spelled out the rights and obligations of the lobbyist. Perhaps, it was not clearly define the types of activities which could be held by a lobbyist, what kind of function could perform, etc.

The business community (small and medium business) primarily is interested in a similar law. Today the system of interaction between state and business is so complicated that the business is forced to spend a large amount of funds to build government relations. In this perspective, the institute of lobbying would be a perfect opportunity for such interaction. Here the extent of the authority of lobbyist’s personality, his connections and experience, would have been established its success. In fact, the lobbyist’s task is mediating between business and the authorities. The competent lobbying activity could ease the life of business. As you know, today the law on self-regulating organizations has been passed, and there are a number of organizations, which are essentially engaged in lobbying activity (Business Russia, the DSS, the CCI, etc.). At the moment deputies often have the function of lobbyists. It is subject not only to performing solutions. Many of the right decisions are not accepted today not only because of the corruption but, conditionally speaking, because the official simply does not know and does not understand what this company appealed to him is.

In the case of the civilized lobbyist, at the expense of his image and credibility he would do useful activity, becoming a link between business and the authorities. My opinion is that the deputies should carry out their activities, and companies need to lobby them not straight forward, but through clear, transparent lobbyists using an understandable and transparent system of relations. In my opinion, the adoption of the lobbying law would change the relationship between business and government for the better. I think that in this case business would long lobby many correct and useful laws. For example, we have an outdated system of tax reporting. If there was the Institute of lobbying, it would be quite possible we would have the European system of tax reporting.

Another example is the law on the transit. Only now the State Duma begins to discuss something in this issue, although it has long been clear that everything is too complicated in our country, and we are losing billions per year. Civilized and correct lobbying would lead to the law revision many years ago. It is important to note that the lobbyist is not politicized. That is, he does not participate in the interests of any political party, but he works always in the interest of business.

Undoubtedly, the lobbying law is necessary to our country. Here is an example: there is a system of public-private partnership today. This system is increasingly gaining. It is possible to work normally in such a system only if you have good feedback. And this feedback is possible only at presence of the institute of lobbying. What is the advantage of a lobbyist before the lawyers? First of all it is his professionalism and specialization. The lobbyist should have a status (similar to deputative one, for the passage, for example in the State Duma and access to other organs of state power). In addition, this status ensures transparency, showing who is engaged in lobbying and who is not.

If we talk about the content of the bill of 1995, now, in general, I would make a number of changes, namely:

— would amend taking into account the existence of a system of public-private partnership, as well as institutions of self-regulatory organizations and non-profit partnerships;

—would add the rights and duties of lobbyists, as well as I would make more specific the kind of activities in the framework of lobbying;

— clearly would state the impossibility to exercise parliamentary activities. I would contribute to the requirements of education and work experience;

— would prescribe the possibility of association of lobbyists in the organizations (union, commerce);

— clearly would prescribe tax and social relationships.

Vladimir Rimsky

Vladimir Rimsky, Head, Sociology Department, INDEM Foundation:

Formally bills on regulation of lobbying activities were rejected by the State Duma of the Russian Federation for different reasons. For example, in 1995 – in connection with absence of quorum, and in 2002 – at the stage of discussions in the committees of the RF State Duma. Actually it turns out that such bills are introduced before the State Duma by lobbyists of legal regulation of this sphere and they are not accepted by the efforts of their opponents.

Advantages of these bills are determined by the interests of their lobbyists, but these advantages, for example, the introduction of the officially registered status of a lobbyist, are the advantages only to those lobbyists. These advantages are faults for their opponents. In the current Russian situation, the introduction of legal norms of lobbying is one of the informal means of competitive activity on the uncivilized, shadow market of lobbyist services. The unsettled legally lobbying allows secretly and quiet to adopt laws, decisions of the state and municipal orders and other decisions of the authorities in the interests of narrow social groups, often only of certain corporations individuals or private businesses.

Such irregular legally lobbying promotes corruption in the authorities, in their interactions with private businesses, public and non-profit organizations. And bills on lobbyist activity, which previously were brought in the State Duma of the Russian Federation, if they were adopted, I think, would become the means of legalization of those or other corrupt relationships between lobbyists, authorities, private business, citizens and their associations.

Regulation of the lobbyist activity in developed countries with low level of corruption legislative is directed on counteraction of corruption through the use of some or other administrative and legal and organizational means of its prevention and suppression. This task is clearly not concerned in the Russian bills on lobbyist activity, and it is not dared. This is one of the most major drawbacks of such bills.

Lobbying activity in the post-soviet period in our country has been and remains non-public and very closed to all, who does not participate in decision-making in government, private business, political parties, public and non-profit organizations. In this situation one can only guess who was a lobbyist for the adoption of one or another variant of the bill on the regulation of lobbying activity. There is no publicly open information about it. In accordance with the peculiarity of decision-making in our country it could be assumed that in each case for consideration of such bills their adoption would be in the interests not necessarily of the same, even more different in each case, groups of persons. And these interests were not long-term, rather, they were designed by some short-term transactions, which would be more convenient to implement during injection of the procedures for profitable competitors’ decision-making to them. These competitors, most likely, were in informal relations with lobbyists adoption of such bills, their role and opportunities in decision-making were not publicly disclosed. None of the bills on regulation of lobbying activity was adopted in the post-soviet period in Russia, this fact likely meant that competitors of these bills lobbyists based on their short-term interests, were able to block the use against such a legislative instrument.

As a result, long-term public interests of transition to a civilized, regulated by the law norms lobbying were outstanding in our country, as well as the reducing of the corruption level in the system of decision-making in government, private business, public and nonprofit organizations. Short-term interests of powerful corporations and groups were stronger than these long-term public interests.

Under the above reasons that the bills on the regulation of lobbying activity have not been taken, the likelihood of their decision was very small every time, with every consideration in the State Duma of the Russian Federation. But, even if some of the draft laws on lobbying yet have been approved, the relations of the authorities with private business, public and non-profit organizations unlikely have not changed, and the level of corruption is unlikely to be decreased. Firstly, because all these bills were submitted to the State Duma of the Russian Federation in the interests of narrow lobby groups, their opponents either would not fulfill the provisions of such laws, or would achieve the adoption of the amendments or new laws acting in their own interests. Secondly, interests and supporters of these draft laws and their opponents are short-term, and therefore in the long run none of these bills could solve the problems of its sphere. Thirdly, corruption in bodies of the Russian authorities, in their interactions with private businesses, citizens and their associations became the de facto informal social norm in our country. These informal social norms of corruption cannot be changed by law norms.

Such change is required, as a minimum consensus of authorities, private business and citizens in a willingness to address the problems without corruption, using honest and open ways of decision and control execution of decisions which, in particular, could be the norms of a civilized lobbyism. But such a consensus in our country is not developed, there are no ideas on its formation. Forcing same or other social groups to comply with the laws to the detriment of their corruption interests in such a situation will lead, as it leads now, to a mass non-compliance with the provisions of the law, to the use of these standards in its narrow, short-term interests to the detriment of public and state ones. Therefore, in our country the goals of civilized lobbyism can not be achieved only by the introduction of his legislative regulation.

Understanding lobbyism as a set of norms regulating the interaction of citizens, public and non-profit organizations, private business and other subjects of legal relations, specializing in joint with state authorities and local self-government activities to influence adoption and promotion of necessary solutions, such lobbying is desirable to legalize in our country. Otherwise unlegalized lobbying activity, especially in conditions of actual absence of common for our society moral norms and rules, will be an activity on the verge of corruption or directly corrupted to ensure the decision-making authorities - in narrow personal interests, private businesses – in corporate interests, public and non-profit organizations - in their own interests diverging with public and government.

According to the legal position the Constitution of the Russian Federation in Articles 32 and 33 contains principles of legal regulation of citizens’ participation in managing the affairs of the state, the individual and collective citizens’ appeals in bodies of state power and local self-government. These are the key legal provisions allowing to build up a complete system of legal regulation of lobbying activity. But the law is to work in the system of many other laws, in particular on combating corruption, where nothing is said on lobbying now, about the appeals of citizens to the authorities, on public control of the activity of authorities. Besides, it is necessary sub-legal regulatory acts, defining, in particular, principles and methods of registration of lobbyists, measures of openness and civilian control of their activity. Until no one in our country develops such a complex of laws and regulations. But outside of their context, even the adopted law on the regulation of lobbying activities will contribute rather to the legalization of corrupt transactions in decision-making by the authorities, than to fight corruption and to ensure observance of the citizens’ rights, public and state interests in the adoption and execution of decisions by them.

The law on regulation of lobbying activity is not advantageous to authorities and private business in the modern Russian situation, as the public and legal procedures of formation and decision-making in their interactions are disadvantageous to them. The reason is that now the use of corrupt and exclusive government relationships and private businesses gives the benefit to both of them. Private business has a competitive advantage in the markets, and the authorities - over competitors for access and distribution of funds of the state budget. Such align of the interests of the authorities and private businesses in preventing regulation of the lobbyist activity of the law norms defines their mutual unwillingness to produce the consent of the legal norms in this area and adoption of the relevant law.

We can hardly expect that the adoption of the law on regulation of lobbying in the above situation will lead to the fact that the authorities and private business will be profitable to comply with its provisions. None of the provisions of this law will act without such benefits in accordance with the objectives of the introduction in our country of the civilized lobbying based on the norms of the law. Therefore, changes in the already developed bills on regulation of lobbying activity can’t help to increase the chances of adoption of one or another of them.

First of all it is necessary in the discussions of representatives of public authorities, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, various social groups and experts to develop a consensus on the implementation of civilized lobbying in our country beneficial to the majority of our society, the majority of those who have participated in these discussions. These consensus statements should be arranged the wording of the provisions of the bill on regulation of lobbying activities. In such a case consensuses are needed to form by the norms of this bill, but not compromises, which very soon will cease to suit everyone, who was being persuaded to such compromises. In fact, compromises always constitute a waiver from some or other of his/her rights or interests, at least partially. Building the legislative regulation of the lobbying activity on the basis of consensus, it will remain quite reasonable hope that all participants in these consensuses will abide by them. It seems that in our country, it is possible way to civilized lobbying based on the respect of the law rules.

Igor Mintusov

Igor Mintusov, Chairman of the Board of Directors, "Niccolo M” Center of Political Consulting:

The law was not passed because it was weak or strong, but it was not adopted due to political reasons. The main reason was the following: there was no consensus on its adoption among politicians. And major groups shaping the future of the bill, were not interested in its decision. In particular, it was not necessary to representatives of the executive branch, because they found the opportunity to lobby the bills directly. We will not discuss the situation, that part of the laws is being lobbied, proceeding from the challenges of the heads of executive authorities, and part is being lobbied due to corruption.

One should not overestimate the role and significance of the law. Even if it was adopted at that time, it would not be fatal in relations between business and the authorities, as there are a lot of cuts (taxes, investment policy, etc). So for example: either the region has the investment climate or it has not, and this fact was associated with the lobbying law not enough. However, it is important component of this process. And first of all the lobbying law is needed not to the government or business. It is very important and necessary for the society, because the society wants to know what kind of activity it is that offers by the business in relation to legislative and executive authorities, which is not regulated by any law. Whether taxes are paid from these money, etc. The last initiator of the law was Dmitry Medvedev, who several years ago initiated the re-training of such a law, but his development was entrusted to the RSPP, which itself has long been the chief lobbyist of the Russian business. RSPP has created limited expert communities, which as a result let this issue drop.

I think that the lobbying law is needed. It legalizes lobbying activity. The incorrupted part of the executive, legislature and a business that wants to play by fair rules, is interested in it, and therefore is ready for its appearing. To my mind, such a law should be taken to the public discussions. The corrupted part of the executive, legislature and business is interested, first of all, in rejection of this law. And I would say that in case of consideration of the bill on lobbying, we need to focus this. So society can understand - the attempts to prevent the adoption of the law are connected, first of all, with the desire to save all in the shade.


Relevant Comments
About the lobbyist’s rating
To answer if the current officials could be called lobbyists I can say “yes, they could in practice, but they couldn’t in theory”.
If a person, holding the government position, only lobbies interests of his department, he just does good job.
On the Lobbying law
In the case of the civilized lobbyist, at the expense of his image and credibility he would do useful activity, becoming a link between business and the authorities. My opinion is that the deputies should carry out their activities, and companies need to lobby them not straight forward, but through clear, transparent lobbyists using an understandable and transparent system of relations.
On Utilization Fee
I think, that there is no a real dialogue between Russia and the EU. It is a one-way street, where Russia has to go over and over again to the oncoming lane and defend its interests. However, these interests are distributed mainly on promotion on European markets of Russian hydrocarbons and metals.
On Anti-Tobacco Law
Due to powerful positions of tobacconists in the State Duma and President’s administration they could seriously dilute the bill later. Besides that, the tobacconists skillfully used the displeasure with the bill of other departments and business associations upon which corporate interests it infringed

All comments


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