Picketing under the slogan “Big Support to Small Business!” has taken place by the Economic Ministry building at Triumfalnaya Square today, on Russia’s Entrepreneur Day. Associations of entrepreneurs from Moscow, Oryol, Voronezh, Lipetsk and Tula participated in the action organised by YABLOKO.
“We are having a holiday today, however, we are not rejoicing or making a festivity,” said YABLOKO’s leader Sergei Mitrokhin at the opening of the action. According to Mitorkhin “small and medium-scale businesses are discriminated by the federal and regional laws, and while we can observe expansion of large retail networks, entrepreneurs fell victims to hostile raiders, but state agencies are engaged in lobbying and legalised extortions from small businesses,” said Mitrokhin.
He also stressed that “it is impossible to build a modern economy on monopoly, networks and clans providing preferences to their “friendly” structures while spurning and suppressing the other.” “The economic modernisation our President has recently spoken about can not be reached by means of creation of another state corporation. A modern economy is impossible without fully-fledged small businesses.”
Chair of Russia’s Trade Union of Medium and Small Business Workers Alexander Popov agreed with Mitrokhin and indicated that the government “does not go beyond talks about the need to support businesses.” “At present 11 federal ministries and 15 federal agencies are engaged in support of small business. However, too many cooks spoil the broth, and 26 cooks can not make a broth at all,” he added.
According to Ilya Khandrikov, one of the leaders of the For the Fair Market movement, “Russia has split into two parts: there are “friendly” entrepreneurs and all the other entrepreneurs.” He also said that the government reports of creating favourable conditions for the business. “This is a lie. That is we are standing below the windows of their Ministry for Economic Development now.”
Andrei Kondrakhin, a medical centre owner, shared his problems. A large old clinic (created in 1994) is ousted out of the premises merely because a bureaucrat Grankin wrote “not sensible” on the letter asking for prolongation of the lease of the premises. “A medical centre is a unique business which can not be easily moved, consequently, this business will have to close,” said Kondrakhin.
Tatyana Rtischeva, leader of non-profit partnership Legal Protection for Entrepreneurs said that businessmen were to blame for such a situation. “When in the middle of 1990s there emerged prerequisites for development of a state policy [in this field], small business decided to rely on a bit of luck in a Russian manner hoping that a new president would come and everything would be fine.” This did not happen. Rtischeva called businessmen to take care of their future and future of their children.
According to many speakers, Russia do have a party protecting the rights and interests of small business. This party is YABLOKO. Thus, the leader of an initiative group joining together 50 companies, Stanislav Minayev, told that on the request of the leader of the YABLOKO party Sergei Mitrokhin the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service ordered that bureaucrats should prolong the rent contracts for the companies leasing premises at Tushinskaya Square instead of granting these premises to a large-scale developer without any auction under another retail network.
Minayev also called the leaders of the country not to be lulled by the bureaucrats’ reports on their successful support of small business, but to create a federal anti-corruption agency.
An unexpected guest of the action was Natalya Komkova, owner of the Public Amenities Centre, Moscow, who made a salutatory speech on behalf of businessmen–members of the United Russia party. She suggested that YABLOKO deputies should join deputies from the United Russia. “Only in this case something will change,” she said.
Sergei Mitrokhin reiterated that last year one of the leaders of the United Russia party and owner of the “Seventh Continent” retail network Vladimir Gruzdev cleared 64,000 sq. meters off any small businesses. Even businessmen from United Russia found their companies ousted from their premises, but no one listened to their complaints.
“United Russia has two social props – bureaucrats and large oligarchic capital. It is senseless to ask them for charity. We should join together and broaden our ranks, only then the authorities will take your opinion into account,” said Mitrokhin.
“We shall continue fighting for small business and Russia’s freedom from corruption and oligarchs,” he said closing the meeting.
Small business will defend its rights on the Entrepreneur Day. Press Release. May 25, 2009.
Development of small-scale business