Figures of the budget show what the state really considers its priorities.

There is more to the draft budget than finances alone. Its figures disclose what the state regards as priorities and what clout officials really wield.

Almost 9 billion rubles are set aside for performance of his duties by the president – much more than is given to the government (3.8 billion rubles only). By and large, however, total costs of the president and his administration are almost 800 million rubles below the pre-crisis level (fact is, they equal what was spent on them in 2008). The Cabinet in the meantime will receive only 15 million rubles less than what was planned in November and 40% more than was given it in 2008. (The parliamentary costs were sequestered to an even larger degree.)

A few words on priorities in the spheres of defense and security now. Military costs will be down 77 billion rubles or 8% (still, 11% more than the 2008 costs). Maintenance of the Border Service will be down 13%. The prosecutor’s office is better off because its budget will be down only 2% (or 25% more than in 2008). The Investigation Committee is permitted to hire new personnel by January 2010. Budget of the Federal Security Service will be 3% below that was initially planned, budgets of the police, drug enforcement service, and penitentiary system down 5% each.

The state dramatically revises its immigration policy. Budget of the Federal Service of Immigration initially set at 30.8 billion rubles is to be brought down to 20.9 billion rubles. Almost 7 billion rubles are to be withdrawn from the budget of the federal program aimed to bring nationals home from foreign countries. On the other hand, this is but recognition of the program’s failure. According to the Federal Service of Immigration, only about 9,800 Russians chose to come back to their native country between late 2006 and January 2009 and the authorities had expected between 30,000 and 50,000 people. The planned increase of Federal Service of Immigration personnel is postponed.

Education expenditures will be spared cuts, and so – more or less – will medical expenditures.

With truly colossal sums poured into support of the banking sector, state corporations, and major companies (these sums vastly exceed, say, education expenditures), the state chose to cut the costs of modernization of infrastructure. The decision applies to what was initially set aside for construction and repair of roads and for modernization of transport means.

Scientific research expenditures will be down 21%. This planned reduction will seriously affect the Kurchatov Institute whose budget will be 2.5 billion rubles below the initially promised. In the meantime, 1 billion rubles is to be added to the cost of repairs of one of the buildings of the Presidential Administration and 4 billion rubles to the cost of repairs of “federal buildings” throughout Russia.

Culture and arts were initially promised 67 billion rubles but the latest draft budget left them with only 52.5 billion rubles (a 21% reduction). Funding of television and radio broadcasting is to be boosted by one third – to 39.7 billion rubles (1.5 times the sum spent on it in 2008). TV-News (also known as Russia-Today) will be given 3.4 billion rubles additionally, RIA-Novosti news agency 1.4 billion rubles, and ITAR-TASS 300 million rubles. Priorities and intents are fairly clear, aren’t they?