State officials and security structures aspire to additional powers.

Security structures and law enforcement agencies clamor for additional powers now that President Dmitry Medvedev signed amendments to the law on the Federal Security Service. Prominent lawyers warned that consequences of this move ought to be considered in advance, human rights activists protested – all to no avail. Medvedev said that the amendments expanding powers of the Federal Security Service had been drawn on his order. He never expected that it would make other security structures envious.

General Vyacheslav Davydov, Chief of the Moscow Directorate of the Drug Enforcement Committee, suggested new working hours for nightclubs. As far as Davydov is concerned, it will be quite all right for youths to relax at nightclubs until midnight and not until morning before finally going home. He also suggested licensing of papaver under whose guise drug dealers are known to bring in raw poppy.

Davydov’s boss Victor Ivanov decided that traffic police officers ought to be issued drug detectors. Instead of taking suspect drivers to special establishments, traffic police officers will be able to detect presence of drugs in the bloodstream right on the spot. As matters stand, traffic police officers are quite busy as they are. When the law on the minimum blood alcohol level was abolished, traffic police officers immediately launched mass examination of drivers ordering them to pull over and blow into the tube of alcohol testers. Considering that the alcohol testers they use register certain medicines and even kvass, one does not have to be a Nobel laureate to guess that officers’ well-being has already soared.

Bailiffs want their slice of the pie too. They already have the power to remove debtors to the state from planes about to take off for foreign countries. That they want more than that goes without saying. The idea bailiffs already suggested concerns the power to confiscate motor vehicle insurance certificates from motorists with debts.

Encouraged by secret services, the government submitted to the Duma amendments to the law on exit from and entry into the Russian Federation. The matter concerns foreign passports for the Russians cleared for classified information. These days, it takes state structures a single month to run a check on such a person applying for a foreign passport and issue the latter. The amendments will extend the term to three months.

Last but not the least, lawmakers themselves suggested eviction for the people with six-month debts for communal services.

All of that has an explanation, or even two. First, presidential ideas concerning dismantlement of administrative barriers for businesses infringed on the powers of countless oversight structures and regulators. They are no longer permitted to “whet their beaks” as frequently as before. Loath of losing a steady inflow of income, bureaucrats and officials are on a lookout for new watering holes.

Second, demise of the U.S.S.R. seriously weakened security structures. Laws of the new Russia brought freedom to the Russians. State officials and security structures have been going out of their way for years now to chalk off their own inadequacy and incompetence to these very freedoms. In other words, they insist on tighter control over the population.

In fact, they even scored some victories in this endless campaign. Under the terms of the pact between the Russians and the authorities made in the years of relative prosperity, the former agreed to a certain infringement on their rights and freedoms in return for better living standards. These days, however, encroachment on human rights and civil freedoms is accompanied by a decline in living standards. All of that might actually foment protests.

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Levada-Center sociologists conducted an opinion poll on July 2-5. Eighty-five percent Russians are convinced that the powers-that-be must listen to protests and 59% are stone-cold confident that this is what the authorities never do. The number of the Russians who believe that the state deals with protests in too brutal a manner rose from 18% in 2009 to 28% nowadays. Political scientist Igor Bunin suggested that it was the authorities’ reaction to protests that added to the popularity of protest actions. Mikhail Vinogradov of St.Petersburg Politics Foundation said that the authorities reacted to protest rallies in this manner because they feared that protests might mount otherwise.

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