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New State Auctions Web Site Planned

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and the Economic Development Ministry plan to launch an electronic trading web site this month that will host auctions for property that the state intends to sell, the watchdog's head Igor Artemyev said Tuesday.

The web site, Torgi.gov.ru, will host information on the sale and lease of federal property, he said at the annual meeting of the service's college.

The new site will function as an analog to Goszakupki.gov.ru, an online clearing house for state purchases, said Irina Kashunina, a spokeswoman for the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service.

"The government will offer state property for sale through Torgi.gov.ru. Entrepreneurs from all over the country will be able to take part in the auctions announced on the web site," she told The Moscow Times.

The state property offered on the web site will include seized property and land plots, Kashunina said.

The watchdog has been pushing for more transparency in state contracts and recently introduced regulations requiring all state purchases to be completed through a few online portals.

By July, all federal orders must go through the portal Goszakupki.gov.ru, and auctions must be held on one of five electronic trading sites, while regional governments will have until January 2011 to transfer all their tenders onto the exchanges.

But when it comes to auctions in which the state is selling property, the large number of web sites that host the tenders makes it impossible to control the fairness and accessibility of the tender information, Artemyev said.

"In March, the site will start working in a test regime. It will be opened in 2010," he said.

Separately, Artemyev said in an interview that the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service had doubled the amount that it charged in fines for violating the law on competition, bringing in 28 billion rubles ($930 million) in 2009.

He added, however, that it was still necessary to retrieve some of the fines because lawsuits were ongoing in several cases.

The 800 million rubles paid by Mechel for setting monopolistically high prices for coal was the largest fine imposed by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service last year, Artemyev told Vedomosti.

"But the biggest fines are ahead. The court battles about them are still not over," he said.

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