Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Astapkovich

Matviyenko says Russia needs a law on comprehensive Arctic development

We need to prepare and adopt a special law on the comprehensive development of the Arctic, Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko said at a presidium meeting of the Expert Council on the Arctic and Antarctic at the upper house of Russia's parliament, which was held in Yakutia, TASS reports.

"Russia must regain a leading status in the Arctic, which it held by right in the 20th century, and advance it to a higher level," Ms Matviyenko said. A major step towards this goal should be the adoption of a framework document that will take into account the Arctic specifics and will provide mechanisms for comprehensive development, the Federation Council head said.

The law on the Arctic should be an immediately applicable (direct effect) law, Matviyenko said. It must not include declarative recommendations that are not backed by financing and organizational provisions.

The Federation Council speaker recalled that the Arctic bill was submitted to the lower house, the State Duma, at the Federation Council's initiative in 1998 where it just gathered dust. In 2013, the Russian government said adopting it was not expedient because all development issues in the region could be settled by industry-specific laws.

"I believe the events of the past two years have forced us to rethink that decision," Ms Matviyenko said.  "The Arctic has been called the global warehouse of natural resources. No wonder it has attracted the attention of so many countries."

She said that the most reliable way to protect Russia's interests in the Arctic was to develop its northern regions at a priority rate.