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New E-Government Portal Starts

Dmitri Medvedev at Desk, Using Laptop ComputerState-controlled telecoms giant Rostelecom, officially the only telecommunications company permitted to create infrastructure for the country's electronic government service, rolled out a new version of the e-government portal Gosuslugi.ru at the country's biggest telecommunications event of the year, Svyaz-Expocomm, held annually at the Expocenter.

The new, rebranded "state services 2.0" version of the web site is at the core of President Dmitry Medvedev's efforts to reposition Russia as a country that relies on technology and innovations rather than resources for its economic growth and social prosperity.

The new version of the state services portal runs at http://epgu.gosuslugi.ru in test mode alongside the original Gosuslugi.ru, which was started in mid-December 2009. It will, Rostelecom hopes, help iron out the imperfections of the first version.

The updated web site, unlike its previous version, will be available on all platforms ­ personal and tablet computers and smartphones, including devices with sensory screens, said Alexei Nashchyokin, Rostelecom vice president for innovation development.

"Electronic government is not an opportunity to get a form via the Internet. It is the opportunity to get a government service without leaving your room, that's the point," Medvedev said at a session of the information society council last July.

"We wanted to go one step further than just making state services available from your home," Nashchyokin said. "We wanted you to be able to access them from any device, in a way that is convenient for you."

In addition to computers and smartphones, state services will be accessible via special terminals, or "infomats" (also called "electronic public servants" by the Russian media), 500 of which will be installed across Russia by 2015.

Among the innovations on the web site are a new, more user-friendly interface and the slogan "State services ­ transparent as ever!"

To date, more than 72 million Russians tried to use the web site, 752,583 registered and about 550,000 activated their accounts on the state services portal, which allows the account holder to use it for a number of operations: from paying taxes and registering a car to getting a passport.

Problems persist, however. The Russian Internet has abundant negative comments regarding the speed at which the web site loads, the quality of its performance and numerous errors. A typical example is a woman who tried to reserve a spot in a kindergarten for her son through the portal and discovered that he needs a passport and a pension insurance certificate ­ both issued in adulthood.

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