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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: December 8, 2014
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
2,400 State Employees, 500 Law-enforcers Sentenced; 3,700 Officials Disciplined, 168 Fired, Says Kremlin Official
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The crackdown on corruption which President Vladimir Putin promised in his speech to the Russian parliament on December 4 has apparently begun -- or at least the propaganda about it.

Sergei Ivanov, head of the presidential administration, announced today December 8 that 3,700 officials were disciplined after an inspection was made of their income declarations, TASS reported. A total of 168 officials were fired, said Ivanov.

But he was announcing news of inspections made during the first six months of the year, and timing it to the UN's International Anti-Corruption Day, tomorrow, December 9.

Ivanov also said that in the first nine months of 2014, 8,000 people were arrested and sentenced for crimes of corruption, including 45 deputies and candidates for deputies in the parliament. This figure also included 1,200 civil servants and "as many employees of government organizations." The distinction is evidently between state employees like teachers or doctors and employees of government agencies.

With 2,400 state employees actually sentenced for corruption, why wasn't that TASS's headline?

Authorities also arrested 500 law-enforcers, including 136 court staff and 28 customs workers.

Another 4,600 law-enforcers were fined, said Ivanov. He said more than 3,000 officials filed complaints that they were being offered bribes, and this led to the sentencing of 692 prospective bribe-givers.

Ivanov also claimed that Russia had signed and ratified the UN's Convention Against Corruption 'without any reservations or restrictions."

But as pointed out today, when President Vladimir Putin signed the convention in 2006, he did include reservations about Art. 20, "unlawful enrichment," because he said there was no corresponding article in the Russian criminal code.

Countries were supposed to adopt such an article, and that's why anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny has recently launched a campaign for such an article to be introduced.

In his blog post today, Navalny has exposed the obfuscation of the Kremlin on this issue, linking to the document which shows the reservation about Art. 20, and also linking to a Vedomosti article about the Ministry of Justice's proposal for such an article in Russia's criminal code.

"It would be strange to prepare such a ratification if it had already taken place," commented Navalny.

Navalny also pointed to an article in RIA Novosti, the state wire service, with an interview with Judge Valery Zorkin, the head of Russia's Constitution Court, which seemed to imply the Art. 20 campaign was having some impact. Zorkin said the battle with corruption was "unsatisfactory" (translation by The Interpreter):

The head of the Constitutional Court believes one of the reasons for this is that Russia to this day has not yet ratified Article 20 of the UN Convention Against Corruption (unlawful enrichment, that is, the significant increase of the assets of public officials exceeding his lawful income which cannot be rationally explained.)

Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund has published a petition on the web site Russian Civic Initiative (something like the US "We the People") to pass such a law in keeping with the UN convention, which has already garnered 96.776 signatures in favor.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick