MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti) – Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin praised on Thursday the decision by house ethics commission chief Vladimir Pekhtin to step down for the duration of a probe into allegations that he owns luxury real estate in the United States.
“This is normal human practice. I believe he is doing the honest, right thing,” Naryshkin said, adding that he had spoken with Pekhtin and appreciated his determination to refute all allegations made against him.
Pekhtin, a member of the ruling United Russia party, on Wednesday asked Naryshkin to order the commission overseeing deputies’ income and property declarations to investigate the allegations made in the media, adding that he was ready to provide all the necessary documentation at the commission’s request.
The Duma ethics commission told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that while the probe is in progress, Pekhtin’s functions as commission head will be performed by his deputy, Andrei Andreyev, a member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The ethics commission is tasked with ensuring that the MPs’ conduct meets the ethical standards outlined in the Duma Ethical Code of Conduct.
Pekhtin earlier told RIA Novosti that the real estate in question, which famous opposition figure Alexei Navalny had blogged about, belongs to his son.
Pekhtin’s move comes a day after President Vladimir Putin submitted a bill to the State Duma prohibiting Russian officials from owning bank accounts and assets abroad as part of his much touted anti-corruption drive.
Russia’s presidential anti-corruption council proposed additional sanctions against corrupt officials on Wednesday. Russia plans to spend some 3.5 million rubles ($117,000) on anti-corruption training for federal civil servants, Russian Deputy Labor and Social Welfare Minister Tatyana Blinova said.
According to a November opinion poll by VTsIOM, 38 percent of Russians believe the country’s anti-corruption campaign has not produced any meaningful results, with 13 percent saying corruption keeps getting worse. Russia ranked 133rd of 174 countries in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International watchdog, alongside Iran, Kazakhstan and Honduras.