MOSCOW, April 2 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees on Tuesday to help implement laws obliging state officials to declare their income and expenses, in a bid to crack down on corruption.
State officials will have to submit information concerning their acquisition of real estate, land, cars, valuables and shares, as well as information about their property abroad, and will have to explain the sources of the income which used to buy such acquisitions.
“There will be a single document, a declaration of both income and expenses,” Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said, “and each state official will have to give information on income and expenses for the previous year.”
State officials and heads of state corporations who fail to submit information on real estate they own abroad will be sacked from their posts, he warned.
“I would like to say again that to own real estate abroad is not prohibited, but an applicant must declare it and specify the means he used to purchase it. An obvious onus will follow if he fails to do this, which is dismissal due to loss of trust,” Ivanov said.
Officials who have not yet disclosed information on their income and expenses for 2012 will have to do this before July 1, Ivanov said, adding he will have to report to the president on October 1 on the foreign property and bank accounts state officials hold.
The Russian parliament is currently debating a draft law submitted to the State Duma by Putin in February, which would entirely prohibit Russian officials from holding bank accounts abroad or owning foreign-issued shares and bonds. State officials now have time until July 1 to close their foreign bank accounts.
“If they currently have accounts in foreign banks, they have the right to get rid of them within three months,” Ivanov said.
Over 300 state officials were dismissed from their posts after inspections of their declarations for 2011, he added.
Whistle-blowers who report corruption will also be provided legal protection in line with Putin’s latest presidential decree, Ivanov said.
“There is an important provision in the decree, which is a norm providing protection for persons informing about corruption cases… Such person will get a lawyer’s assistance, if necessary, at government expense,” he said.
Anonymous reports about alleged cases of corruption involving state officials will not be considered however, Ivanov said.
Asked whether the heads of state-controlled companies Rosneft and Gazprom should be also banned from holding foreign bank accounts, Ivanov said “yes, definitely.”
A spokesman for Rosneft head Igor Sechin said Sechin “keeps all his money in Russia,” while Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the energy giant’s head Alexei Miller also keeps his cash in the country.
“The boss keeps everything in Gazprombank,” Kupriyanov said.
Putin’s Tuesday decree also delegates control over the income and expenses of the administrative staff of the Central Bank of Russia, and the staff of the Federation Council, the State Duma, the Central Election Commission and Audit Chamber to the Kremlin chief of staff.
The issue of Russian state officials owning property abroad has come under the spotlight recently, with several of them resigning after it emerged that they owned undeclared real estate overseas.
Russia ranked 133rd of 174 countries in the latest Corruption Perceptions Index by the Transparency International watchdog, alongside Iran, Kazakhstan and Honduras. Corruption has been cited by the goverment itself as one of the principal threats to Russia’s national security.
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 said corruption keeps getting worse.
Updated at 18:02 clarifying lead, at 18:36 clarifying headline