Russia reiterates commitment to stronger int’l anti-corruption cooperation.

11/7 Tass 433

VIENNA, July 11 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia remains committed to stronger international anti-corruption cooperation, Russian Presidential chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin said.

He said corruption could be fought effectively “only through close international cooperation” and a key role in this process should be played by the United Nations.

“On the whole, our country is moving on to international anti-corruption standards.” Naryshkin said on Monday, July 11, at a meeting with ambassadors and permanent representatives of the U.N. member states accredited in Austria.

He spoke of the national anti-corruption strategy and a national anti-corruption plan adopted in Russia, the work of the presidential Anti-Corruption Council, and the Federal Law “On Combating Corruption”.

“Multiple fines for corruption offences have been introduced and mediation in the act of bribery has been criminalized this year. Punishment has been introduced for corruption offences committed by foreign officials and employees of international organisations. A law has been drafted that sets a special procedure for considering corruption accusations,” Naryshkin said.

He called for a comprehensive and systemic fight against corruption. “A strategic task is to eliminate conditions and prerequisites for corruption, make public contracts and tenders transparent, remove unnecessary bureaucratic barriers, and strictly regulate all administrative decisions,” he said.

Naryshkin expressed confidence that these steps “will make anti-corruption measures more effective and provide yet another evidence of Russia’s confident movement towards a truly rule-of-law democratic state”.

He admitted earlier that the rate of corruption in Russian society was high but not pandemic.

“The degree of ‘infection’ with this disease is quite high but it’s not pandemic,” Naryshkin said.

The number of exposed corruption offences committed on a large and very large scale increased. In the first ten months of 2010, law enforcement agencies exposed more than 11,000 crimes involving bribery. More than 3,500 people were sentenced. The sum of bribes in these crimes exceeded 500 million roubles. Almost 1,500 crimes involving commercial bribery to an amount of over 150 million roubles were registered and 250 people were sentenced, Naryshkin said.

“Corruption threatens our society as much as terrorism or drug addiction does. Corruption is a considerable obstacle to economic growth and national development, and total neglect of societal interests, especially of vulnerable sections of the population,” he said.

According to the anti-corruption public organisation “Clean Hands”, up to 90 percent of all corruption cases involve public and municipal services, and the scale of corruption has come close to 50 percent of Russia’s GDP, which is almost identical to the figures published by the World Bank – 48 percent of GDP.

The most corrupt sphere is the provision of public and municipal services, where covert corruption accounts for up to 90 percent of the turnover. For example, entrepreneurs say that they lose about half of their income because of corruption.

A recent poll showed that the average bribe in Russia had almost doubled over the past four years from 5,048 roubles in 2006 to 8,887 roubles in 2010. The number of bribe takers has increased over the same time from 27 percent to 31 percent of those polled. Registering a business and obtaining permission for entrepreneurial activities proved to be the most corrupt sphere. Of those who tried to obtain necessary documents, 92 percent gave bribes, according to a poll conducted by Levada Centre.

In 2005, only 19 percent of businessmen had to give bribes when applying for documents, sociologists say. Another 65-67 percent of those polled, just like five years ago, gave bribes when violating traffic rules and detained by a traffic police inspector.

Some 43-45 percent of Russians said they had given bribes when “going through criminal proceedings in court” (32 percent in 2005) or when “receiving a driver’s license, registering an automobile or undergoing a motor vehicle inspection” (26 percent). And 38.5 percent of Russians gave bribes when “facing criminal charges” (less than 1 percent in 2005).

According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, the average bribe in Russia has increased by a quarter in 2010 to 30,500 roubles. The office blames the worsening anti-corruption statistics on law enforcement agencies that have loosened vigilance. Russian courts are also too loyal to government officials – the absolute majority of officials sentenced for corruption escape real prison terms.

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