Russian Budget Theft Put at $250 Mln in 2012

MOSCOW, December 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian state budget lost 7.9 billion rubles ($256 million) to graft between January and October of this year, the Investigative Committee said on Sunday, which is International Anti-Corruption Day.

Only 1.3 billion rubles was returned to the state coffers so far, said the committee, a rough analogue of the FBI.

Investigators opened about 20,700 corruption cases against various officials over the period, almost 7,000 more than in 2011, the committee said on its website.

Two judges, 13 regional lawmakers and 19 prosecutors were among the people charged for graft this year, the report said.

No federal officials were on the list, though investigators are pursuing separate high-profile probes into the Defense Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry, whose former heads are implicated in the cases, but faced no formal charges so far. Damages in the Defense Ministry case are estimated at 6.7 billion rubles ($215 million), and may reach 39 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) in the Agriculture Ministry case.

In 2010, then-President Dmitry Medvedev estimated graft in state purchases alone to be 1 trillion rubles ($32 billion), most of it never investigated.

Russia ranked 133rd of 176 countries in the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International last week.

The government called the cases involving the federal ministers the start of a long-awaited anti-corruption effort. But analysts, including Yelena Panfilova, the head of Transparency International Russia, said it remains to be seen whether the Kremlin really has the political will to purge the ruling establishment of ubiquitous kleptocrats.


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