MOSCOW, February 13 (RIA Novosti) – Vladimir Pekhtin, a member of the ruling United Russia party and head of the parliamentary ethics commission, asked for his official duties to be suspended for the duration of a probe into allegations that he owns real estate in the United States, the party’s press service said on Wednesday.
“I have officially asked State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin to order the commission overseeing deputies’ income and property declarations to investigate the allegations made in the media,” he said.
“I am ready to provide all the necessary documentation at the commission’s request.”
The Duma ethics commission told RIA Novosti 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.