War on Corruption: PR or Victory

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Last week, law enforcement officers got a solid booty – they caught a Novgorod gang, the creation of which the vice-governor is suspected of, and proved the theft of billions from Zenit-Arena. United Russia members opened a hunt for the police, covering businessmen. The Kremlin also did not sit idle, setting two new traps for a major corrupt official. The people were left with public initiatives and uncomfortable questions for officials..

It all started with the fact that in 2012, the Green Economy Trust took part in a tender for road improvement worth 35 million rubles. The competition was held by Novgorodavtodor. Trest managed to win this tender, but Shalmuev, together with the head of Novgorodavtodor, Nikolai Zakaldaev, forced the director of the company to refuse to perform the work by means of blackmail and threats.

A criminal group consisting of officials and criminals was implicated in embezzlement in 2011 in the amount of 150 million rubles.

As a result, the place of the Trust was taken by the Veche company, but after a while the injured party decided to notify the law enforcement officers. In the course of the investigation it turned out that Zakaldaev received 10% from Veche subcontractors, and Shalmuev was content with a monthly “bonus” from the bandits in the amount of 300 thousand rubles. The activity of the organized criminal group began in 2011, when 150 million rubles were stolen for the same road repair. The money was cashed through the “Magistral”.

On April 3, the police conducted about 40 searches. After the operatives searched Shalmuev’s house and intended to detain him, the official became ill with his heart (according to lawyers, diabetes has worsened). The police had to take a written undertaking not to leave the hospital from the vice-governor. The official received a preventive measure for a period of 2 months. There are already 7 people from the group in the pre-trial detention center, and the case has been transferred to the Investigative Committee.

Otkat-Arena. Complete finale

The affairs of the Novgorod bureaucratic criminal group pale in comparison with the scale of theft during the construction of the Zenit Arena. Thus, the Chamber of Control and Accounts of St. Petersburg counted violations during the construction of the stadium for 25 billion rubles. True, this does not mean that such an amount was stolen, because only 14.4 billion were spent on the construction site. The inspectors calculated the losses by summing up the cost of the same work, based on the number of violations discovered.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

However, there have been reports of considerable directly stolen funds. Thus, the 3.8 billion rubles received by Transstroy have disappeared without a trace – there are no documents on their use. In addition, forgery was revealed under other articles, as a result of which the amount of embezzlement reached 6.6 billion rubles. The documents were transferred to the prosecutor’s office. Thus, spending budget funds at the expense of the city’s taxpayers turned out to be, to put it mildly, ineffective..

During the construction of Zenit-Arena, almost 7 billion rubles were stolen from 14 billion rubles; to complete the project, another 20 billion is needed, which there is nowhere to take..

The facility is still far from completion, and further work requires another 20 billion rubles. Moreover, even such a colossal budget is already the result of a downward recalculation of estimates and a repeated state examination, and after all, last year it was almost 10 billion rubles more. In terms of growth rates, the expenditure side may well compete with the Olympic facilities – over 5 years, the cost estimates have risen from 6.7 billion to 43.7 billion rubles, i.e. by 37 billion rubles!

Unfortunately, the burden of completing the construction, without exaggeration, of the most expensive stadium in the world, will again fall on the shoulders of Petersburgers. The actual owner of the Zenit-Arena enterprise – Gazprom – does not intend to finance the construction, and the federal authorities have already informed the leadership of the Northern Capital that the government considers the allocation of funds from the state budget inappropriate.

Official, be careful! Presidential traps

Tracking such thieves from the authorities as unnamed officials who “worked” with Zenit-Arena is possible only by tightening state control as much as possible, and the controlling body should be independent from the rest, ideally, be the highest echelon. Vladimir Putin tried to do this by personally setting up new networks for corrupt officials.

On April 2, the president issued two decrees on anti-corruption measures. One of them, “On Measures to Implement Certain Provisions of the Federal Law” On Combating Corruption “, is supposed to be a kind of” witness protection “program. Thus, citizens who have reported to the competent authorities information about manifestations of corruption have the right to state protection and free legal assistance. Anonymous messages will still not be considered.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

However, the main resonance and discussions in the media were caused by the requirements of the decrees regarding the transparency of the financial side of the private life of public sector employees. Members of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank, heads of the Pension Fund, as well as medical and social insurance funds, officials of state-owned companies are now obliged to report to the Presidential Administration on the movement of their own financial and material resources..

Now senior public sector leaders will have to report not only on the amount of money spent, but also on the sources of their receipt..

Operations with land, vehicles, real estate, shares and shares will be monitored. A nice innovation is that officials will be required, in addition to specifying the amount of costs, to indicate the sources of this money. In addition, it is planned to introduce reporting on foreign assets – bank accounts, property and securities. By the way, officials were given time until July 1 to close foreign accounts. This very day is the last deadline for submitting declarations.

The day after the signing of Putin’s decrees, French President François Hollande also spoke about the need to control the finances of civil servants. The head of state said this in very emotional tones on April 3. The day before, the former head of the budget ministry Jerome Cayuzak told the press that he had a confidential bank account abroad, which caused a corresponding reaction from the president..

On April 4, Kyrgyzstan took the initiative. The country’s parliament adopted in the third reading the law on the declaration of income of civil servants and politicians, as well as their relatives. As the authors of the project, deputies from the Ar-Namys faction, explained, this should stop the practice of rewriting dishonestly acquired property by civil servants on their wives and other relatives.

United Russia vs. Werewolf in uniform

While the president is fighting corruption in the ranks of his own system, United Russia has tuned in to a war with law enforcement agencies, over and without reason, imprisoning unfortunate entrepreneurs. United Russia members sent a request to the head of the Supreme Court Vyacheslav Lebedev to provide statistical information regarding the detention of businessmen in the framework of cases initiated under economic articles.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

The parliamentarians explained their interest in this issue by the increasing cases of abuse by law enforcement officers, carried out in order to exert pressure on entrepreneurs. Cases are started under articles of “waste”, “fraud” – that is, of a purely economic nature.

The widespread detention and detention of entrepreneurs under “economic” articles is an arbitrariness of law enforcement agencies.

The practice of detention during the investigation of such cases is widespread, and according to the Criminal Procedure Code, this type of restraint should be applied only in individual cases. On the one hand, parliamentarians are right: the level of abuse in the law enforcement system is extremely high. Taking a businessman into custody can be a stage of a raider takeover, blackmail or extortion..

On the other hand, free from the shackles of Themis, dishonest businessmen can hide the stolen funds away, “clean up” the traces of their crimes and even escape from the investigation. To date, the interpretation and application of a particular rule of law in this area in most cases depends on subjective factors – personal opinion, motivation and conscience of fighters against crime. Therefore, as long as there is total corruption in the law enforcement system, the situation will not change..

The Kremlin fell ill with socionetophobia

As the work with its high-ranking personnel becomes tougher, the Kremlin begins to turn into a self-sufficient, closed organism, since, for reasons unknown so far, the presidential corps is also moving away from publicity. So, at least, according to the media, which, referring to an unnamed source, spoke about the authorities’ approaches to social networks..

The views of the leadership of the Kremlin and the White House on the independent expression of officials’ opinions on official issues on social networks are diametrically opposed. Thus, the presidential administration insists that only the press services can formulate and express the opinion of Kremlin officials, as well as employees of ministries..

Hunting week: everyone has their own

The Kremlin’s unofficial restriction does not apply to parliamentarians and governors, however, they are also warned of the possible consequences of rash phrases. We will remind, Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin gave up social networks voluntarily, after his own boorish statement on Twitter about Madonna, who announced her support for Pussy Riot. In the ministries, these issues are regulated in different ways, but all this happens again at the unofficial level..

The power ministries do not practice communication between heads of departments with ordinary Russians through social networks.

The Ministry of Emergency Situations prefers to communicate with citizens through the official website, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs reported that the press service posts news of the department under the accounts of the leadership. In the ministries of education and culture, on the contrary, the heads of departments personally keep their records on social networks. The press service of Dmitry Medvedev does not confirm the information about the ban of the Kremlin administration on the use of social networks to cover official issues.

As for the official position of the Presidential Administration, it was announced by the press secretary of Vladimir Putin Dmitry Peskov, stating that this issue will be regulated, but there is no time for this now. So, high-ranking owners publish bold statements on their personal pages at their own peril and risk..

Amateur activities in social networks sometimes have grave consequences: take the same Tver governor Dmitry Zelenin, who was fired six months after the publication of a photo of a plate with salad and an earthworm, allegedly taken at a reception in the Kremlin. A careless official who successfully worked in his post for 8 years, after that he barely held the post for six months, after which he was fired of his own free will.

Communicating with mere mortals on social networks would certainly benefit officials. At least they could get to know the people better, find out how they live and how much they earn. This would certainly be useful to Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, who announced on April 3 that the government is aware of what only 48 million people are doing, but the rest of the able-bodied population has remained a mystery, since it works in areas unknown to the authorities.

Unanswered questions

The illusion of publicity, however, continues to be supported by some simple concepts. Thus, according to Pavel Kudyukin, Associate Professor of the National Research University Higher School of Economics, a bill is currently being developed that allows the public to freely ask officials all questions of interest to people, including those that can be considered inconvenient. Such laws, according to the developers, abroad are an important lever in the fight against corruption..

The law on “inconvenient questions” will be clearly superfluous, since it will not add publicity, but will only cause unnecessary duplication of norms in Russian legislation.

Nevertheless, in the Russian Federation for the third year now there has been law No. 8-FZ “On ensuring access to information on the activities of state bodies and local self-government bodies”, at the time of its adoption in 2009, christened as “the law on public curiosity.” In fact, the document regulates the procedure for citizens’ appeals to the authorities and the procedure for processing responses to these requests. It seems that parliamentarians intend to “reinvent the wheel” and duplicate already existing norms.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

On the other hand, if the format of “inconvenient questions” is more to the liking of the public, then deputies and officials in order to increase their own rating among the electorate should follow the example of Dmitry Kobylkin, the governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The official announced that on April 17, he was ready to take part in the next TV show “Inconvenient Questions to the Governor” and give comprehensive answers to all appeals and inquiries of citizens.

The first time such a program was organized back in 2010. The governor had to answer more than 300 calls and inquiries via the Internet, often going live on the air with the heads of municipalities. To answer the uncomfortable questions of the population, Dmitry Nikolaevich did not need a special law or the help of scientific workers..

Democracy in inaction

Along with the imitation of glasnost, the topic of civilian influence on the country’s development process is being actively discussed. Public initiatives are being introduced into fashion, but, unfortunately, not into reality. Having given the Russians the illusion of the possibility of control over what was happening, the illusory leverage on the hitherto impenetrable bureaucratic machine, the authorities acted very cruelly. They gave hope.

For example, the civic initiative regarding the abolition of the law of “Dima Yakovlev”, as you know, remained unheard – having received a petition in December with 100 thousand signatures of dissatisfied citizens, parliamentarians considered this message an insufficient reason to consider the appeal of the people at the legislative level and simply ignored.

By the way, the degree of participation of the Ombudsman for the Rights of the Child Pavel Astakhov in the examination of the scandalous law is silent. On the other hand, there is no reason to hope for a detailed legal analysis of the bill on the part of Astakhov, at least, such a conclusion can be made based on the statement of journalist Sergei Parkhomenko, published on April 3.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

Parkhomenko believes that Astakhov’s solid scientific work “Legal conflicts and modern forms of their resolution” turned out to be 80% identical with his own Ph.D., in addition, whole paragraphs were borrowed from 8 scientific works of other authors. No wonder there was no one to protect children’s rights.

Public initiatives turned out to be an empty phrase, to which the authorities do not react, despite hundreds of thousands of signatures of Russians.

After the law “On measures of influence on persons involved in violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, rights and freedoms of citizens of the Russian Federation” was adopted, “Novaya Gazeta” initiatively collected 130 thousand signatures in favor of the dissolution of the State Duma, as well as providing citizens the right to recall individual deputies or parliament as a whole. In addition, the petition was supposed to grant the status of mandatory for consideration to all issues, under which more than 100 thousand signatures were collected..

This appeal, full of hope, was sent to the Kremlin, but the response to it again did not please the activists. Oleg Morozov, head of the presidential administration’s internal policy department, explained that on March 4, Vladimir Putin issued a decree “On Consideration of Public Initiatives,” according to which such petitions should be submitted only through a special website, only from April 15 and only within the framework of those issues which are not solved by other legal methods.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

That is, in fact, it is necessary to re-collect more than 100 thousand signatures, which may have been done, but … re-signing the appeal is “Sisyphean labor.” It turned out that the dissolution of the State Duma by votes of citizens is regulated exclusively by the law “On Referendum”, so that no petitions outside the framework of this normative document will be considered initially.

Assassins behind the wheel

Speaking about the initiatives of the State Duma, one should pay tribute to the fact that at least one reasonable proposal was voiced by parliamentarians last week. Representatives of the parliamentary faction of the Liberal Democratic Party Igor Lebedev and Alexander Nilov proposed to confiscate cars from drivers who have committed an accident while intoxicated.

Relatives of the injured party, in the event of the death of the accident victim, will be able to receive compensation in the form of funds received from the sale of confiscated cars. The deputies proposed to cancel the amicable agreement of the participants in the accident, if one of them was drunk, as well as to take measures for the criminal prosecution of persons who escaped punishment after the expiry of the time for deferring the execution of the sentence.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

This is not the first time that representatives of the LDPR faction have shown legislative initiative in this matter. So, earlier a proposal to confiscate a car from drunken perpetrators of an accident was given by the representative of the faction Sergey Ivanov, but the initiative was withdrawn by the government with reference to Article 55 of the Constitution, which guarantees the inviolability of private property.

The legislative initiative on the confiscation of cars from drivers who have been involved in an accident while intoxicated, most likely, will not be supported again in the State Duma.

It is not excluded that the State Duma will not support the initiative of the Liberal Democratic Party this time. Vladimir Fedorov, a member of the Federation Council, has already spoken out against the confiscation of private property, even from drunken drivers. Fedorov considers the confiscation unconstitutional, and also asks to clarify the procedure for seizing the car if the violator was driving it by proxy. The member of the Federation Council himself proposes to simply mark cars whose drivers have been seen drunk while driving with special badges or color coding on the license plate.

Meanwhile, Belarus is not particularly concerned with the rights of potential killer drivers. There are more worries about reducing road fatalities, which have risen catastrophically from drunken drivers. According to the Prosecutor General of the Republic, Alexander Konyuk, together with the Ministry of Justice, a bill has been prepared on the confiscation of cars from both drunk drivers and persons who handed over the vehicle to them, for which the mechanism for issuing powers of attorney will be specially restored.

In addition, the Belarusian project envisages a significant increase in the terms of imprisonment for drivers who have committed an accident while drunk. Currently, the bill is being successfully negotiated. Russia, on the other hand, is traditionally more loyal to drunk driving. The new law providing for tougher punishments for drunk drivers, introduced by the deputy from “United Russia” Irina Yarovaya, passed the first reading. The project provides for a fine of 30 thousand rubles for drunk drivers and deprivation of rights for 2 years.

State Duma: delirium of the week

The deputies decided to complicate the life of not only drunken, but also quite sober own drivers. They intend to remove the “solid” one in Okhotny Ryad, made especially for the convenience of bringing the servants of the people directly to the building of the State Duma. On April 4, Vladimir Pozdnyakov, deputy head of the committee for regulations, appealed to the parliamentary apparatus with a proposal to change the road markings around the building.

The solid line was made so that unauthorized vehicles could not get into the parking lot of parliamentarians. Of course, the cars of the people’s deputies could violate traffic rules without hindrance, crossing the line. The initiative was taken up by other deputies who thought a little bigger than the regulations of the State Duma. So, Yaroslav Nilov proposed to check the correctness of drawing a continuous line in Moscow, and Mikhail Emelyanov was eager to put in order the “continuous” lines of the whole country.

Hunting week: everyone has their own

And this was not the only problem that worried parliamentarians. The difficulties associated with finding parked cars near the State Duma building turned out to be much more serious. Oleg Nilov (namesake of Yaroslav Nilov), the Just Russia faction, also appealed to the State Duma apparatus, only with a request to number the parking spaces. The fact is that a large accumulation of cars does not allow the deputies to quickly find their own car..

The main problems discussed by the State Duma deputies last week were the search for an official car near the parliament building and the absence of a doorman.

It is very difficult when the search is complicated by darkness and unfavorable weather conditions – rain and snow. By the way, according to the deputy, snow often clogs up the license plate of a car and then it becomes simply impossible to find a car! The representative of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Alexander Starovoitov went further – he proposed to have a special person on the staff, whose duty would include escorting the deputy to the car and deploying a notification system via SMS, similar to how taxi dispatch services do it.

United Russia member Andrei Kolesnik and the deputy chief of staff of the State Duma empathized with their colleagues, but could not offer a way out of this situation. Only the CPRF did not support the complainants. Deputy Andrei Andreev said the problem was simply not serious. By the way, two months ago, Andreev considered the fact that the movement of the deputy’s official car was entered in the waybills as a serious problem, so the travel routes of the people’s deputies could become public. However, this does not at all prevent the majority of parliamentarians from using the services of official cars..

So far, the deputy vehicle fleet is only growing. A section of the roadway from Okhotny Ryad has already been allocated for the State Duma parking lots, Georgievsky Lane has been blocked because of deputy cars. The latter, by the way, is equipped with a special sign prohibiting the entry of cars without a State Duma pass on the windshield – a magic key that opens all doors and barriers to a happy, comfortable life, with such petty problems and such colossal opportunities.

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