The Leap from Laggard to Leader, Would It Be Successful?
Nowadays the problem of systemic corruption has come to the fore in Russia. Since the November 2012 a huge corruption scandals has been in the headlines of the Russian press and TV news. The Russian authorities came in for a lot of criticism and it is the reason to strengthen its anti-corruption legislation and to adopt some laws which, as they suppose, should enforce and enhance the fight against corruption. Nonetheless, people have accustomed to anti-corruption declarations, to say the least. So public outcry and people’s frame of mind cannot be satisfied with oversimplified approach to the complex subject of corruption phenomena, i.e. of the anti-corruption legislative response and randomly detected corruption cases therefore in fact people have considered these events as a campaign.
The President Vladimir Putin, as it seems, has been tired as well as from widespread behaviour by the public officials, even close colleagues who are indulged in putting their fingers in the state till and are cheating on the state for private gain. The investigations of embezzlement, fraud and abuse of power in the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Regional Development, the Federal Pension Foundation, commercial entities which links into these Ministries, and in the other state bodies even at the Moscow region prosecutor office, in the context of combating corruption became as the leap from laggard to leader. In light of these findings some of politicians, especially from the ruling Party have speedy made allegations that this is not a campaign but coming up real combating corruption and now the administrative machine would have been capable functioning much better and could score well on governance. Be that as it may, the procedure of such investigations has always been rather lengthy in Russia so what we would find at the other end of the tunnel will be shown by sequence of events.
Indeed, investigations of these cases is demonstrating that Russia is serious about combating corruption but there is real doubt as to whether the prosecuting authorities could pursue these major investigations on a full-scale and refer the criminal cases to the court. Because of widespread nepotism between public officials, the authorities are shy in going through with corrupt cases and remain a little credibility that the chief perpetrators would be confessed guilty and jailed. Admittedly, such investigations, inter alia, involve improper impact by public officials who illegally obtained huge money and keen to hide its true nature or source. As a matter of fact, investigation authorities have to deal with very influential personas which are not just “common criminals” but their status and wealth and consequently power, gives them opportunity to water down the details and the overall picture of these criminal cases. Moreover, those personas have just believed they are not going to be accused and jailed. As a result, it cannot be ruled out that these investigations could have been turn to a long-term ineffective process and the substantive law matters under investigations could have been changed. Thus the sticking point of those cases is the issue of transparency and objectivity, fair and impartiality investigations and trials. If not, the investigating authorities’ and court’ specific solutions subsequently could be corrupt as well.
On the other hand, if the authorities have taken public attention to those huge corruption investigations and are keeping this information free, it seems inevitable and consistency that punishment for all personas who are guilty would be exemplary and the confiscation of stolen by them and fines should be compulsory in terms of the principle of equality before the law. If not, people would feel that the investigating authorities traditionally hit a boundary of the shadow that amounts to denial and contempt of the rule of law. It is therefore of increased importance they are able to exercise conferred them discretionary power completely and to conduct a comprehensive investigations and, as result, won’t afford the corrupt officials hide behind misfeasance of those who can try improperly to rule the investigations. Thus the critical thing is how it’s supervised and enforced according to the rule of law.
Finally, if those investigations are really a clampdown on corruption, the Russian authorities must be held out as responsible before it signed on to International Anti-Corruption Treaties and Conventions and to implement current international anti-corruption standards. They must demonstrate principled approach to objectivity and impartiality of investigations and to secure sentencing everyone corrupt public officials who will be found criminally liable in.
Evgeny A. Nagornyy
Anti-Corruption Committee News, Newsletter of the IBA Legal Practice Division, Volume 5, Number 1, April 2013