Putin to oblige governors to check municipal employees for corruption

Putin to oblige governors to check municipal employees for corruption
Vladimir Putin

Municipal officials will have to report on their incomes and assets, and the governors will be responsible for controlling this information. Also, the FSB Academy applicants will have to provide the reports. Such amendments were introduced to the State Duma by the President.

The President’s amendments were received by the lower house of the Russian Parliament on Thursday evening, December 15, and are available in the State Duma database. According to the document, "persons holding municipal positions and certain positions in municipal service" will have to be report on their incomes and property, confirmed the Deputy Chairman of the Safety Committee and Anti-Corruption, the member of United Russia (Edinaya Rossiya) Anatoly Vyborny, to RBC.

"So we are building a single anti-corruption power vertical of all authorities and branches of the government", stressed the MP.

The presidential bill imposes the control of checking the reliability of this information on the governors. In the case providing false information by the city official, the head of the region can apply for early termination of powers of such officer in the local authority or a court.

Another innovation in the amendments is the requirement to provide information for Russians entering the universities subordinated to the security authorities.

The political analyst Alexey Makarkin connects them with a summer scandal, when the FSB Academy graduates organized a mass race in Moscow on Mersedes Gelendwagen SUVs. Resonance around this story has become an occasion for the official FSB investigation against the graduates, as well as the management of the Academy. "Their indiscreet demonstrative personal behavior <...> caused a just indignation and strong condemnation of the citizens, as well as in the military units of the security forces, as not consistent with the Code of Ethics and Official Conduct", the FSB official stressed.

At that, the President’s amendments allow the state and municipal employees to be members of the non-profit organizations, cottage and garage cooperatives and condominium partnerships. It is not a hard ban, said the Deputy Vyborny, simply "the amendments clearly provide that there is no conflict of interest." The officials will also be able to manage NGOs, but solely on "free of charge and in their free time," said the United Russia member.

"Participation of the said persons, state, and municipal employees in the management of political parties is allowed without any restrictions," says the law.

Also, for the military and law enforcement officers, it will be easier to engage in the management of public organizations, if these NGOs are directed "to development of military- and service-applied sports."

The governors’ control over the income of the municipal officials is a further step to seriously strengthen the vertical of power, said the political scientist Makarkin. "Steps in this direction are made all the time: as of now, not all cities elect mayors; in some, already the appointed city managers work. But introducing the full vertical – say so that a Mayor of a large city would be appointed also as a deputy governor – is impossible, since Russia joined the Charter of Local Self-Government. That is why, they simply increase control", he said. The expert notes that the majority of the population support the innovations.

In the possibility for the officials to freely manage the NGOs, the political scientist sees a risk for the development of civil society: "It will lead to further growth of the 'pocket NGOs' under the control of the authorities."

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