Expansive deputies: Krasnoyarsk parliamentarians double their salaries and shift blame on Governor
The juicy scandal with increase of salaries of the Krasnoyarsk deputies continued unexpectedly. A part of the parliamentarians now say - they were impudently deceived. Instead of the document prepared in advance, they were given some other at the last minute. And the blame is on their colleagues of the regional administration. Some were also accusing directly the Governor.
On July 11 deputies of Legislative assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Region unexpectedly for themselves became stars of the Internet. A host of the local TV channel TVK Aleksander Smol made them famous. On the air of morning news, he told about the deputies, who gathered for a regular session. At the end of the meeting when journalists already left the hall, parliamentarians were about to discuss the increase in salaries of state employees. But instead, they put other question to the vote – why not to raise their own salaries? Together they decided to raise it in double. The deputies decided to increase the amount of so-called reward, which people's deputies earn for their hard work, from 100 to 200 thousand rubles (from $1 660 to $3 330).
Smol admired the resourcefulness of the deputies: “Guys, you are so cool! You wanted to raise [the salary] to doctors and raised [it] to yourselves. Like, there are a lot of doctors, not that many librarians, but still a significant number, and then some government employees. Screw them! Guys, we are left alone in the Legislative Assembly hall. Let us raise our own salaries! And the hands of the deputies – or how do they vote, with their tablets – were risen up and [they] started pressing buttons!”. Smol applauded to parliamentarians and asked them not to do themselves well further as well.
Smol’s sarcastic video instantly became a hit on the Internet. In only one day it was seen by more than 400 thousand people, the video took the third place in the list of the most popular videos on YouTube. While the act of the Krasnoyarsk deputies caused a wave of general indignation including among their colleagues from other regions.
The public demanded from people's deputies to explain what has happened. And some curious details were revealed. It appeared, that the parliamentarians accepted the decision to double their salaries a long time ago, on June 8. The initiative was taken by deputy from the United Russia party Lyudmila Magomedova.
Deputy Lyudmila Magomedova
Vice speaker of regional parliament, deputy from the United Russia Aleksey Kleshko brought up the bill for the vote.
He suggested adding changes into the system of compensation of public servants of the region. The others instantly voted pro right away, adopting the law in two readings at once. There were no questions or objections. No refrained as well.
It is remarkable that Kleshko earlier declared publicly: it is inadmissible to raise salaries to people's deputies until the income of all workers of the budgetary sphere does not grow. “Deputies should raise their salaries the last thing”, Kleshko said once. According to Krasnoyarskstat, for the 1st quarter of 2017, the average salary in the region has made 37 387,5 rubles ($623,3). The average salary in the field of health care and social services has made 28 556,4 rubles ($476,1) in April. These are official figures. In reality, it is much lower. The survey conducted in April by OTR TV channel showed that the average salary of doctors in the Krasnoyarsk Region makes 14,3 thousand rubles ($238,4). Thus, according to the speaker’s logic, it is a little too soon to double the salary of the deputies.
Only one deputy, Ivan Serebryakov from Patriots of Russia party, did not vote for the increase. Not because he was against it, but just because he left before the vote. He decided that there will be nothing interesting at the end. Though, as users of social networks have fairly noticed, he could stay until the end of the session — after all he receives 100 thousand ($1 667) a month for it.
After unexpectedly becoming the only parliamentarian who was not involved in the scandal, Serebryakov immediately tried to make the most of it. First of all the deputy declared that he did not even know that such question would be raised. “We discussed this legislative initiative on a committee, but it did not concern deputies, only government employees, heads of municipal enterprises, librarians, doctors and so on, and then such substitution of concepts happened”, Serebryakov was surprised. As if the deputy only learned that he is going to earn exactly twice more only later.
Then Serebryakov went for a self-praise, saying that if he was in the hall, he would, by all means, oppose the increase in salaries. “You can consider such process as raising of salary as a fiddle while Rome is burning. First of all, we have an enormous national debt in the Krasnoyarsk Region, we have a budget deficit. And at the same time deputies raise their salaries. The second moment — how did it happen? It happened in secret, covered with a gloom”, Serebryakov said.
His colleagues responded to his strike and doubted Serebryakov's sincerity. Deputy from DPR Aleksander Gliskov commented on the situation on his Facebook page: It is sure that Serebryakov knew about the preparing fraud. I assume that someone from initiators of the bill has talked to him. Therefore he ‘beautifully’ left in the calculation, that he would both get a raised salary and be able to justify himself. If he wanted to protest, he could then make a speech at the session, draw attention to the amendment and offer a roll-call vote. He still has not read the bill judging by his confused comments”.
Serebryakov ignored caustic reproaches of colleagues in social networks and continued his PR action. The parliamentarian decided to go further away and to accuse governor of the Krasnoyarsk Region Victor Tolokonsky of the incident. The deputy said: apparatus of the governor offered the question of the increase in salaries for consideration of Legislative Assembly. Serebryakov assumed that thus the head of the region decided to ‘lure’ the regional parliament. Because the deputies several times publicly opposed Tolokonsky's initiative to sell the packages of such large companies as Gubernskiye Apteki network and Krasnoyarsknefteprodukt belonging to the region in private hands. And then the head of the region decided to buy their consent to a privatization of state ownership: “Increase of salary is a gratitude of the governor for the fact that deputies of the United Russia party make unpopular decisions, obey him, go against conscience and opinion of voters”.
“I think this all was planned, so that the deputies were more loyal to such his offers, to such processes which not only go against the interests of the Krasnoyarsk Region, but also against the interests of citizens. Therefore it is a gratitude of executive power to its deputies for the fact that they will close their eyes to those processes which lead if not to plunder, then to the fact that these socially important enterprises will be closed”, Serebryakov told in an interview to one of the local online media.
Many analysts also accused Tolokonsky of the incident. Thus, director of the center of political scientific researches of the Financial university Pavel Salin considers that increase in salaries — attempt of the governor-Varangian to provide additional loyalty of local elite.
Now it is difficult for Tolokonsky to respond to such charges. First, the governor was the one who quickly signed the scandalous bill. Secondly, he publicly exposed himself, saying that he does not see anything criminal in the doubling of salaries. Moreover, he considers it justified. Here is how Tolokonsky commented on the situation to local TV channels: “Frankly speaking, the salary of the public servants in the Krasnoyarsk Region is one of the lowest in Russia. In whole Russia, there are almost no similar salaries anymore. It has not been changed for ten or more years, therefore, there are certain bases, arguments”.
Governor Victor Tolokonsky
The public was skeptical about the Tolokonsky's argument. According to data of Rosstat, published in March, the average salary of federal officials following the results of 2016 makes 115,7 thousand rubles ($1 930) — almost twice less, than the Krasnoyarsk parliamentarians want to receive. The list of the regions, where deputies do not even receive the ‘modest’ sum in 100 thousand ($1 667), is pretty long.
The second argument of Tolokonsky did not work as well - that salaries have not been raised for ten and more years. It is enough to study official income statements of the Krasnoyarsk parliamentarians to be convinced of the opposite. For example, annual earnings of deputy Lyudmila Magomedova have grown for the last five years by 400 thousand rubles ($6 669). In 2012 she received 1,75 million rubles ($29 thousand), and in 2016 already 2,15 million rubles ($35 thousand). At the same time, those are ‘lunch money’ in comparison with income of most of her colleagues. Almost all Krasnoyarsk deputies are not poor people. Salary in 200 thousand rubles ($3 334) for many of them will only become a pleasant bonus. Thus, one of the vice-chairmen of the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Region Dmitry Sviridov declared an income in the size of 99,4 million rubles ($1.6 million) following the results of 2016. His colleague Artur Mkrtchan officially reported on earnings in 78,5 million rubles ($1,3 million). This deputy also owns 4 land plots across all Russia, several houses and a whole vehicle fleet — prestigious models of Lexus, Mazda Titan, two KamAZ and two GAZ, a hydro cycle and motorcycle. And the champion by the number of land possession in property among deputies of the regional Legislative Assembly is Yury Danilchenko, he possesses over 400 sites.
By justifying increase in salaries of deputies, Tolokonsky once again undermined his image. Therefore now many Krasnoyarsk deputies followed Serebryakov's example and tried to justify themselves, shifting the fault to the governor. The first such attempt was made by deputy head of department of Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Region Vladimir Koretsky. He gave a simple, but convincing argument: the sensational decision concerns not only parliamentarians, but also all public servants of the region. According to Koretsky, not only parliamentarians will now earn more, but also the staff of the regional government, administration of the governor, Audit Chamber. This also concerns governor, chairman of the regional government, ministers of the region, their deputies, chairmen, vice-president and secretary of regional electoral commission. Thus, guilty persons should be among them. Not only the deputies are responsible for the scandal.
Some parliamentarians put forward a conspiracy version. They decided to pretend that they have fallen a victim of intrigues from above. Saying that they were impudently deceived and 20 thousand rubles a month. In such conditions substituted. In particular, deputy from LDPR Aleksander Gliskov said: he thought that he was voting for an absolutely other bill which is placed on the official Internet portal of legal information of the Krasnoyarsk Region. “The bill in general concerned calculation of an experience of service, there was a conclusion of Audit Chamber upon it, that is does not demand money, and it passed the committee”, Gliskov assures now. Allegedly deputies from United Russia fraudulently made changes to the initial text where there were no words about increase in salaries just before the session. “No one announced the meaning of these amendments at the session. Therefore, without expecting a dirty trick, we voted for the initial text where it was said about calculation of service life, while there was nothing said about salaries in general”, Gliskov justifies himself. And if deputies from opposition had understood what they were voting for, they would surely act against: “We have tens of thousands of state employees living on 20 thousand rubles a month. Raising salaries to ourselves to 200 thousand rubles is a top of immorality in such conditions. There can be no talks about increase in salaries to deputies, until salaries to teachers, doctors, librarians are not raised many times”.
“The truth for many was revealed in a week”, Gliskov insists. “I, frankly speaking, have never faced something similar in my whole deputy activity. Some laws are unclear - tangled formulations. But such occurrence, when there was one text, but another appeared and no one was warned! According to my information, from all Legislative Assembly five people were aware. While the majority were hostages of this situation, when they had one text in front of their eyes, but as a result of shift, another one was accepted. Now we think how to correct the situation. Perhaps there has to be a revoting. We look like complete fools, of course. In my justification I can say: I faced such political setup for the first time in my life”, Gliskov repents. Therefore parliamentarians from LDPR are withdrawing their voices and demand to convene an extraordinary session of the Legislative Assembly to repeal the law.
It is poorly believed that the skilled, professional lawyer did not study the document for which he votes, did not suspect a substitution … Even if it is so, then there is another question: why he, and all other deputies were silent for three more weeks? Why even the opposition did not make a noise? Gliskov also responds to these reproaches: “Frankly speaking, the decision to reveal this situation was hard. But for me and other members of fraction. First, our relations with many colleagues from other fractions will be spoiled forever. Secondly, we did not want to receive a negative wave in our address. From all sides the situation is pretty ugly”.
Deputy Aleksander Gliskov
It is hard to believe that unselfish deputies were impudently deceived. There is only one argument: now the Legislative Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Region discusses an issue of allocation to nonresident parliamentarians of money for rent of housing in the regional center. The bill according to which deputies can lodge in office housing or receive compensation of 30 thousand rubles ($500) is introduced in regional parliament. It is a nice sum considering the fact that it is possible to rent a good three-room apartment in Krasnoyarsk for 20 thousand rubles ($330). It is also offered to refund to people's deputies expenses on the moving including transportation of 5 tons of property. Thus it is difficult to find disinterested persons among the Krasnoyarsk parliamentarians.
Leader of CPRF faction Pyotr Medvedev claims that everyone knew about the bill, including representatives of LDPR: “It is not necessary to create a scandal from it. First of all, in the law it is accurately written to “public servants”, and public servants are not only deputies. For 15 years salaries of heads of village councils, heads of cities, areas and so on have not been raised. During these years we raised salaries to everyone: state employees, doctors, teachers, and all others”.
Ivan Serebryakov called cynical those deputies who at first vote pro, raise salary to themselves, and then hardly find words to prove their decision, and then justify themselves, look for guilty, saying that they were deceived. Serebryakov considers regional parliament theater of the absurd where deputies can change their opinion several times in a week depending on an environment, public response and public relations.
The prosecutor's office of the Krasnoyarsk Region will have to understand who is guilty of the incident. On July 12 the department reported that an inspection of legality action of deputies of the Legislative Assembly is already carried out. The prosecutor's office established that the amendment to the bill providing increase in compensation of the persons replacing the state positions of edge was included in the text of the law in day of the session. Therefore the bill finished to the second reading before its acceptance did not come to prosecutor's office of the Krasnoyarsk Region and did not pass the legal examination in the prosecutor's office. And the document really provides salary increase twice not only to deputies, but also to a number of other officials. So far the check is not complete.
Senator Aleksey Aleksandrov
First deputy head of committee of the Federation Council of constitutional legislation and state construction Aleksey Aleksandrov put the end to the dispute on a moral component of the act of the Krasnoyarsk deputies. According to the senator, parliamentarians have the right for worthy life therefore they have to earn more, than teachers or doctors.
“Because the work of a deputy is more responsible and demanding higher qualification. Position of a doctor, teacher and also patient and school student depends on results of his work. Well, let's not pay deputies at all! Why does a deputy need a car? — let him go by foot. Why does a deputy need a workplace? — let him write on hemp as Lenin did” — Aleksandrov told and called the discussion of the problem of a gap between salaries “insignificant talks”.