Russian Internet TV Show Discusses Authorities' Inability To Fight Corruption

Hands Holding Open Envelope Containing CashThe 24 February issue of the online talk show "Civil Defence", shown on the website of Russian state news agency RIA Novosti and hosted by Svetlana Sorokina, featured a discussion on corruption in the country and efforts to fight against it. The programme was entitled "Doomed to bribery".

The deputy chairman of the State Duma committee on Constitutional Legislation and State-Building, Viktor Ilyukhin, who represents the Communist Party, said that the recent corruption revelations should not be viewed as a "start of a big campaign to fight against corruption", as Russia only uses legal methods to fight against it, not financial or organizational.

Commenting on the recently uncovered illegal casino ring in Moscow Region, Ilyukhin said that the head of the Investigations Committee Aleksandr Bastrykin was not likely to invent a case against Moscow Region prosecutors without any foundation in reality. But Yuriy Chayka's term in office as prosecutor-general is running out soon, and the timing of this corruption scandal may mean that he will not be reappointed, Ilyukhin said.

He said that President Dmitriy Medvedev's attempts to fight against corruption will not be effective as long as the federal government is formed the way it is, by nepotism, family ties and studies at the same universities, which means that frankpledge exists. There will only be an imitation of a fight against corruption, and only to the extent that is not dangerous to the authorities, Ilyukhin thinks.

About 30 per cent of money in Russia is circulating on the black market, which means any figures of authority can be bought, and that provides easily available funding for extremists and terrorists, Ilyukhin said. The impotence of the entire law-enforcement system, from police to the courts, means that national security is threatened, he said.

The adviser to the head of the Constitutional Court, Police Maj-Gen (retd) Vladimir Ovchinskiy, said that recent corruption revelations were not so much a political affair, or a struggle within the duumvirate (of Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin), they were just cases of corruption and it was impossible to keep them covered up. It started with the mass killing in the Krasnodar Territory village of Kushchevskaya in 2010, followed by numerous other corruption cases in other towns and cities like Gus-Khrustalnyy, Engels or Stavropol, and it was also impossible to conceal cases like those against former Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov or former head of the Moscow metro Dmitriy Gayev, Ovchinskiy said, adding that the timing was a coincidence.

Revolutions in Tunisia or Egypt were caused by people's outrage with corruption, and Russia's leaders thought they should do something about corruption, too, Ovchinskiy said. The December 2010 riot on Moscow's Manezhnaya square was "our own Arab revolution", as it was aimed not at people from the North Caucasus, but at corruption, Ovchinskiy said.

"All the kickbacks in Russia are a threat to national security", Ovchinskiy said, because the money is spent on things no-one needs, such as innovative technologies. Certain law-enforcement structures cannot move forward unless their leadership and their ideology are replaced, Ovchinskiy said. "The ongoing faux reform of the Interior Ministry does not cleanse it, but leads to further degradation", Ovchinskiy said. "The authorities' ability to manage the situation is doubtful", he added. Inability of the State Duma to conduct parliamentary investigations means that there is nothing to control in the law-enforcement agencies, and civil society has even less power than the State Duma does, Ovchinskiy said.

Ilyukhin and Ovchinskiy have both sharply criticized Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, questioning whether he is fit to hold his post after failing to prevent a terrorist attack on Moscow's Domodedovo airport in January and after awarding Sergey Kucheruk, former head of the Interior Ministry Main Directorate for Krasnodar Territory, who was earlier dismissed by Medvedev for his role in covering up the events in Kushchevskaya. Ovchinskiy called it "dementia of the Interior Ministry's leadership".

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