Medvedev seeks teeth for anti-corruption drive

Man's Hand Putin Pile of Cash Into Inside Pocket of SuitcoatPresident Dmitry Medvedev on Monday called for tougher anti-corruption measures as he continues to try to give his fight against graft some teeth.

In the face of criticism that his highly publicized anti-corruption drive has delivered few if any concrete results, the president ordered a step up in checking the income declarations of officials, as well as the system of government procurement orders, reports The Moscow Times.

Legislation requiring officials to declare their and their families income was introduced early in Medvedev's presidency, but the enforcement and investigation of the figures is lacking.

Yesterday, Medvedev asked Prosecutor General Yury Chaika - whose agency is responsible for checking the declarations - to draft legislation to assist prosecutors in the checks. "Prepare the legal amendments. I am ready to support them in order to make the checks more clear and effective," Medvedev said during a video conference.

The president also told Chaika to make information about income checks public. "The power of this effort is in [the information]. If we are going to keep it in cold storage, it would be better not to start any checks at all," he said.

Chaika reported that the list of officials and the information about their incomes is limited, with government agencies and regional administrations free to decide their own lists of which officials who should file declarations. As a result, Chaika said, "positions prone to possible corruption" don't make it into the lists. He named the Transportation Ministry, the Federal Agency for Financial Monitoring and the Federal Consumer Protection Service as agencies whose staff did not file income declarations.

More than 41,000 violations were detected on 2009 income declarations, and 6,000 officials have been reprimanded, he said, but added that these figures are merely the tip of the iceberg. Over 9,000 Interior Ministry officials have failed to report their incomes, whilst of the declarations that were filed, 200 violations were found in the Interior Ministry's headquarters alone, with another 300 violations in the Defense Ministry.

Many of those violations that have been uncovered involve hiding information about owning shares in businesses and participating in the companies' management, adding that several criminal cases have been opened. Chaika also complained that prosecutors don't have legal tools to investigate whether officials keep assets abroad.

Moving to online tenders for state procurement orders, another corruption issue that has increasingly come under public scrutiny, Medvedev demanded that government officials report to him about what has been done to streamline the orders.

"Part of the money is effectively getting stolen, and this must not be tolerated," Medvedev said, adding that officials should explain the initial prices they set for tenders and that the tenders themselves should be better monitored.

Medvedev said last fall that the government loses $30 billion a year to corruption in the tenders and ordered legislation to prevent the graft. Two rival bills - one prepared by the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and the other by the Higher School of Economics - are being considered by the government.

Federal Anti-Monopoly Service head Igor Artemyev said Monday that his agency has developed an online registry mechanism that allows real-time monitoring of every tender and provides access to the tender database for 10 years. Medvedev praised the effort Monday.

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