Presidential auditor fired for bribes as corruption gets worse

Paper Currency Be Placed into Inner Suitcoat PocketA senior presidential aide has been fired for bribery, just as a damning Council of Europe report shows that Russia meets only one quarter of anti-corruption measures it prescribed, well below the passing grade of two thirds.

An investigation discovered a fraud ring which included former deputy health minister Alexei Vilkin and managers from large medical companies.

"The management of audit office had doubts about the actions of one of the employees," the interior ministry's economic department said in statement. "It was established in the investigation that he helped the fraudsters. As a result, the head of one of the departments, A. Voronin, was dismissed for gross violation of duties and detained," RIA Novosti reported.

Against that background, a damning report from European anti-corruption bodies says Russia has succeeded in just 7 out of 26 recommendations about tackling the problem.

Hardly a breakthrough

Nikolai Petrov, Carnegie Centre analyst, is unimpressed. Despite Medvedev's loud noises about cutting corruption he says there are no real efforts being made.

"The reason why among 26 points only a handful were realised is a clear demonstration that the fight Medvedev announced is only a very limited fight against corruption," he told The Moscow News.

Ivan Ninenko, Transparency International deputy director, was equally damning. "Russia did not publish its progress report and still has not in full. This lack of transparency completely undermines president Medvedev's anti-corruption drive," he told The Moscow News.

Not that Petrov reckons that drive amounts to much in the first place.

"In many cases it is a tool which makes it possible for different elite clans to fight with one another," he said by telephone.

Referring to the case of Voronin he slated the Kremlin's half hearted attempts at cracking down, "Instead of decreasing corruption these partial efforts only make it worse," he said.

Sinking sensation

It's hardly an isolated case, either, with the Council of Europe's anti-corruption measures making little progress here.

The latest progress report shows Russia has managed to fully implement just seven of the 26 recommendations, partially developing 14 and failing to tackle the remaining five, Vedomosti reported.

While judges, tax collectors, and law enforcement officers have been receiving training in how to deal with corruption, gaping holes remain. Many corruption offences attract only limited liability, with indiscretions often treated as administrative crimes.

And one man's corruption is another's legitimate practice. "There are huge numbers of immune persons in Russia, who don't get prosecuted, Duma members, judges, prosecutors and so on," Ninenko said.

Public discontent

Public feeling is mounting across the country and an angry crowd, pictured above, gathered in Kaliningrad on Tuesday to protest against corruption levels and to demand the dismissal of a string of regional Duma deputies and members of the city council, as well as criticising law enforcement and government structures in the region. Organisers claimed 1,000 demonstrators came out to protest, official reports say 500, Rusnovosti reported.

Giving a break

The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) is taking a gentle approach towards Russia's faltering fight.

Moscow is being given a further 18 months to implement the proposals and currently faces no sanctions, in light of the drastic changes to the legal system that the measures would require, a source close to the Russian delegation in Strasbourg told Vedomosti..

Another report is due in mid 2012.

Getting worse

Russia slipped to 154th place in Transparency International's 2010 Corruption Index, down 8 from last year, the organisation announced last month.

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