Commission from Europe will assess the situation in the Russian Parliament, the courts and the Prosecutor’s office
Photo: NEWS/Alexander Kazakov
The anti-corruption agenda in the Parliament, the courts and the Prosecutor’s office will check for compliance with international standards. The Commission group of States against corruption (GRECO) today begins a series of meetings with Russian deputies, senators, judges and prosecutors. The visit will last three days. During this time, the Commission plans to perform lawmaking, principles of lobbying laws and ethical component of the work of the lower chamber, and also to check how the servants filled the Declaration on incomes. The Russian side declares that it has brought anti-corruption legislation in line with international conclusions, however, GRECO may contain new “useful” recommendations.
GRECO delegation arrived in the Russian capital Monday, 27 March. In the composition of the evaluation group is composed of seven experts from Spain, Greece, Poland, Bulgaria, great Britain, Sweden and Italy. Meetings will be held in the building of the Prosecutor office is the main interaction with the group. It is expected that their findings will publish GRECO on Friday, March 31.
What is GRECO
In the group of States against corruption more than 40 countries participating, Russia joined GRECO in 2007. The group’s activities are divided into thematic cycles — the so-called “evaluation rounds”, the results of which are given recommendations for improving anti-corruption policy. Russia has already successfully passed two rounds, the results of the third expected in June 2017, and the current visit GRECO is part of the fourth round. It is known that it refers to the prevention of corruption among parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors.
Meeting of the evaluation Committee with Russian specialists last for three days, from 28 to 30 March. A discussion in the format of question–answer pre-prepared statements are not provided. Each survey is allocated half an hour.
First with international experts will meet representatives of non-governmental organizations, including lobbyists, lawyers ‘ associations and the media. Scheduled interviews with members of all Duma factions and — separately — political parties not represented in Parliament. After that, meetings will be held with representatives of the committees and commissions of both chambers of Parliament.
The lower house will be represented by Deputy head of the Committee for security and combating corruption Anatoly Election (United Russia), first Deputy of the Committee on rules and organization of work of the state Duma Valery Ivanov (EP), head of the Commission on control over reliability of data on incomes and on property Natalia Poklonskaya (EP) and head of Commission on questions of Deputy ethics Otari Arshba (EP).
From the opposition factions by Vladimir Pozdnyakov (CPRF), Yuri sinelshchikov (CPRF), Nikolay Ryzhak (“Fair Russia”), Daniel Shilkov (LDPR) and Dmitry Savelyev (LDPR).
The Federation Council will present the Deputy head of the Committee on rules Sergey Mamedov, and a member of the Commission on control over reliability of information about income Murat Hapsirokov.
What they will ask
Issues not announced in advance, however, members expect that they will ask about the transparency of the creation and adoption of bills. And also about the ethical principles and rules of conduct, procedures for the prevention and resolution of conflicts when making documents, Declaration of income and participation of members in commercial activities.
— I assume the experts will be interested in how our anti-corruption legislation meets different factions, are there any differences as far as considered opinions and initiatives of various groups, — have informed “news” Deputy Chairman of the security Committee Anatoly Vyborny. — It may be possible to find out how effective the mechanism for Stripping MPs of their immunity and status, when the question on excitation of criminal case.
The Deputy has not excluded that will focus on lobbying Parliament: the European experts are interested in how transparent and accountable the activities of the state Duma.
— The basic Federal law on lobbyism in Russia yet, but the institution exists, it is sufficiently developed and works. So, we have the chamber of Commerce, the national Union of lobbyists, the Russian Union of Industrialists and entrepreneurs, Committee for civic initiative and “Support of Russia”, — said the MP.
The Chairman of the Commission on parliamentary ethics of state Duma Otari Arshba told “Izvestia” that the group had requested materials according to the regulations of the state Duma.
— I have many sources that I can rely on in the work of the Commission. There is a law on the status of the Deputy of the state Duma and member of the Federation Council, where detailed information on all rights and responsibilities. There is the Duma regulations. Is approved by the President “the General principles of official conduct of civil servants”, and we are equal to civil servants, he explained.
What do you expect from the work of the Commission
Interviewed by “Izvestia”, the deputies are convinced that you will worthily represent Russia in front of the Commission GRECO. They note that domestic legislation and practice already conform to international standards and continue to improve. At that, the special loyalty from the Commission no one is waiting.
— In General, we have a strong anti-corruption legislation, all applicable good, although there is much to develop. In General, the work with helpful GRECO: third-party opinion always makes you grow. But the estimates of international experts against Russia, especially on such a significant issue as the fight against corruption, unfortunately, are not always sufficiently justified, and the recommendations are often quite controversial — said the first Deputy Chairman of state Duma Committee on state construction Yury sinelshchikov.
Anatoly Vyborny also noted that in Russia there is a workable anti-corruption legislation.
— I believe that we will successfully carry out these negotiations. Compared to our European laws in this area are much more developed and thought out. We are building a position which corresponds to our internal and external state policy, and not going to anyone to flirt, he said.
The Prosecutor General’s office believe that GRECO is of great importance in the framework of the anti-corruption agenda.
— As a rule, unlike many other sites, the work of GRECO in the main areas is carried out on a professional basis and less prone to politicization, the work is open and transparent, — has declared “news” in a press-Department service. All taken at the plenary meetings, evaluation reports and reports on their implementation, as well as decisions of the plenary meetings are published on the official website of GRECO. With regard to Russia have already made recommendations, the implementation of some of them gave us practical assistance in the prevention corruption and struggle with it.
In the third round of evaluation, Russia has no outstanding recommendations, all the suggestions of the evaluators fully or partially realized, reminded in a press-service. A number of amendments to the criminal code and legislation on political parties and elections at various levels. For example, in terms of transparency of financing of political organizations, use the provided parties loans, independent audit and research.
In addition, GRECO recommended that at the legislative level to include in the bribe subject intangible benefits (e.g. promotion, positive reviews in the press, the issuance of diploma of education). The Prosecutor General’s office has developed the relevant draft amendments to the criminal code, which, after extensive expert discussion, sent to the Ministry of justice of the Russian Federation.
Interviewed by “Izvestia” experts believe that the anti-corruption expertise is needed, however, indicate a possible bias on the part of Western partners.
— We fear that the process of implementing the recommended measures may be subject to politicization by individual participating countries. GRECO experts often go beyond their authority. Definitely would have liked to avoid, since our country has made to improve the fight against corruption much more than we expected, — said the head of National anticorruption Committee Kirill Kabanov.
Member of the expert Council under the government and the working group on combating corruption Sergei Strelnikov, in contrast, believes that Russia can learn from the international community. In his opinion, the European legislation from 2012 (when summed up the results of the previous evaluation round) took a big step forward.
On 29 March members of GRECO will meet with the judicial community, March 30 — prosecutors at all levels. In addition, planned interviews with representatives of the Investigative Committee of Russia and the presidential administration. Also allocated time for additional meetings — they can ask appraisers. On 31 March the planned totals of work of the group.