Kremlin vows tough steps to fight graft in Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Top Russian politicians will have to declare their finances in full under new draft laws to fight corruption, a Kremlin official said on Tuesday, unveiling details of a promised crackdown by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Medvedev himself told his Anti-Corruption Council that he would pursue his anti-graft campaign without being distracted by the conflict with Georgia that has dominated Russian politics and damaged relations with the West.

“Some voices have been heard that after various kinds of events -- for instance, such as the August conflict in the Caucasus -- Russia will wind up this (anti-corruption) work and will not act,” state television showed a stern Medvedev telling members of the council.

The Kremlin would “on the contrary, redouble efforts” to fight corruption, Medvedev said.

Last week, watchdog Transparency International published a survey calculating that corruption in Russia was at its worst for eight years. In a table of world nations with the cleanest at the top, Russia was ranked joint 147th with Bangladesh, Kenya and Syria.

Common examples include bribes to place children in kindergartens or prestigious schools, “cash fines” demanded by traffic police from drivers, payments by young men to avoid army conscription, and the purchase of university diplomas.

Corruption is a perennial problem in Russia and previous leaders have had little success tackling it, despite frequent pledges to do so. Medvedev’s predecessor Vladimir Putin, now prime minister, oversaw unprecedented economic growth during his eight years in power but made little headway against graft.


Medvedev said in July that even official jobs were very often sold, calling it an “outrageous” practice that discredited the state and held back Russia’s development.

Sergei Naryshkin, chief of Medvedev’s staff charged with drafting anti-corruption laws, said a set of blueprints would be submitted to parliament for approval within the next two days.

“One of the proposed legal clauses obliges the head of the government, his deputies and federal ministers to declare their property, incomes and property commitments,” Naryshkin told Russian agencies after the Anti-Corruption Council’s meeting.

“This also refers to family members of the head of the government, his deputies and federal ministers.”

Another measure would bar officials for two years after their quit their jobs from joining private businesses with which they had contact while working for the state.

He said all state employees would be duty-bound to report to their bosses about cases of corruption they noticed at work.

In Tsarist times, corruption was Russia’s scourge. Graft, partly kept in check by fear of Stalinist purges, started to flourish again in the last few decades of the Soviet Union.

Analysts say after the Soviet Union’s overnight demise in 1991 corruption acquired yet more threatening proportions, breeding widespread cynicism and mistrust in the state itself.

Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Mark Trevelyan