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MOSCOW, February 4. /ITAR-TASS/. Anti-corruption foundation RosPil led by the opposition politician Alexei Navalny has received an invitation for cooperation with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development (MED). Provisionally, RosPil will take part in the ministry’s expert council to finalize and implement the law on state procurements that came into force on January 1, 2014.
The MED’s press office confirmed this news to Itar-Tass: “The civil council on the development of the procurement system will comprise proxies of many non-governmental organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, business and anti-corruption organizations, civil activists. The MED is ready to cooperate with all parts of civil society keen to restore order in the procurement system and uproot abuse in this field.”
Lawyers from RosPil have been cited among the invited experts. The foundation’s name in Russian is a hardly translatable pun based on Russian entrepreneurs’ slang expression similar to the English ‘siphoning off’ - corrupt schemes giving officials part of the funds designated for state or commercial procurements.
Notably, Navalny initially achieved fame in fighting corruption. Last autumn he finished second in Moscow mayor election with 27% of votes.
“RosPil foundation is ready to cooperate with the Ministry of Economic Development, yet not to boast the very fact of cooperation, but to achieve concrete constructive results, to eliminate systemic mistakes in the implementation of state contracts and procurements,” RosPil’s lawyer Maria Sobol told Itar-Tass.
Previously, RosPil’s lawyers partook in the procurement bill’s test for corruption on the State Duma’s invitation. “It was fruitful cooperation. This may be the reason why the MED expressed interest in our specialists, this time to see how the new law works in practice,” said Sobol.
The federal law on a contract system in state procurements is aimed to provide publicity and transparency and prevent corruption and other abuse.
“Going cap in hand to Navalny is the ministry’s mistake,” believes the head of the Itar-Tass political analysis center Pavel Danilin. “RosPil foundation was intended not to fight corruption, but to put a positive spin on the opposition leader’s image, to solve his commercial tasks and fight unwanted rivals.”
However, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, member of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Kirill Kabanov, thinks different. He mentioned a so-called open government that was set up on the basis of the president’s decree and aimed to improve civil society institutions providing the state authorities’ interaction with non-governmental organizations, movements and expert boards has been active in Russia since 2012.
“Therefore, inviting a number of NGOs by the MED, including Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, is a sure sign of the ministry's openness, the wish of new-generation state officials to attract specialists to prevent abuse in state procurements,” Kabanov said.
“Importantly, the MED invites pundits irrespective of their political views but on the basis of professionalism,” the expert believes.
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