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Lawmakers urge Russia's Education Minister to get rid of ‘trail of corruption’

October 09, 2013, 11:57 UTC+3

"Facts of corruption in the Ministry of Education during the Unified State Examination require the most thorough investigation," MP Vladimir Burmatov said

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MOSCOW, October 9 (Itar-Tass) - In the run-up to the Government Hour of questions and answers at the State Duma lower house of Russia’s parliament the MPs have urged Education Minister Dmitry Livanov to get rid of the “corruption trail.”

“The key system problem of the Education Ministry that requires immediate attention solution is corruption in the ministry,” member of the United Russia party Vladimir Burmatov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday. According to him, it is corruption “that caused the failure of the Unified State Examination (USE) 2013 campaign and jeopardized the project for the reorganization of universities and other initiatives of the Education Ministry.”

Within the framework of the Government Hour the education minister “should give satisfactory answers concerning measures to eradicate corruption in the ministry,” said the MP. He expressed confidence that the supervision over the legality and effectiveness of spending budget funds by the ministry’s officials should also be ensured through parliamentary control.

In addition, “the facts of corruption in the Ministry of Education during the Unified State Examination, including those related to leaking the exam’s assignments, which the ministry has tried to blame on some non-existent “hackers” that allegedly hacked into the ministry’s mail, require the most thorough investigation,” Burmatov continued. He stressed the need to give “an additional legal assessment, including by the parliament, to the ministry’s attempts to spend 300 million rubles from the budget on fighting off this fictional threat.” “In particular, it is possible to create an inter-faction working group in the Duma, which would independently assess the really important directions of the USE modernization where these funds could be allotted,” said the United Russia member.

Also, in the view of Burmatov, it is necessary to study and assess the “corruption factor during the ministry’s monitoring of the effectiveness of universities and reorganization of educational establishments, manipulations with performance indicators in the rankings and unification of universities on false grounds.” “There is an outrageous situation with Moscow State Mining University, which once ranked in the top five of Russia’s leading technical universities and that was destroyed by the Education Ministry on the basis of a non-existent decision of the Conciliation Commission of the Public Chamber, which did not hold a meeting on this matter at all,” he said. “Obviously, this university simply was ‘unlucky’ to have huge property in a prestigious district of Moscow, on which someone had set sights,” the lawmaker believes. “As a result of these actions of the Education Ministry effective educational establishments are endangered, while the dummy ones that sell diplomas, continue to work.”

In addition, Burmatov believes, “it is necessary to follow to the logical end the investigation of the criminal cases, in which the education minister himself may become a defendant, in particular, the criminal case of embezzlement of budget funds in the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys (MISA), Minister of Education Livanov had been rector, and the first vice-rector - his current first deputy (Natalia) Tretyak. “It concerns the embezzlement of budget funds on a very large scale - 57 million rubles went to the accounts of front companies,” the politician said.

He recalled that the case had been opened in 2009 against the leadership of the university, after which it was apparently “hushed up” with reference to the fact that it was allegedly lost. “It has been reopened and investigation on it has been resumed with the help of parliamentary inquiries. Now those six people who had “lost” it have already been dismissed,” said the lawmaker. “Both Livanov and Tretyak are so far witnesses in this case. Moreover, it is not the only high-profile case in Livanov’s MISA,” he said.

“Both the minister and his department should get rid of this “trail of corruption” and start a real fight against corruption in the Ministry of Education. In this situation, the parliamentary control over the activities of the Education Ministry, over the spending of budget funds by the ministry and the implementation of the declared programs is an essential element of normalizing the ministry’s work,” Burmatov concluded. 

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