Representatives of the ruling party have broadened an initiative of their opponents over the control for foreign expenses of public servants and deputies. The information about their property abroad will be made public, and the concealing of this information will be punished by major fines.
In next few days United Russia deputies intend to pass in the State Duma a bill, which introduces a compulsory written notification about the opening of accounts or striking deals for the purchase of real estate or securities abroad, the Vedomosti daily reported. A source in the staff of State Duma Vice-Speaker Sergei Zheleznyak, who drafted the bill, dwelt on the essence of the document. Four categories of people (people replacing public posts, State Duma deputies, senators and governors) are to report this way. They should submit the information in the same agencies, where they pass the income declarations. The information will be made public at the websites of both houses of parliament, president and heads of the regions. The law is not retrospective.
Criminal responsibility is introduced on three charges: the provision of incomplete and false information and violation of the deadlines for notification will be punished with high fines and correctional works.
Only the income, real estate and cars are declared now, only candidates for deputies declared the information about their accounts and securities.
A Just Russia deputy Ilya Ponomarev has put forward similar initiative before. He suggested checking those, who are keeping over 50% of their savings on the accounts in foreign banks, whether they are acting in favour of other countries.
Zheleznyak supported Ponomarev’s initiative, but decided to specify it. “It is obvious that politicians and public servants, who had a substantial part of their property and funds in other countries, can turn out to be not free in their decisions and come under pressure from foreign countries. People should be aware of this fact and assess the motivation of their activities in the unbiased way,” he noted. Zheleznyak is ready to invite the oppositionists in the co-authors of the bill, because the work on the bill will show, what forces are oriented at the interests of their homeland.
“United Russia is seeking to block my idea to make public servants with foreign assets equal to foreign agents similar to the non-governmental organizations,” Ponomarev pointed out. But he will support the initiative, because he always called for a broader openness in declaration bills. The idea is worth of being considered, Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Constitutional Legislation Vladimir Pligin believes.
Meanwhile, the Kommersant daily reported that two thirds of respondents of the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre (VCIOM) consider the law, which toughens control over non-profit organizations funded from abroad, as a measure to avert foreign interference in Russian domestic affairs. Meanwhile, only 16% of pollsters link the law with the intentions of the authorities to suppress the opposition.
A substantial part of people, who were polled by VCIOM (the sociological survey was conducted among 1,600 people on July 14-15), believe that the law on nongovernmental organizations will result in positive changes. For instance, seven percent of respondents believe that after the enactment of the law “there will be more order, control over the activities of the nongovernmental organizations.” Some part of respondents believe that the enacted document will curb on “foreign interference in Russian domestic affairs” (5%), “the general situation will stabilize,” will make the business “more honest and transparent” (by three percent for each option), will bring “additional budget revenues” and “will bring down the crime rate” (by one percent for each option). In general, 67% of respondents called the law on nongovernmental organizations as “an attempt to protect Russian domestic policy from the influence of foreign countries.”
VCIOM Director General Valery Fedorov explained to the newspaper that the position of most people is linked with the fact that “people usually do not feel any support and protection from nongovernmental organizations, and frequently do not even know about their existence.”