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The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office intends to introduce criminal persecution for non-monetary bribes

September 07, 2012, 14:05 UTC+3

The experts take the offered novelties sceptically, assuming that they will not promote the struggle against corruption

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MOSCOW, September 7 (Itar-Tass) — Under the recommendations of the Group of States against corruption (GRECO) the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office is drafting some amendments in the Criminal Code, which make nonmaterial services and advantages, the market price of which cannot be found, equal to bribes, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman told Itar-Tass on Friday. The experts take the offered novelties sceptically, assuming that they will not promote the struggle against corruption.

The term ‘bribe’ in the Russian legislation does not encompass fully all cases of bribery, GRECO said in its March report over the result of monitoring for Russia’s fulfilment of the Council of European Criminal Law Convention on Corruption that the Vedomosti daily cited. The object of bribe can be benefits or material services along with money and material valuables, but the monetary evaluation of this benefit should be specified in the verdict and this is the recommendations of the Supreme Court. So, nonmaterial advantages that cannot be calculated in the monetary form stay beyond the effect of the criminal law. The GRECO emissaries took as nonmaterial advantages positive responses in the press, the promotion in the career or the provision of more opportunities in the work, the issue of certificates and the provision of sexual services. According to them, the responsibility for “the trade in influence” is not quite severe in Russia (when a person takes money for an opportunity to influence a decision made by the public servant), and the statutes of limitations for little bribes are too brief.

Most exports, which the Vedomosti daily polled, doubt that the punishment for nonmaterial advantages will be efficient in Russian conditions. “The criminal legal norm should be absolutely clear-cut, otherwise, it will only spur up corruption,” Viktoria Burkovskaya from the Yegorov, Puginsky, Afanasyev and Partners Company warned. Even the UK Bribery Act does not contain such restrictions, but this is one of the most progressive laws in the struggle against corruption. The abuse of nonmaterial advantages should be averted not by the measures of criminal persecution, but by the close regulation of the status of public servant and a detailed analysis of how the fixed restrictions are observed, Burkovskaya said with confidence.

The introduction of the legal norm of assessment and on the article for a heinous crime is very dangerous, particularly with due account of the level of trust to our judicial system, lawyer Mikhail Barshchevsky warned. Actually the GRECO recommendations are general and should not be directly introduced in Russia, Barshchevsky believes.

“The anti-corruption initiatives cannot be expected to be particularly efficient,” head of the interregional association of human rights organizations Agora Pavel Chikov told the Novye Izvestia daily. “This is just because the overwhelming majority of previous initiatives failed to improve the situation seriously. The initiators of these measures oriented towards the Western societies with the long-standing law enforcement practice and the relevant attitude to corruption,” Chikov said.

The newspaper recalled that according to the organization Transparency International, Russia was ranked at the 143rd place from 182 possible places at the same level with Uganda and Nigeria in 2011.

Expert of the law firm Private Law Vitaly Nakhratov, who is cited by the RBC daily, noted that the definition of bribe given in Article 290 of the Criminal Code, also includes any nonmaterial services, the price of which can be set by the professional auditor. The current audit standards make it possible to assess almost any goods, he said.

The Russian authorities consistently ignore another GRECO recommendation, the newspaper noted. The organization insists on the automatic investigation of all the cases, when the expenses of public servants exceeded their incomes. So, the purchase of a yacht or an expensive car by any state official should be immediately checked in the supervising agencies.

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