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Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted in the State Duma a bill, which bans Russian state officials to have accounts in foreign banks, as well as shares and any securities of foreign countries. The deputies have their own bill with similar bans, which was already approved in the first reading. The experts do not see any difference between two bills, believing that the presidential variant is related with the image and only making the president an initiator of the idea.
The president proposed to ban “to open and have accounts and deposit the money in foreign banks,” and possess state securities to all “officials, who take decisions over the sovereignty and national security of Russia as the duties of their state service,” the Kommersant daily noted. The ban embraces not only state officials, but also their close relatives, including the spouses and underage children.
However, the newspaper recalled that last summer the State Duma deputies have drafted the same bill, which banned state officials and members of their families not only to have bank accounts abroad, but also foreign real estate. Now the deputies will have to delay the drafting of this bill and probably to introduce additional amendments in it stemming from the presidential variant of the bill. The president insists in an explanatory note that his bill should be approved in the package with the State Duma bill.
Contrary to the State Duma bill the presidential bill envisages checks of those state officials, against whom there is “sufficient information” that they or members of their families have accounts abroad. If this information is confirmed this state official should be fired, the presidential bill holds.
It is not ruled out that the president will submit his bill “to raise the status” of the idea, president of the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation Mikhail Vinogradov told the Kommersant daily. The deputy idea “will always have some opponents to torpedo it.”
Meanwhile, the deputy idea envisages criminal responsibility for violations of the ban, and even a fine, which will be levied under the articles of the Criminal Code and entails a conviction for a state official, the newspaper noted. The presidential bill envisages as punishment the dismissal of state officials and early termination of the powers of the lawmakers.
“The fact that Vladimir Putin submitted the bill in the State Duma means that he assumes the role of a top referee, and as the bill establishes the relations with the elite it is important for Putin to make himself the author of the bill,” the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily quoted deputy general director of the Centre of Political Technologies Boris Makarenko as saying. However, it is impossible to predict how efficient this novelty will be in the struggle against corruption, the expert believes. In his words, if the bill does not ban the possession of real estate and the shares in the companies, some shadow zone is being created “deliberately or light-mindedly”.
The Kremlin bill will help to lift all questions among members of the Federation Council that previously opposed strongly a ban for foreign real estate possession, the RBC daily noted. Many senators possess “remote countryside houses” in Europe and the United States before they were vested with the mandates in the upper house of Russian parliament.
The bill has developed weakly the procedure of inspections of state officials and their personal responsibility for the possession of banned assets and false declarations, the Vedomosti daily noted. These mechanisms are in effect in other countries for a long time and Russia would be able to learn them.
The presidential bill envisages an ambiguous procedure of checking the declarations, the newspaper believes. Let’s begin with the fact that only the information of the law enforcement agencies, political parties and public organizations (what a broad market of denunciation and mudslinging!) and federal media should be checked. It turns out that the information of regional newspapers and television companies, as well as the investigations of the bloggers will not be checked.