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Russian elite committed to austerity

March 27, 2013, 10:57 UTC+3

The Levada Centre sociologists summarised the interim results of the country’s anti-corruption campaign

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On Tuesday, the Levada Centre sociologists summarised the interim results of the country’s anti-corruption campaign. They found that the vast majority of Russians believe that the president and prime minister should be personally responsible for embezzlements committed by their subordinates. Two-thirds of those polled demand that property qualification be introduced for the officials and parliamentarians. Meanwhile, members of parliament one after another have been surrendering their mandates preferring not to wait for the investigation concerning their foreign accounts and real estate.

There are reasons to believe that the changed rules of the game in the power are called upon to help Vladimir Putin to create a new stratum of the political elite, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes. The main emphasis will be placed be not on the origin personnel and territorial, as it was before, but on the reputation of real ascetics, the people indifferent to the material values.

Russians consider government officials, members of the Federation Council and the State Duma upper and lower houses of parliament to be the richest representatives of the authorities in the country. It is for them that they propose to introduce property qualification. Over 85 percent of the respondents believe that ex-ministers Anatoly Serdyukov and Yelena Skrynnik should be put to trial, according to a poll conducted by the Levada Centre in March. The Russians have proposed to fight against corruption in the State Duma by the introduction of property qualification. As many as 62 percent of those polled called for making this qualification a mandatory requirement for admission to the civil service, stressing that officials should be aware of the conditions in which “ordinary people live.” Next on the list of the richest public officers, after parliamentarians and ministers, are officials of the presidential administration (33 percent), employees of state corporations (25 percent) and regional officials (21 percent).

Every third respondent (33 percent) believes that it is indecent for an official or an MP to be a very rich person. Almost half of the respondents – 44 percent even called it a crime.

After Vladimir Putin delivered his state-of-the nation address to the Federal Assembly, nine MPs have left the State Duma. Three members have left the Federation Council. Meanwhile, the scandals related to the parliamentarians’ having major property abroad do not cease, but are on the rise. On Tuesday, FC member Vitaly Malkin, earlier accused by blogger Alexei Navalny of owning property in the United States and Canada, announced his intention to resign.

New elements of the political style of President Vladimir Putin, on the face of it, bring chaos to the relations established between the country’s leadership and the ruling class, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily emphasises. These relations have always been characterised by stability, which has become not only a slogan, but also the basis of managing the country. Putin’s current policy to reveal corrupt officials by monitoring their foreign accounts and property have generated unprecedented turbulence within the elites. The Ethics Commission of the State Duma has suddenly turned into an influential body, like the Commission for verification of MPs’ declarations. Not only oppositionists are leaving the parliament, but also representatives of the majority party. Experts have predicted early dissolution of the lower house and the resignation of the government.

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