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A bill submitted to the State Duma lower house of the Russian parliament on Monday introduces additional control over spending by officials suspected of corruption. The proposed initiative envisions fines up to five million rubles and 15 years imprisonment for theft of budget money, depending on the gravity of crime.
But the experts polled by the newspaper Novye Izvestia said even such harsh penalties would not help decrease the rate of crimes of corruption.
The document says the Criminal Code should add a new article "on theft of budget money or assets of state-owned companies and corporations," which should be punished by a one-million to five-million ruble fine and four to 20 years in prison depending on the stolen sum and the method by which the crime of corruption was committed.
Irina Yarovaya, the author of the document, called for reviewing it as soon as possible.
Director of the Center for Political Studies at the Financial University Pavel Salin believes that the severity of punishment does not contribute to a decrease in crimes of corruption. "Jurisprudence has a notion that the inevitability of punishment is much more effective in decreasing the crime rate than the severity of punishment. That is, if small prison terms are meted out for 50 percent of corrupted officials, it will bring more good compared with life imprisonment for half a percentage point of them."
Lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov notes: "we have no institutions of parliamentary control, we have no independent courts; all the power belongs to officials, and this power, in effect, is limitless. If we don't carry out major political reforms, no fines or prison terms will help resolve the problem," Gudkov told Novye Izvestia.
Lawmaker Vadim Solovyov, head of the legal service of the Communist Party, believes that "only capital punishment for large damage, confiscation of property and criminal responsibility for mismatch between the officials' spending and income can become an effective means to fight corruption." The latter measure is envisioned in Article 20 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which Russia has not ratified up to date," the newspaper Kommersant quoted him as saying.