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Transparency International-Russia recommends improvements to the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption

Transparency International-Russia held a roundtable on ‘the Implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption in Russia’. TI-R compiled a report, produced with UNDEF funding, which reviews Russian implementation and enforcement of selected articles (15, 16, 17, 20, 23, 26, 32, 33, 35, 36) in chapters III (Criminalisation and Law Enforcement) and IV (International Cooperation).

The UNCAC was adopted by Russia in 2003 and came into effect in December 2005. The convention includes measures to promote the prevention and criminalisation of corruption, law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, technical assistance and information exchange.

Whilst the Russian legal framework is partially compliant with UNCAC, according to the report, the Russian legal code conflicts with the aims of the Convention. E.g. Art. 290-291 of the Criminal Code reduces the severity of punishment for corruption, by limiting it exclusively to fines. There are also many persons who currently enjoy the protection of immunity to prosecution and these two factors render the implementation of Art.15-16 ineffective. There is only one activity that can result in prosecution: the embezzlement or misappropriation of funds above the sum of 1,500,000 roubles. This decriminalises the misuse of funds up to this very high figure. Other issues include the lack of protection for whistle-blowers and the lack of criminalisation of an offered bribe resulting in penalisation of only a completed bribe.

In 2011 Presidential Decree Number 460 made necessary additions, such as making it illegal to bribe a foreign official, to the 2008 anti-corruption plan. Political statements by the former and incumbent Presidents of Russia along with amendments to the Criminal and Administrative Codes indicate willingness to international cooperation on the convention.

Yet, there is still progress to be made. The TI-R report suggests seven recommendations for priority action; creation of effective liability of legal persons; reduction in the number of persons who enjoy immunity; reform of the judicial and law enforcement systems in order to implement principles of transparency, democracy and independence; strengthening of sanctions for bribe-taking; enacting of legislation which protects whistle-blowers; the raising of awareness amongst civil society of mechanisms for monitoring the authorities, and, finally; the implementation of either legislation on conflict of interests or employment restrictions to curb the ‘revolving door syndrome’ between public office and private industry.

The TI-R report was created in compliance with the framework of the UNCAC, which requires both governmental self-assessment of the implementation of the convention in tandem with that of relevant Non-Governmental Organisations. The information on which this report was based was only accessible through assurances that the information was for internal circulation and report purposes. The government does not intend to make its self-assessment public in the future.

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