The positive role of civil society in Russia

The positive role of civil society in Russia

TI Russia Badge Checking Day

In these photos, journalists, civic activists and employees of Transparency International Russia participate in 'Badge Checking Day' on 22 April 2012. They checked whether police officers in ten Russian cities had badges on their uniforms, as required by new rules in the country.

With civil society groups including Transparency International Russia facing heightened inspections from the authorities, we share a recent article by Miklos Marschall, Deputy Managing Director of Transparency International's Secretariat. It was originally published on our blog on 6 May 2013.

No one has all the answers: the positive role of civil society in Russia

Last week the Moscow City Prosecutor’s Office sent to Transparency International Russia an official warning to register as a foreign agent. This came because the Prosecutor said TI Russia was shaping public opinion about government policies in the field of law enforcement and had an impact on the adoption by State institutions of laws and regulations.

In Russian, the term foreign agent is synonymous with spy and would mean that TI-Russia is heavily influenced from abroad. We would beg to differ.

Like the more than 100 other Transparency International chapters around the world, TI-Russia fights corruption. That is not a political activity per se, rather a public good, but without doubt it requires interactions with politicians because stopping corruption means introducing sound policies.

In order to stop corruption you need the appropriate legal framework and strong institutions; to ensure that these are in place requires engaging with the political process to develop the policies that then become laws; it also requires a civil society engaged with the process to monitor that these laws are implemented.

TI-Russia, like every member of TI movement, does not enter politics to make this happen. It doesn’t field or fund candidates at elections, and it does not endorse one political party over another. The Transparency International movement mission statement makes it perfectly clear that we fight corruption using non-partisan, non-political activities.

We do this in many different ways.

First and foremost we need to convince people that corruption hurts all of us, stifles economic activity and disadvantages the weakest members of society. We hold education workshops, we bring young people together to discuss solutions and we have even been known to use cartoon characters that show people how to say no to bribes.

In Senegal our chapter Forum Civil believes the creation of an anti-corruption commission will help. In Brazil, our contact group Amarribo joined with other civil society organisations to push parliament to pass a law that barred people with criminal records standing for public office.

In the UK our chapter believed that fighting corruption required a specific law in parliament detailing what was considered a bribe in public procurement and business, and thus was born the Bribery Act of 2011. The UK government invited TI-UK, along with many other stakeholders, to give its opinion on the legislation. The law was passed because people were fed up with the number of scandals that tarnished UK business operations around the world.

In 2010 when the Russian government posted the draft police reform law online for citizens and non-governmental organisations to comment, TI Russia submitted five suggestions, two of which were incorporated into the final law including the provision for police officers to wear badges.

We are not unique in what we do. Ten years ago, the United Nations adopted the Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the result of 10 years of lobbying efforts to have an international blueprint that describes what governments need to have in place to fight corruption. Russia is a signatory to the UNCAC since 2003.

In 1994 the OECD adopted its Convention against Foreign Bribery, also the result of many years of work conducted by civil society, including Transparency International, to make, among other things, bribing foreign officials illegal. Russia has also signed on to this.

This week Transparency International Russia will argue against the warning levelled at it by the Moscow City Prosecutors Office and try to explain the positive role of civil society in the fight against corruption.

No one has all the answers, not one party, not one government. It is civil society’s role to engage in the policy, not in the political debate, and share its experience. TI Chapters work on what is demanded by the people of their country. That is what civil society is: the voice of the people. Russians, as the government knows, consider corruption in their country a major problem. Civil society can help.

We hope that the Russian government, which is pursuing policies to stifle the voice of civil society, comes to realise that this is counter-productive and will reverse its position.

It is worth remembering, in this context, that laws that today guarantee civil liberties, human rights, safe working conditions and equal voting rights came about because people – civil society – challenged the status quo. We’ll keep working together with civil society to shape, together with governments, a fairer world.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Latest

Support Transparency International

Strengthening rule of law along the cocaine route

Transparency International has teamed up with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and INTERPOL, to implement the CRIMJUST Project, funded by the European Union. The project aims to strengthen criminal investigation and criminal justice cooperation along the cocaine route in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.

Political asylum for ex-presidents: an easy way to impunity?

This year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration. Yet while we celebrate the universality of human rights, at times powerful individuals try to abuse the principles that underpin the international human rights framework. Two recent cases of two ex-presidents who have applied for political asylum to evade justice, and two countries who handled these requests in very different ways, highlight some of these abuses.

International Anti-Corruption Day 2018: The power of people’s pressure

Across the world, Transparency International chapters work hard to help the public become involved and engaged in the fight against corruption.

La Justicia española debe investigar el lavado de imagen de Azerbaiyán en Europa

Tres políticos españoles —Pedro Agramunt, Agustín Conde Bajén y Jordi Xuclá— se encuentran entre los delegados ante la Asamblea Parlamentaria del Consejo de Europa (APCE) sobre los que pesan sospechas de haberse beneficiado con la maniobra del “Laundromat”.

Clean up Spain – Justice for Azerbaijan’s reputation laundering in Europe

In Azerbaijan, critical voices are routinely suppressed. Meanwhile in Europe, politicians suspected of helping whitewash Azerbaijan’s record on human rights enjoy impunity. Join our campaign to urge authorities in Spain to investigate.

Everything you need to know about the 18th International Anti-Corruption Conference (#18IACC)

The #18IACC will take place from 22-24 October in Copenhagen, Denmark under the theme Together for Development, Peace and Security: Now is the Time to Act. Get the latest info and updates here!

Risky business: Europe’s golden visa programmes

Are EU Member States accepting too much risk in their investor migration schemes?

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media