Another giant leap for Yuri Baturin - Destination Earth
After breaking new ground in space as chaperone to Dennis Tito, astronaut Yuri Baturin heads earthbound to promote transparency and integrity in Russia
Issued by Transparency International Secretariat
"I love space," announced Dennis Tito, the first tourist in space, as he entered the International Space Station on Monday 30 April, but one of the astronauts who took him there, Yuri Baturin, has more than space travel on his mind - at least when he is earthbound. Baturin is the Chairman of Center Transparency International-Russia, the national chapter of the world's leading non-governmental organisation against corruption.
The look of glee on Dennis Tito's face as he entered the International Space Station testifies to the skill of the two astronauts who took him up into space. But while Tito, a former NASA engineer, is travelling as a paid guest, Baturin is a trained astronaut. Yuri Baturin, lawyer and mathematician, political scientist, journalist, writer and Alpinist, became a professional astronaut in 1998 after serving as National Defence Council Secretary of the Russian Federation and adviser to President Boris Yeltsin from 1993 to 1998. While space travel may now become an interesting hobby for some, Baturin combines an unusual and dangerous profession with the no less unusual and challenging mission as Chairman of Transparency International in post-communist Russia. (Russia was perceived as the 82nd most corrupt of 90 countries surveyed in the TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2000.)
Elena Panfilova, Director of Center Transparency International-Russia, wished both astronauts and Dennis Tito "a rewarding stay in outer space and a safe return journey". She said that on his return, "Yuri Baturin will not only be equipped with the invaluable insight of an expert in space tourism, but will also face an immense challenge: keeping corruption at bay back on earth. We, in TI-Russia, and everybody who works with us, cannot wait to have him back. We desperately need him down here with all his personal integrity, commitment and skills to continue our almost 'impossible' mission of promoting transparency, accountability and integrity in Russia. We wish Yuri and his companions a successful and safe trip."
Transparency International has national chapters in 83 countries. The Center for Anti-Corruption Research and Initiative Transparency International-Russia, the Russian chapter of Transparency International, has worked to promote the National Anti-Corruption Coalition, the Russian National Anti-Corruption Guidelines, the Programme on Drugs Trafficking and Corruption, and the "PR of Integrity" Programme. In October 2000, Center TI-Russia launched the project " Municipal Transparency: Empowering Municipal Authorities and Civil Society in the Fight Against Corruption" in several regions of the Russian Federation. In November 2000, Center TI-Russia initiated preparations for the conference "Anti-Corruption Strategies for Transition Economies: Common Problems, Common Solutions", which will bring together a wide range of anti-corruption civil society representatives from CIS in order to discuss corruption in the region and a toolkit of best anti-corruption practices. Center TI-Russia is also working together with the Open Society Institute in Russia to develop a national anti-corruption internet-resource and web-site http://www.transparency.org.ru and computer database on good community governance, an information service for local NGOs, authorities and businesses.
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