Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia Moves to Decriminalize ‘Unavoidable’ Bribes, Following Putin’s Proposal

Ex-Kirov Region governor Nikita Belykh in 2016, arrested on bribery charges in 2018 (Investigations Committee Press Office / TASS)

Corruption comes in many forms, but legalizing bribery is just plain wrong. Bribery is, perhaps, the most basic component of corruption.

But that is what Russia is proposing. The decriminalization of bribery. 

The “exceptional circumstance” in which they intend to grant this right is most likely tied to the politics of the briber and/or the person being bribed. 

Russia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.  Now it is officially embracing its Kleptocratic ways. 

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Jan. 29 2019 – 11:01

Russia’s Justice Ministry has proposed to stop punishing officials implicated in bribery or other acts of corruption under “exceptional circumstances” in new draft legislation, following a plan set by Russian President Vladimir Putin last year.

Putin proposed the measure in an anti-corruption plan signed in June 2018 that called for legislation that would allow officials to escape prosecution for corruption under “exceptional circumstances.” Russia ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries, with Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index ranking it in 138th place this year out of 180 countries.

The amendments drafted by the Justice Ministry seek to exempt officials from legal accountability when corruption is unavoidable.

“In certain circumstances, complying with restrictions and bans… to prevent or settle conflicts of interests … is impossible for objective reasons,” the draft bill on the government’s legal portal says.

The Justice Ministry does not provide examples of the “exceptional circumstances” that would allow officials to escape punishment. Russia’s Vedomosti business daily reported Monday that the ministry will provide specific examples of exemptions to anti-corruption laws after public discussions of the proposal wrap up on Feb. 8.

Ilya Shumanov, the deputy head of Transparency International Russia, told the publication that the amendments provide loopholes for officials to avoid responsibility.

“There’s not a single rational explanation for the use of exceptional circumstances when an official couldn’t declare a conflict of interest,” Vedomosti quoted Shumanov as saying.

Update: The Justice Ministry’s press service explained later on Tuesday that complying with anti-corruption regulations could be “impossible due to objective reasons” in single-industry or closed cities, the Far North and other “remote and sparsely populated places,” the state-run TASS news agency reported.

The ministry’s press service also mentioned exceptional circumstances including “long-term serious illness” and cases in which an official’s former family members choose to withhold their children’s income.

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