Disillusion is a virtue

-- 12 January 2009 --
PHOTO: Natalia D. - Fotolia.com.

Inna Ermoshkina, a notary assistant from Moscow, took part in the competition to become a notary public eighteen times and lost. Now she appeals against the results of the competitions in court and keeps winning.

Among those who parted with the notary's license because of Ermoshkina are the wife of the Prosecutor-General, the son of the head of the Moscow Department of Internal Affairs and the daughters of the Head of the Moscow Legislative Assembly and the President of the Moscow Notary Chamber. In April 2008 criminal proceedings against Ermoshkina were opened and she spent two months in prison.

A helping hand came from the lawmakers.

On January 10, 2009 an addition to the anti-corruption legislation consisting of three federal laws was enacted. Earlier Russia ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption of 31 October 2003 which became the law in Russia on May 9, 2006 and the Strasbourg Criminal Law Convention on Corruption of January 27, 1999, enforced in Russia on the 1st of February 2007.

New anti-corruption laws give a wide definition of corruption which includes active and passive bribery and trading in influence both in public and private sectors.

Its shallow nature is its main virtue

Article 575 of the Civil Code has been amended and now, according to the Civil Code, any gift to a public official of the value of more than 3,000 roubles (~90 US dollars) is illegal and void (before this law came into force a gift over 500 Russian roubles (~15 US dollars) was illegal). These provisions are quite strange as under separate laws public officials are not allowed to take any gifts regardless of their value (i.e. Federal Law N79-FZ of 27.07.2004). Gifts made at formal events, however, have finally been legalised and now are perfectly acceptable but are considered the state or municipal property.

The anti-corruption package has widened the definition of commercial bribery in the Criminal Code to include non-commercial organisations in the scope of the law and has slightly raised the penalty for the infringement.

A new administrative offence has been introduced, adding article 19.28 'Unlawful Compensation on the Name of a Legal Person' into the Administrative Code. This article prohibits active bribery, or offering a bribe, both in private and public sectors. The penalty is a fine of up to three times of the inducement, but no less than 1 mln roubles (~USD30,000), and, of course, seizure of the payoff.

With regard to the regulation of state and municipal services the law introduces new discloser provisions. State and municipal servants must now inform their employers of their income and property and the property and income of their spouses and underage children. Public officials are obliged to report any attempt to induce them to commit an act of corruption. For the first time the law has defined the conflict of interest in connection to public officials. Finally, the new law has extended the anti-corruption legislation to the military.

'Corruption,' said Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, 'is not a disease that can be cured by pills', and clearly this package is by no means the cure. It is a tiny step forward, almost not a step at all, but, paradoxically, its shallow nature is its main virtue. It keeps people disillusioned.





Another sarcastic deal by the Government: "You wanted songs - we have them available..." Pity for the girl - she most likely did not plan things in a Joanna d'Arc way. Thanks for staying neutral.