Medvedev’s Anti-Corruption Measures – Whitewash or Real Deal?

Many of you likely noticed this week that Pres. Medvedev and PM Putin disclosed their income, ownership interests, and financial obligations pursuant to the new law, ‘On Anti-Corruption Measures‘ (на Русском), which was passed in December of last year and came into force on January 10, 2009. The main anti-corruption legislation was accompanied by two other statutes that amended existing laws for conformity. As some colleagues of mine describe here, the legislation stems from Medvedev’s National Plan for Counteracting Corruption and Russia’s international obligations under the UN Convention Against Corruption and the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption. Indeed, just last month, Medvedev signed an order directing the Ministry of Justice to sign the Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, which provides for the implementation of the Convention in national legislation and monitoring of compliance. The only major anti-corruption treaty to which Russia is not a party is the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, though this might change if Russia joins the OECD as planned. Finally, last month Russia published the “Federal Program on the Reform and Development of the Civil Service System of the Russian Federation.” You’ll find a whopping 18 references to corruption in a document assigned with the bland task of:

Establishing а cohesive system of government service in the Russian Federation through the completion of a reform of its condition and the creation of a system of civil service management and formation of high-quality personnel in government service, which will provide effectiveness in government management, and the development of civil society and innovation economy.

Based on these recent events, it is reasonable to conclude that Medvedev understands how crippling the corruption problem is in Russia and is serious about combating it. To be sure, many Russian observers conclude that a genuine anti-corruption program is essential to prevent Russia’s collapse. Still, Russia has a history of new leaders arriving on a mission to eradicate corruption, only abandon the goal once public attention fades.

So, the big question is whether this anti-corruption push is for real, and whether it will last long enough to bring about the fundamental changes in Russian politics, business, society, and culture that must take place. In the next few posts, I will examine Russia’s new anti-corruption legislation and its place within the National Anti-Corruption Plan. I will also try to provide a case study of corruption in Russia, in the context of a particular industry.

Update: Today Vedomosti has some reporting on the income/wealth reports of other members of the administration and government. And here is an article from the other day. Below is Vedomosti’s infographic showing the earnings of government members:

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