Anchor of Vesti V Subbotu [News On Saturday] Current Affairs Programme Sergei Brilev: Mr Naryshkin, the process of submission of income declarations by members of the Council of Federation, State Duma and governors was completed a few days ago and there are some peculiarities about it. For example, there are senators formally earning very low salaries who nevertheless own a Maserati and a Rolls-Royce. Generally speaking, what initial conclusions can you draw after reviewing these declarations?
Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive office Sergei Naryshkin: I may mention some figures. In 2010, such declarations were submitted by 157,000 civil servants, and in 2011 by over 260,000.
What conclusions can be drawn? Indeed, some civil servants holding senior posts have high incomes, but there may be explanations for that, as some of them used to be engaged in lawful businesses…
Sergei Brilev: … and still hold securities and stocks.
Sergei Naryshkin: The review of the declarations revealed various contradictions and, for example, a Defence Ministry officer was subsequently fired from a post of a general. Now, investigation is underway into the incomes of three more high-ranking public servants.
Sergey Brilev: You mentioned the Defence Ministry, and in general it so happened that over the last two weeks the news brought to light multiple conflicts and scandals in the Armed Forces. Does that surprise you? Has the Presidential Executive Office instructed the relevant agencies to conduct investigations and audits?
Sergei Naryshkin: These news certainly do surprise me. In case an agency in question fails to initiate an inspection following a disclosure of the facts by individuals or media, relevant instructions on launching investigations are given.
Sergey Brilev: Could you share any details of the problem in Lipetsk?
Sergei Naryshkin: The investigation is still underway there hence it is too early to discuss any results thereof, but we will let you know at the end.
Sergey Brilev: Presumably, it was instructed to continue the investigation until it is absolutely completed?
Sergei Naryshkin: Of course.
Sergey Brilev: As far as the Ministry of the Interior is concerned, identifying corrupt officials is among the prime purposes of the special certification [of the law enforcement agencies’ personnel] which is being supervised by the Presidential Executive Office and has now been extended. Again, what are the initial conclusions and first impressions?
Sergei Naryshkin: Certification of the Interior Ministry senior officers is the task of the Commission for Special Certification of the Russian Federation Law Enforcement Agencies’ Personnel Applying for Senior Positions which I head by the instruction of the President, and the process is nearing its end with about 360 candidacies having been reviewed and 309 officers recommended for appointment to various senior positions.
Sergey Brilev: Hence, fifty others were rejected?
Sergei Naryshkin: Eighteen were not recommended for any appointments, and twenty to thirty are still under further review.
Sergey Brilev: What were the grounds for rejections, lack of professionalism or corruption?
Sergei Naryshkin: Both.
Sergey Brilev: That suggests that there should be a somewhat further step and once dubious facts are revealed they may be supplied to the prosecutors for a proper investigation.
Sergei Naryshkin: That is quite possible.
Sergey Brilev: Will that apply to all eighteen of those individuals, or will you be doing more screening first?
Sergei Naryshkin: You have already answered the question when formulating the grounds for rejection as lack of professionalism and corruption. There are instances of both.
Sergey Brilev: So, there will be no peaceful resignations.
Sergei Naryshkin: In some cases certainly not.
I may cite another figure. In the process of reforming the Ministry of the Interior, 112 senior officers in regional departments have been fired, therefore the reforms and personnel renewal are rather energetic.
Sergey Brilev: Were the people fired mainly holding top general positions?
Sergei Naryshkin: Yes.
Sergey Brilev: And were there some other senior officers?
Sergei Naryshkin: There were.
Sergey Brilev: This week, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina signed on behalf of Russia the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery [of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions]. What other new anti-corruption instruments are due to appear soon?
Sergei Naryshkin: Just recently, in May, a law was enacted toughening financial punishment for corruption-related crimes, the so-called multiple fines law, which puts financial sanctions as the main punishment whereas everything else is auxiliary.
A law has been submitted to the State Duma envisaging an obligatory reporting by the banks and registration agencies of information and data on the incomes and properties of civil servants. Currently, banking secrecy is observed, while the new law will permit to surmount it to actively use the banks and registration agencies’ data for verifying the accuracy of income and property declarations by civil servants.
Sergey Brilev: Isn’t there a danger of crossing the red line? Starting with civil servants today, where will we end up tomorrow?
Sergei Naryshkin: A balance must be found.
Another essential and much-discussed point is amending the procedures of tenders by government agencies and organisations. Federal Law No. 94, which has been the subject of massive criticism in recent years, is under major revision.
Sergey Brilev: That means, it was no accident that the President spoke about it at his meeting with scientists?
Sergei Naryshkin: No, it was no accident. The contract-making principle will apply not only to the tenders themselves, as after all that is the core principle of the Federal Law No. 94 already, but also to the pre-tender phase and post-tender monitoring.
Sergey Brilev: Monitoring does not necessarily have to be a post-factum act, since a publication on the government purchases website of an announcement that a head of some municipality is willing to purchase a luxurious Mercedes car is always of immediate public concern.
Sergei Naryshkin: Certainly, and it is good that the public and the media do not let such facts go unnoticed and send a signal to executive authorities who must respond.
Sergey Brilev: So the voice of the public is not wasted?
Sergei Naryshkin: It is not. We read all the news, reports and complaints, and you, media, are doing good job bringing such facts to light.