President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Alexander Vladimirovich, various departments of the Ministry of Justice have been involved in a large undertaking, the preparation of an anti-corruption regulatory framework and the actual steps that need to be taken to fight corruption..
I know that you have some new proposals which you have prepared and I'd be grateful if you could tell us about them.
Minister of Justice Alexander Konovalov: Yes, as part of its mandate the Ministry of Justice has been involved in the preparation of a regulatory framework under the auspices of the National Anti-Corruption Plan that you initiated. The first package of draft bills introduced to the State Duma has already passed the Ministry's examination.
According to the National Plan, the Ministry of Justice must ensure that by next year every draft law at the federal level that comes to the Russian parliament is subjected to an anti-corruption examination.
In the future the challenge will doubtless be to extend this practice to regional and municipal legislation, although that would be a huge undertaking.
Dmitry Medvedev: What do you think you'll be on the lookout for in preparing this regulatory framework? Because as lawyers we both know that this is a very subjective exercise, determining which rules will constitute high calibre ammunition and which ones will be non-starters or duds.
Alexander Konovalov: I think that the current trend in management is to minimise the so-called human factor, when this or that law or administrative practice gives too much freedom to the personal subjective judgment of a given official. Consequently, with the development of management technologies this freedom should gradually diminish, so the challenge for those doing the examining will be to identify an unreasonable amount of personal discretion belonging to a given official.
Dmitry Medvedev: You're referring to administrative law.
Alexander Konovalov: Certainly, in administrative law and in general management, where an administrative decision could be linked to an important issue that had been previously foreseen by the rules concerning corruption.
Dmitry Medvedev: What more can be done in this sense?
Alexander Konovalov: We can also talk about how to minimise risks associated with so-called conflict of interest, in order to optimise the delivery of public services and, for the consumer's sake, make them as transparent, understandable, and under the control of civil society as possible..
Incidentally, in the process of Russia's preparations for the report of the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), which will be out in December this year, it is a very topical issue, namely the involvement of civil society in combating corruption. I think that this is now one of the necessary conditions for the success of this process.
Dmitry Medvedev: What are the indicators being used to evaluate the participation of civil society? Do we have reliable indicators?
Alexander Konovalov: Again, the participation of civil society in the assessment of draft bills, management, transparency and accessibility of management processes to public scrutiny – this is effectively what we are looking for.
And one of the challenges faced by contemporary Russian society and contemporary Russian law enforcement is encouraging to the greatest extent possible law-abiding, transparent and right-minded conduct on both sides. Because, as has been repeatedly said in different forums, including your speeches, there is no such thing as a one-sided fight against corruption. Only by destroying the economic incentives for corruption and making ordinary people refuse to countenance it can we create the conditions which will enable us to smash corruption.