Opening Address at the Meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council 2008-09-30 18:27:12 The Kremlin, Moscow President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Dear Colleagues! Today is the Council’s first meeting. We will discuss the basic priorities of the National Anti-Corruption Plan. I hope that our discussion will be frank and businesslike. In fact, our Council was created in order to make important strategic decisions in the fight against corruption. And we need to pay attention to documents which have already been prepared. I am once again forced to repeat a simple but no less painful thing: corruption in our country has taken on not only massive dimensions and occurs on a massive scale, it has also become commonplace and routine – something that characterizes the lives of our citizens. And as you know, it is not banal bribes – regardless of their size – that I am referring to, but rather a serious illness which affects our economy and corrupts all of society. In this regard fundamentally lowering the level of corruption is, of course, a strategic challenge facing our country. The achievement of this goal is directly connected with the protection of property rights in Russia, strengthening the legal and judicial systems, and the expansion of free enterprise. In fact, it is connected with most of the tasks we have set for ourselves. I would also note that this is not a short-term opportunistic endeavour. There were rumours that after certain events, such as the August conflict in the Caucasus, Russia would reduce its work in this direction and not conduct any activities in this respect. On the contrary, we will engage in our work with the same vigour as before. The main framework for our work is the National Anti-Corruption Plan which I approved some time ago. A week ago there was a meeting of the Presidium of the [Anti-Corruption] Council which elaborated a programme for the implementation of the plan. By the way, the plan is posted on the President’s website in both Russian and English and is therefore open to discussion and analysis. What are our most pressing tasks? They are several. First, we need to establish a solid system and a clear legal and regulatory framework. This is the first and most important thing. So today we will place special emphasis on examining the package of relevant draft bills. Indeed, the package which we have elaborated over the past four months. Secondly, we will discuss some of the practical steps we must take when carrying out the national plan. I would like to draw the attention of Council members to the fact that Article 7 of the draft federal law ”On Anti-Corruption Measures” identifies the spheres of competences for state bodies in this field. In particular, this applies to ensuring transparency, competition, and fairness in competitions when concluding public or municipal contracts. This also includes the removal of unjustified prohibitions and restrictions, particularly those that relate to economic activity. It is obvious that the implementation of all these key tasks must be supported by a legal framework. Therefore we have serious legislative work ahead of us. And its rigorous enforcement is as important as the adoption of the appropriate regulatory framework. As you know, problems in this respect are no smaller and perhaps even greater. In order for the law to do its work we must do more than simply adopt it, publicize it and explain it; we must also create the conditions for its implementation. And then later on we must make sure that the law is written correctly, that it adequately regulates the social relations it is designed for, and not just made up or determined by the fancy of a given official. For this reason we need to develop and adopt a certain amount of secondary legislation and carry out a number of organisational measures. I also believe that we should quickly include the results of new legal developments in anti-corruption laws in training programmes, as well as in professional programmes for the retraining of the personnel of law enforcement agencies and other organisations. Another circumstance that we must keep in mind is that it is possible to duplicate legislation. We quite often have cases when instead of effectively enforcing existing legal norms and administrative decisions we adopt new rules, perhaps ones that have been written more boldly or simply seem more adequate for today’s world, but in actual fact nothing changes. We certainly do not want such documents. Without any exaggeration, the bills that have been presented to you affect every citizen and society as a whole, although some of them refer to corporate regulations. Therefore we must approach their consideration by the State Duma carefully, provide for the opportunity to discuss them at a meeting of the State Duma and within the Federation Council, as well as first with the regions, and with the institutions of civil society. In this regard it seems perfectly reasonable to establish a working group to consolidate the comments that the bills generate. The working group should also coordinate the general legislative work in the area of combating corruption. Once again I would like to emphasise that the purpose of today's meeting is the final approval, if we so agree, on a package of anti-corruption measures. And following our meeting I will present the package to the State Duma.