Anti-Corruption Bill Clears Key 2nd Reading in Duma

The State Duma on Wednesday passed in a crucial second reading the anti-corruption bill that President Dmitry Medvedev has made the centerpiece of his campaign to tackle rampant graft in the country.

The bill, submitted by Medvedev in October and approved in a first reading last month, will now go through one more Duma reading before being sent to the Federation Council for approval. After it is passed there, it will be sent to Medvedev to be signed into law.

The legislation, which includes amendments to 25 current laws, contains an umbrella definition of corruption that includes abuse of office, bribery and commercial bribery, Interfax reported.

The bill would also require state officials and their family members to make public declarations of their assets and income. The Communists have complained, however, about the fact that the requirement extends only to an official's spouse and children. The Communists' proposal to include an official's parents and siblings in the requirement was rejected by the United Russia majority in the Duma.

The original draft of the bill also required officials to report any instances of corruption of which they are aware. That item, however, was removed from the draft passed Wednesday.

n The Federation Council on Wednesday passed a bill that would eliminate jury trials for cases involving terrorism, espionage and attempts to overthrow the government.

The bill, decried by critics as a rollback of democratic norms, was passed by a voted of 147 to 0, Interfax reported.

It will now be sent to Medvedev to be signed into law.