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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Boldyrev Calls Audit Chamber Putin's Tool

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Yury Boldyrev has decided not to seek reappointment to his post as deputy head of the Audit Chamber, saying parliament's budgetary watchdog has lost its teeth as a corruption fighter and has become an instrument of the presidential administration.

Boldyrev complained that President Vladimir Putin's changes to the structure of the Federation Council and the rise of the pro-Putin Unity party in the State Duma have given the president a docile parliament, which will not support independent investigations if they are unwanted by the Kremlin.

"The State Duma that backed the Audit Chamber in the past as a controlling body independent of the executive powers, of the president, does not exist any more," Boldyrev said in a telephone interview Thursday.

"Before, we were working in some opposition to the executive power. But it looks like that time is over."

Boldyrev handed in his resignation on Jan. 17 after the expiration of his six-year term, saying there was no point continuing to work with the chamber after the parliament had become "tame."

He had had the option of applying for reappointment, subject to confirmation by the Federation Council.

The Audit Chamber was created in 1994 by the parliament to make sure budget funding was spent properly by state-controlled organizations.

Last year it was taken over by former Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, who promised to crack down on corruption.

Boldyrev has long complained that the Audit Chamber's reports have been routinely disregarded. The chamber can turn its findings over to prosecutors but is powerless to mete out punishment itself.

Stepashin himself has also called for an expansion of the chamber's powers.

Boldyrev called the appointment of his successor, Alexander Semikolennykh — the former deputy head of the presidential administration's audit department — a sign that the chamber has effectively become a branch of executive power.

Meanwhile, in an effort to open up to the public, the Audit Chamber launched its web site Thursday.

The Russian-language site (www.ach.gov.ru) is still a work in progress. It posts photos of Stepashin and staff auditors, titles of recent reports, agreements between the chamber and other law enforcement bodies and a media digest. But it gives neither the text of the chamber's reports nor information on the number of court cases opened as a result of the chamber's investigations.

In an Internet conference about the launch, Stepashin said the chamber's monthly reports will be available as of Monday.

Stepashin said 40 reports about the chamber's investigations were submitted to the Prosecutor General's Office last year and more than 200 officials were reprimanded as a result.

But, he said, "more important" than "putting [an official] in jail" is to "give a judicial assessment of serious violations, especially concerning issues of privatization and inefficiency in spending budget funds."

He conceded that in the past the chamber's "materials have not been used effectively."