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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev’s Corruption Drive Nets Small Fish

A yearlong campaign against corruption has allowed law enforcement officials to tally up thousands of cases, but major successes have been elusive.

President Dmitry Medvedev submitted a package of anti-corruption laws to the State Duma in October 2008.

In the first half of 2009, the Prosecutor General’s Office uncovered more than 11,000 violations of the law on state service, including on income declarations, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said at a meeting Wednesday. Authorities at all levels of government are committing violations, with officials owning large stakes in companies and holding positions in commercial structures.

This year, 532 government officials have been convicted on corruption-related charges, as have 764 law enforcement officials. Some 6,000 cases are under investigation, he said.

Among those snared were some high-ranking individuals: the acting deputy prime minister of Karelia, the chairman of the Stavropol legislative assembly, and deputy governors in the Kurgan, Oryol and Volgograd regions, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev said at the meeting.  

A federal deputy minister was illegally running a business as the sole founder of a limited liability company, Chaika said, although he closed shop after prosecutors got involved.

Duma Deputy Alexander Khinshtein and one other lawmaker identified the federal government’s violator as Oleg Savelyev, the deputy economic development minister overseeing the special economic zones. The Economic Development Ministry declined comment.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, declined to comment on complaints about specific officials, saying only that the fight against corruption was important.

A criminal investigator in the Interior Ministry’s central office said high-ranking officials have been detained with increasing frequency for violations of the law on state service but for the most part the violations had been minor.

The figures from the Prosecutor General’s Office and Interior Ministry really are insignificant violations of the law on state service, agreed Mikhail Grishankov, a United Russia deputy in the State Duma and deputy head of the Security Committee.

Viktor Ilyukhin, a Communist who serves as deputy head of the Duma’s Constitution and State Affairs Committee, said midlevel officials were responsible for the increases, which allowed the state to meet its national target for catching bribe takers. Even the deputy minister mentioned by Chaika kept his post, he said.

Gennady Gudkov, a Just Russia deputy who also sits on the Security Committee, said the changes were only noticeable at the regional level, with the discovery of corrupt mayors, deputy governors, regional officials and local lawmakers.

On the federal level, however, there’s a caste of officials who are untouchable and the corrupt among them will remain untouched, Gudkov said.

Grishankov agreed, saying that unfortunately a lot of evidence would not be investigated or uncovered for political reasons.