MOSCOW, February 14 (RIA Novosti)
Will Agencies, Companies Use Labor Ministry’s Anti-Corruption Tool?
Government agencies seem capable of producing useful tools for the anti-corruption campaign. The Labor and Social Development Ministry has worked out a methodology for evaluating and preventing corruption risks among civil servants and state company executives. However, the results will greatly depend on who applies it and how it is done.
The president and government had entrusted the Labor Ministry with drafting and enforcing anti-corruption policies, including the verification of data contained in the income and property declarations submitted by state officials, Duma deputies and judges.
The new guidelines, presented on Wednesday to the presidential anti-corruption council by Deputy Labor Minister Tatiana Blinova, list 12 potentially corruption-prone powers that officials at executive bodies, oversight authorities and state companies can be given. The greatest danger, according to the guidelines, is posed by the power to award government supply and service contracts; to distribute government funding; as well as supervision, tax collection and licensing.
To reduce or avoid corruption risks, the ministry proposed re-engineering (redistributing) these powers, introduce regular rotation of officials holding these positions, and regular checkups of how they make decisions.
The methodology will help minimize these officials’ contacts with interested parties and individuals, which are to be replaced, where possible, with online exchanges of documents. Other proposals are to install cameras in premises where they receive visitors and to improve the procedure for selecting officials for inspection commissions and working groups.
Officials serving in corruption-prone positions will have to disclose their incomes, property and expenditures, and those of their families. Officials who violate administrative regulations by giving their bosses expensive presents, recommending their friends and relatives for jobs and requiring people to bring additional documents will be put under tighter scrutiny. Heads of government agencies will be required to consider any media or private reports on misconduct by their subordinates.
Experts assess the new methodology as potentially effective and complying with the OECD anti-corruption recommendations for Central Europe and Eastern Asia. The question is how this methodology will be enforced.
It is going to be implemented by the management of government agencies and state companies, while their HR services will be verifying officials’ income declarations. Transparency and public access to the information will also be regulated by the management.
However, there is a chance that the new tool will improve state administration of government agencies and corporate governance at state companies.
Monthly Drug Testing for Soldiers
The Defense Ministry’s personnel and medical directorates have suggested monthly drug testing for called-up soldiers, Izvestia reports. The two bodies sent a draft order to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The document is classified Top Secret and contains information on the state of discipline in the armed forces, and statistics for violations, including drug-related violations.
Izvestia has learned that drug testing will be performed by army medics in garrison hospitals and medical companies. The suggested start date is this summer.
The proposals are based on US Army experience, a Defense Ministry source told the newspaper. An expert group of instructors and medical specialists travelled to Germany to get first-hand knowledge of the logistics and testing process.
The US Army introduced mandatory drug testing in the early 1980s when drug abuse began threatening combat capability. This new system of testing produced quick results, and in the 1990s the problem was practically taken off the agenda.
Russian experts plan to conduct “quick tests.” Service personnel will simply provide saliva and urine samples. A chemical added to the laboratory vial will instantly alter the color of the liquid if it reacts with a given drug.
The Army doctors say there are several flash tests with proven reliability. To avoid unnecessary tension, tests will be conducted in a centralized process and according to individual schedules. Those who test positive for illegal drug or psychotropic drug use will be sent to a hospital. If the test results are confirmed, a military police investigation will be initiated. Officers and conscripts will be tested during annual health screening.
The draft order suggests that a lack of eligible or willing conscripts is responsible for, among other things, an increase in conscripts with drug habits. Military offices will draft anyone in sight, including drug addicts.
“We are not disclosing drug use or other related violation statistics for the armed forces. But it ought to be said they are causing us to sit up and take notice and to respond,” the Defense Ministry source told Izvestia.
Army doctors, faced with this new duty, basically support the measure, but fear it will be an overwhelming job.
Vladimir Komoyedov, head of the State Duma’s Defense Committee, has described the proposal “as somewhat shocking” because it points to the scale of the problem.
“I cannot say the measure is senseless. On the other hand, it is a waste of time and another instance of mistrust in the uniformed man. This is not about improving combat preparedness, but other issues. For military personnel to not abuse drugs, they need to be engaged in service and studying. I have been to units where the men just sit around doing nothing,” the admiral told Izvestia.
Komoyedov believes military medicine needs to be strengthened and laboratories provided for remote units and on ships before testing is introduced.
Former Ingush Deputy Minister Killed as Terrorist Suspect
On February 13, Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives killed former Deputy Minister of Construction and Finance of Ingushetia Sultan-Girei Khashagulgov, who was Co-Chairman of the Council of Elders opposition organization. There were plans to apprehend him after the arrest of his brother Yakub Khashagulgov. Investigative Committee officials believe that both men may have financed an illegal paramilitary unit commanded by their younger brother Issa Khashagulgov. Issa is to stand trial for masterminding a terrorist attack at the central Vladikavkaz marketplace in North Ossetia on September 9, 2010, when 19 people were killed and 200 more injured.
Sultan-Girei Khashagulgov was killed by FSB operatives at his home in Nazran after he opened fire and wounded one of the officers.
FSB operatives and Investigative Committee investigators drove up to Khashagulgov’s home at 7.00 a.m. but did not enter the premises immediately. They asked his wife and child to stay at a safe location during the search that was about to take place. Then they gave Khashagulgov a video camera, which showed all rooms inside the building. The officers entered the building after making sure that there were no surprises inside. One operative said they were confident that everything would proceed smoothly. But Khashagulgov suddenly grabbed a handgun, which was taped under a desk, and shot one officer in the stomach. He subsequently tried to escape but was killed by special forces officers.
Khashagulgov opened fire after an investigator told him that he would be arrested. Investigative Committee sources confirmed that Khashagulgov was to have been questioned in Vladikavkaz about the above-mentioned marketplace attack. On February 9, Yakub Khashagulgov, another suspect in the case, was arrested in the village of Yandare. Operatives found a diagram showing prisons and detention centers in Vladikavkaz and about two million rubles ($66,600) at his home.
Investigative Committee officials suspect that Issa Khashagulgov heads a structural division of the Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz) terrorist organization. Militants commanded by Khashagulgov Jr. tried to kill police officers and military personnel. They also blew up alcohol stores and committed other crimes. Issa Khashagulgov and four of his accomplices are to stand trial at the Supreme Court of North Ossetia.
Several previously sentenced members of Khashagulgov’s unit who had entered into a plea bargain with prosecutors told investigators that the two other Khashagulgov brothers had links to undercover militant groups.
Ingush opposition leader Magomed Khazbiyev believes that law enforcement officers had no reason to suspect Sultan-Girei Khashagulgov of ties with militants. He said the authorities disliked Khashagulgov because he was a human rights activist.
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