14 March 2013

Last year, Russia held the chair of APEC.  That also gave it leadership of the Anti Corruption and Transparency Working Group which 10 months ago confirmed the Russian drafted Vladivostok Declaration on Fighting Corruption and a role in championing APEC countries’ commitment to the UN Convention Against Corruption and the OECD Anti Bribery Convention.  In the years leading up to taking the chair there was cynicism about the extent to which Russian officials would be able to contribute to the promotion of anti corruption measures. Organs of the Russian government are seen as self-serving.  Russia scored poorly on the 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index compared with other European states – ranking 133rd out of 176 states.  On the Bribe Payers Index Russia as 28th of 28, is bottom.  Although  the former President made public commitments to eradicating corruption, there has been no discernible improvement.

Media allegations this week of corruption by the head of the Duma’s Anti Corruption and Security Committee may lend weight to the belief many officials lack any commitment to ethical government – and that corruption is not just a male propensity. Irina Yarovaya has tried to conceal ownership of a Moscow apartment  worth about $NZ 4 million. Her salary as a member of the Duma is less than NZ 130,000. Her home is another Moscow property also worth about $4 million for which her daughter, aged 23, is the registered owner.

The chairman of the Duma’s Ethics and Credentials Commission resigned in February when he was identified as secretly owning Florida property worth $NZ 2 .5 million. Five other Duma members have resigned since December.