Grigory Pasko: Medvedev and Corruption


Today our President Dmitry Medvedev once again spoke out against the scourge of corruption and the lack of rule of law in the Russian Federation.  It was typical kind of speech we come to expect from him:  forthright, unobjectionable, but insincere only from the perspective that other elements of the system around him continue to refuse reform in favor of preserving self-interest.

But Medvedev has a special, if not complicated, relationship with the corruption problem.  For example, a few months ago he met with chief of the control administration of his administration Konstantin Chuychenko, who reported that about $860 million had been lost to corruption on housing and utilities in the Central Federal District in the past two years alone. 

If we do some math, taking into account all eight federal districts, then we get closer to understanding the sheer immensity of corruption under the Putin-Medvedev governance model.  And as such, we might understand the value of Medvedev’s words about the necessity to fight back.

Corruption in the sphere of the housing and utilities sector has always existed, but never in history has it reached such a large scope. This past January the procuracy-general reported that numerous municipalities were unilaterally and unlawfully exaggerating service tariffs of the housing and utilities sector. And what changed?Nothing!

The fact is that every year from the first of January inRussia traditionally the rates for services in the sphere of the housingand utilities sector are raised. And nobody has ever explained topeople why this takes place.

In November of the year 2010, conducting a session of the presidium ofthe State Council in Syktyvkar, Medvedev pronounced that the housing andutilities sector needs to be reformed with intelligence.  He warned that otherwise acatastrophe will befall the country as a result of the disorder and corruption of this sector.

I’m afraid that Mr. Chuychenko could have reported to the president withthe same kind of success about how in all the spheres in the country -there is laxity and disorder. While we’re on the subject, Chuychenkodid tell Medvedev about how, bureaucrats, apparently, are cashing in onkickbacks for certain kinds of construction materials, acquired for the construction projects for the Winter Olympic games,slated for the year 2014 in Sochi.

We identified unpleasant facts, connected with price-formation forgranular materials – sand-and-gravel mix, crushed stone“, – saidChuychenko. As a check showed, the price for these materials grew from360 to 800 rubles per ton, at the same time as on average throughout thecountry it comprises 250-400 rubles. “This doesn’t squeeze through anygates“, he said.

On account of the gates he overstated a bit: it squeezes through, ohhow it squeezes through. Because the head corruptioneers sit not in thesystem of the housing and utilities sector, and not in the constructioncompanies. You need to start from the very top: take a look at howand why the friends and acquaintances of Vladimir Putin suddenly becamemulti-millionaires out of the blue; what monopolists, ones like Gazprom,Russian Railroads, represent of themselves…

Last year representatives of the “Solidarity” opposition movement BorisNemtsov and Vladimir Milov published the report “Putin. Results. 10years“, dedicated to the results of the activity of Vladimir Putinduring the time of his sojourn in power in the capacity of president,and subsequently prime-minister of Russia.

In this report they write: «One of the black results of the rule ofVladimir Putin became the plunging of Russia into a hopelessly lightlessabyss of corruption. Worst of all is that in Russia corruption hasbecome factually legalized in the upper echelons of power. Old friendsof Putin’s, who before his come to power were nobodies, — GennadyTimchenko, Yuri Kovalchuk, the brothers Rotenberg — have beentransformed into dollar billionaires. It is unsurprising that thecountry is beginning to copy the model of behavior of its leader.Already in the year 2000 we were found in 82nd place in the TransparencyInternational (a non-governmental international organization for thestruggle with corruption and researching the level of corruption in thewhole world) global rating of the level of corruption. The country wasstrongly corrupted.

In the year 2009 Russia rolled down substantially lower — to 146thplace. Our neighbours in the rating — Cameroon, Ecuador, Kenya,Sierra-Leone, East Timor, Zimbabwe. Even Georgia outstrips us a lot inthe rating — she is in 61st place. Over the years of Putin’s rule thesocial stratification in the country has grown by 15%. In the crisisyear of 2009 the number of dollar billionaires doubles, in so doing 18.5mln people are living below the poverty line, unemployment reached alevel of 9% while the wages and salaries of budgeteers [civil serviceemployees–Trans.] are frozen.

Against the background of a deficit budget and screaming povertymulti-billion frauds are being implemented: a winter Olympiad in thesubtropics in Sochi; the gas pipelines «Nord stream» and «South stream»,as well as «Altai»; the conducting of an APEC summit on the island of Russky…»

As we can see, Chuychenko merely confirmed to Medvedev something that islong known to all. And what about Medvedev? Why, nothing! It lookslike he’s in condition only to occasionally pronounce words along thelines of “laxity” and “disorder”. There is no need to await more fromhim.

On the photo: Medvedev and Moscow mayor Luzhkov, removed by him «fordistrust». The removal from post of Luzhkov was perhaps Medvedev’ssole weighty contribution to the struggle with corruption in thecountry.