HSE University Anti-Corruption Portal
GRECO Publishes Compliance Report on Russia

GRECO has published its Fourth Round Compliance Report on the Russian Federation (in English), focused on corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament, judges and prosecutors.

Each GRECO evaluation round consists of two stages: at the first stage GRECO experts scrutinise anti-corruption infrastructure of a country in a certain area in accordance with the respective evaluation round and draw up a report containing recommendations on how to eliminate identified flaws; the second stage involves monitoring of the implementation of the recommendations put forward at the previous stage.

Russia passed through the first stage of the fourth evaluation round in 2017. The recommendations of GRECO experts were included in the respective Evaluation Report (in English).

In December 2019, at the second stage of the fourth evaluation round, the Compliance Report on the Russian Federation was prepared and subsequently published on 18 August 2020.

Corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament

The Report concludes that Russia has implemented only two out of eight recommendations regarding corruption prevention in respect of members of parliament:

  • Draw up practical guidance on the requirement for MPs to report gifts, received from third parties,
  • Ensure that sanctions can be imposed on MPs on grounds of integrity breaches related to declarations of revenues, interests, property and liabilities (hereinafter, “declarations of revenues”).

Most recommendations in this section of the Report are partly implemented:

  • Enhance the transparency of the legislative process (i) by introducing an obligation to hold public consultations; (ii) by ensuring that media have access to the parliamentary process: GRECO experts find that item (i) of the recommendation is not fully implemented, because public consultations on bills do not appear to be the general rule in spite of the fact that there is a number of legal acts providing for the possibility to hold them. As for item (ii) of the recommendation, GRECO considers that its requirements are met;
  • Adopt a code of ethics for MPs: GRECO takes into consideration the adoption of the codes of ethics of the State Duma (in Russian) and of the Federation Council (in Russian). However, it highlights that not all significant integrity matters are included in these codes. For instance, contacts with third parties (lobbyists and other individuals) and post-mandate restrictions are not tackled;
  • Publish MPs’ declarations without omitting information (such as sources of revenues) other than prejudicial to their privacy: GRECO considers that the presidential decree regarding the disclosure of sources of income by officials appears to be going in the right direction, although it points out that the draft decree obliges MPs to specify only certain sources of revenue, leaving them with the option of declaring other sources of income;
  • Strengthen the system of declaration of revenues with an effective control mechanism: GRECO commends the draft amendments to the legislation aimed at strengthening the control undertaken by the Commissions on Revenues, Property and Liabilities of MPs, set up in the State Duma and the Federation Council (hereinafter, the “commissions”). However, it stresses that it is the ability of the commissions to use their powers in practice that will prove the effectiveness of these amendments;
  • Provide MPs with training on ethical questions and conflict of interest: GRECO considers the training conducted for MPs as a positive development. At the same time, GRECO experts underline that only half of deputies have been trained since 2018, and the information on future activities has not been provided.

One recommendation has not been implemented:

  • Reserve exclusively for the competent parliamentary commissions the possibility of initiating investigations into MPs’ declarations in order to preserve the independence of the legislative power: GRECO believes that this recommendation cannot be considered to be implemented, because external bodies, for instance the President of the Russian Federation, still have the possibility of initiating investigations independently of a decision of the commission, despite the ongoing discussions about modifying the law in order to enable the commissions to initiate investigations into MPs’ declarations.

Corruption prevention in respect of judges

The Russian Federation has implemented satisfactorily four out of nine recommendations on corruption prevention in respect of judges:

  • Ensure that integrity requirement for selecting, appointing and promoting judges is guided by objective criteria available to the public,
  • Seek ways to strengthen the security of tenure of justices of the peace, including their appointment for an unlimited term of office,
  • Draw up practical guidance on the requirement for judges to report all forms of gifts received from third parties,
  • Reinforce anti-corruption training for judges and make available a system for training and counseling to justices of the peace on relevant matters.

Two recommendations have been partly implemented:

  • Give parties to proceedings whose motion for the recusal of the judge deciding on their case has been rejected the possibility of immediately appealing against such refusals without prejudice to the conduct of proceedings within reasonable time: experts state that the recommendation can be considered as partly implemented, pending the adoption of the bill providing for the respective possibility;
  • Increase transparency in respect of declarations on revenues by judges regarding all sources of revenues: the Russian authorities, as with the deputies, refer to the draft presidential decree that provides for the disclosure of the sources of revenues by “officials”, which also include judges. GRECO, however, stresses that the bill does not oblige to disclose all sources of revenues, which means that the recommendation is not fully implemented.

GRECO concludes that three out of nine recommendations in this section have not been implemented:

  • Review the process of recruiting judges so as to preserve the independence of the judiciary power vis-à-vis the executive one by strengthening significantly the role of the judiciary in the selection process of candidate judges: GRECO experts state that the Russian authorities have not provided any new information on the measures adopted in this area, referring to the fact that the President’s role in appointing judges remains decisive;
  • Reintegrate the provisions connected with judges’ impartiality and integrity (close relatives interested in the proceedings; action that could lead to conflict of interest; personal relationship with parties to the proceedings) which were removed from the Code of Judicial Ethics: GRECO disagrees with the Judicial Council that has decided not to reintegrate in the Code of Judicial Ethics (in Russian) the relevant clauses on the ground that they duplicated norms of procedural law. Experts do not see any contradiction in having these principles laid down in both the law and the Code, and stress that the aim of the latter is to illustrate the principles to be followed by judges in exercising their duties;
  • Limit the immunity of judges to activities related to their participation in the administration of justice: also in this case GRECO disagrees with the conclusion reached by the Judicial Council that the current system of immunity of judges is satisfactory. According to GRECO, the form of immunity regarding the procedure for the initiation of criminal prosecution of judges goes beyond a strict functional immunity and is redundant.

Corruption prevention in respect of prosecutors

Three out of five recommendations aimed at countering corruption in respect of prosecutors have been fully implemented:

  • Make more transparent the procedure of appointment to higher posts of prosecutors vis-à-vis external candidates with relevant professional experience,
  • Draw up practical guidance on the requirement for prosecutors to report gifts received from third parties,
  • Provide prosecutors with regular anti-corruption training.

The remaining two recommendations are considered to be partly fulfilled:

  • Introduce clear and objective criteria for the assignment of cases to prosecutors, with due regard to a fair and equitable workload between them, and protect the case assignment from undue influence: GRECO takes note of the instruction on general criteria for allocating cases adopted by the Board of the Prosecutor General’s Office, although it stresses that these principles are rather generic, leaving room for subjectivity in practice, and therefore need to be improved;
  • Handle disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors with a sufficient degree of autonomy and transparency: experts note the efforts to increase transparency around disciplinary proceedings and in particular the open data register where information on disciplinary proceedings can be found. However, the Report highlights that for the recommendation to be fully implemented it is necessary to take steps to handle disciplinary proceedings with more autonomy from the direct hierarchy: at present, the decision rests with the prosecutor having appointed the prosecutor against whom disciplinary proceedings have been instituted, therefore the former may be interested in a certain outcome of the respective proceedings.

Thus, the Russian Federation has fully implemented nine out of twenty-two recommendations. Nine recommendations have been partly fulfilled and four recommendations have not been implemented. The Russian delegation is to submit additional information regarding the implementation of the remaining recommendations by 30 June 2021.

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