It is for the first time that the Plan, adopted by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation of 16 August 2021 No. 478, covers such a long period of time: before that the strategic documents of this kind were adopted for a year or two, whereas the previous National Anti-Corruption Plan covered three years, from 2018 to 2020.
The new Plan contains a list of measures for preventing and countering corruption, mitigating and eliminating its consequences, and is divided into 16 areas. Many of its provisions are designed to fill in the existing legal gaps detected in law enforcement over the previous years: some of them regard specific mechanisms, for example, the increase of sources of information and the provision of access to them to enhance the effectiveness of anti-corruption verifications; others concern matters of a more conceptual nature, for instance, the revision of the norms regulating conflict of interest and systematisation of anti-corruption legislation.
At the same time, some issues that require the improvement of the legal framework are not included in the Plan. In particular, the expansion of anti-corruption standards to specific State-owned enterprises has been left unaddressed.
1. Anti-corruption standards
The first area addressed by the Plan provides for the adoption of measures aimed at improving the set of anti-corruption prohibitions, restrictions and obligations.
Some instructions imply the development of proposals on the legal regulation of specific standards such as:
- the restrictions on holding temporarily the post of head of a municipality and, at the same time, a post in a local government body or the post of head of a municipal entity,
- the obligation to submit information on income, expenses, property and property-related obligations (hereinafter, information on income, expenses) for the persons holding public offices,
- the obligation to submit information on income, expenses for the candidates to the position of Ataman of the All-Russian Cossack Society and others.
Other measures provided for by the Plan regard the analysis of the existing legal provisions and law enforcement in broader areas concerning, for instance, the restrictions on receiving gifts, establishment and use of the channels for reporting corruption offences and protection of whistleblowers.
Besides that, this line of action includes the development of guidance on how to respect the prohibitions on undertaking entrepreneurial activities and participating in corporate management, and to develop anti-corruption plans in public entities, as well as a review of law enforcement with respect to the protection of corruption whistleblowers.
2. Conflict of interest
The second area of action provides, in the first place, for a consolidated analysis of the functioning of the “conflict-of-interest institution” with the aim to counter corruption, and of the mechanism for transferring securities to fiduciary management in a conflict-of-interest situation, and the preparation of proposals on how to clarify such related notions as “conflict of interest”, “personal interest”, “close relatives and in-law relatives”, “other close relationships”, expand the list of “associates” and use special forms of fiduciary management*.
The document also provides for:
- the development of proposals on the obligation of the direct superior of an official to take measures for preventing or managing conflicts of interest of the latter,
- the preparation of a report on the outcomes of the verifications concerning the compliance of individuals holding posts in public bodies or local government bodies with the requirements of the conflict-of-interest legislation,
- the development of guidance on how to detect and mitigate corruption risks in the context of the provision of subsidies and other intergovernmental transfers.
3. Anti-corruption verifications
In this area, the Plan provides for the preparation of proposals on how to improve the existing procedure for conducting verifications of the accuracy and completeness of information on income, expenses, compliance with the prohibitions, restrictions and obligations designed to counter corruption and fill in certain legal gaps concerning, in particular:
- the procedure for conducting verifications in the event that the official (employee) changes the body where he/she serves (works),
- the right of the heads of regional anti-corruption bodies, authorised by the heads of Russian regions, and the individuals, authorised by the single executive bodies of State corporations, to make requests in the course of verification procedures,
- the obligation of registry offices, tax authorities, individuals conducting professional activities in the stock market, the Bank of Russia and credit bureaus to provide information in the framework of verifications,
- the possibility for prosecutors to obtain information constituting bank secrecy.
Additionally, it is planned to develop guidance on how to conduct anti-corruption verifications.
4. Disciplinary liability
This section contains the instructions on how to:
- enhance the effectiveness of the institution of dismissal on the grounds of loss of confidence by introducing temporary restrictions on employment in organisations established or controlled by the Russian Federation, a Russian region, a municipality and controlled State corporations,
- explore other (besides the early termination of the term of office) possibilities of holding the persons holding public (municipal) offices liable,
- develop the procedure for holding acting heads of Russian regions liable for falling short of anti-corruption standards,
- analyse the practices of dismissal of heads of municipal entities for falling short of anti-corruption standards,
- update the Review of practices of holding civil (municipal) servants liable for violating anti-corruption standards.
This section also includes the instructions concerning the monitoring of the practice of control over expenses and preparation of guidance on how to conduct such control based on the outcome of the monitoring procedure.
5. Criminal and administrative liability
This line of action includes the analysis of:
- the practice of holding individuals liable for the crimes against the interest of the service in organisations,
- the practice of adopting measures for preventing the commission of crimes by law enforcement officials,
- the practice of reparation of damages caused by corruption crimes,
- the activities of law enforcement bodies in the fight against corruption in general and in the detection, solution and investigation of acts of bribery of foreign officials in particular.
Additionally, it is planned to submit proposals on the measures aimed at ensuring the full actual reparation of damage, establishing the search and seizure of proceeds of crime as a separate procedure, redressing the imbalances in the penalties for mediation in bribery (commercial bribery) and promising (offering) of mediation, and the prevention of misuse of intergovernmental transfers allocated to the anti-pandemic measures, implementation of the national projects, including the detection and suppression of bribery, granting of undue advantage and provision of assistance to affiliated organisations.
6. Protection of restricted information
This line of action includes, in particular, harmonisation of legislation on restricted information and anti-corruption legislation, preparation of proposals on the procedure and storage terms of certificates of income, expenses, and other documents containing personal data and restricted information, provision of copies of certificates on income, expenses as requested in the framework of preliminary inquiries, criminal investigations and in other cases.
7. Revolving door
In this area, it is planned to analyse the practice of introducing restrictions on employment after the termination of service in an organisation with respect to which the individual exercised specific functions of State (municipal) management, prepare proposals on the expansion of the list of individuals subject to these restrictions and the list of organisations where they cannot be employed for a cooling-off period, and define the procedure for verifying if they comply with the restrictions.
8. Anti-corruption action in the private sector entities
To counter corruption in the private sector, the Plan provides for the following measures:
- adopt a set of measures to enhance the effectiveness of interaction between business and the State on anti-corruption matters,
- conduct an annual opinion survey on corruption and country-wide campaigns with the aim to introduce internal control procedures and anti-corruption policy in the business sector;
- prepare a review of best practices with respect to the fight against corruption in organisations.
9. Anti-corruption action in the Russian regions
This area includes:
- the preparation of proposals on how to improve the legal regulation of activities of anti-corruption bodies and anti-corruption commissions in the Russian regions, including the update of relevant model provisions,
- the analysis of the practice and preparation of proposals on how to improve the legal regulation of the participation of civil servants of the Russian regions and municipal servants in corporate management,
- the organisation of annual retreats on acute issues of anti-corruption law enforcement for the representatives of these bodies,
- the conduct of sociological surveys with the aim to assess the level of corruption in the Russian regions.
10. Fight against corruption in procurement
The Plan provides for the following action to counter corruption in public (municipal) procurement:
- oblige the customer to include an anti-corruption clause in the contract, and oblige the heads and servants (employees) of the customer, directly involved in procurement, to annually submit and update information on their “associates”,
- prepare proposals on how to ensure openness and transparency of the procedures (rules) for defining the value of real estate assets in public (municipal) ownership, stocks (shares) of organisations when decisions on how to dispose of such property are taken or the ownership of such property and stocks is acquired,
- prepare a report on the implementation of the measures aimed at preventing and suppressing kickbacks, detection and elimination of acts of corruption in procurement.
11. Corruption proofing of legislation
This line of action implies:
- the obligation of organisations founded by the Russian Federation, a Russian region, a municipality, a State corporation to conduct anti-corruption assessment of the drafts of local acts and train the individuals whose duties include corruption proofing in these organisations,
- the monitoring of activities of public bodies and organisations, prosecutorial bodies in corruption proofing of legal acts and their drafts,
- a regular review of the practice of corruption proofing of legislation.
12. Education and awareness-raising
This area includes a number of instructions concerning the organisation of different didactic and information events on anti-corruption matters, including the All-Russian Anti-Corruption Forum of Financial and Economic Bodies, scientific and practical conference “Fight against Corruption in Educational Institutions and Research Entities”, country-wide workshop for media workers on social anti-corruption advertising, annual retreat on the acute issues of anti-corruption law enforcement for the federal public bodies and regional anti-corruption bodies, international and country-wide anti-corruption events for university students, anti-corruption “train the trainer” courses, awareness-raising and educational events for the Russian persons engaged in foreign economic activities on how to mitigate the risks of foreign anti-corruption law enforcement.
Additionally, all bodies and entities are tasked with organising anti-corruption training of both active servants (employees), in particular, those involved in the anti-corruption activities and in public (municipal) procurement, and newly recruited servants (employees) and with reporting to the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Russian Federation on conducted training activities for the latter to draft a final report.
This area also includes:
- the development and adoption of model programmes of additional professional training in the area of anti-corruption,
- the launch of a Master’s programme in anti-corruption,
- the integration of provisions aimed at fostering non-tolerance of corruption in the federal educational standards,
- the implementation of the programme of public corruption awareness-raising,
- the conduct of research projects on acute anti-corruption matters.
13. Participation of society
This section contains instructions on the analysis of the practice of processing the reports of citizens and organisations regarding acts of corruption, participation of the entities of civil society oversight in anti-corruption activities, provision of assistance to the community-oriented not-for-profit anti-corruption organisations in the Russian regions, and the adoption of measures for strengthening the participation of civil society in the fight against corruption also by engaging volunteer organisations and movements, increasing the membership of representatives of NGOs, whose statutory activities are related to anti-corruption, academia and experts in anti-corruption commissions.
Also, it is planned to take measures for raising awareness of civil society about corruption by organising awareness-raising events to inform citizens about anti-corruption legal provisions and create an atmosphere of non-tolerance of corruption, holding regular public lectures focused on anti-corruption matters in the Russian regions, creating and disseminating the content aimed at promoting anti-corruption standards among the general public on the Internet.
14. International cooperation
This section includes instructions concerning Russia’s participation in different international anti-corruption formats (APEC, G20, BRICS, IACA etc.) and implementation of the obligations assumed by the country in line with international agreements adopted in the framework of the United Nations, the OECD, GRECO, FATF etc.
15. Systematisation of anti-corruption legislation
This line of action includes regular systematisation and update of anti-corruption legislation, elimination of gaps and contradictions, ineffective and outdated norms.
16. Digital financial assets and information technologies
The last section of the Plan provides for:
- the analysis of new forms of corruption related to the use of digital technologies,
- the preparation of proposals on how to detect and suppress the crimes committed with the use of digital financial assets and other digital rights and digital currency,
- the preparation of proposals on how to use information technologies to submit, process, analyse and store information on income, expenses,
- the analysis of the practice of submission of information on the ownership of digital financial assets, verification of such information and exercise of control over the expenditures for the acquisition of digital financial assets,
- the adoption of measures for raising public awareness about the possibilities to participate in civil society oversight with the use of public Internet-resources and the analysis of the possibilities for further development of such resources,
- the analysis of the practice of the use of digital technologies with the aim to provide public (municipal) services, fulfill control and oversight functions, carry out procurements, and the preparation of a review of the most widespread forms of corruption offences related to these activities.
*Different approaches to the definition of a “conflict of interest” and related notions along with the possibilities to use specific forms of fiduciary management have been explored by the experts of the Anti-Corruption Centre of the Higher School of Economics in relevant analytical materials (see the following publications: “Conflict of Interest through the Looking Glass: Feasible Approaches to Defining the Concept in Regulatory and Statutory Legislation” and “Fiduciary Management as an Tool to Prevent and Manage Conflict of Interest”).