EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Archive for November 28th, 2009

Corruption in Russia, Part 3: How Russia Is Ruled

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

In a small courtroom in northeast Moscow, a judge reads instructions to a witness preparing to take the stand. The youthful, dark-haired man on trial sits in a cage of thick, bulletproof glass. The defendant, Dmitry Dovgy, is a former top investigator arrested on charges of accepting a $1 million bribe in return for dropping a probe into a businessman accused of embezzlement.

Dovgy says he’s innocent. He was fired last year from the Investigative Committee, a powerful agency set up in 2007 by then-President Vladimir Putin, many say to spy on the rival Federal Security Service, or FSB. Dovgy says the corruption charges against him are punishment for a newspaper interview he gave after his firing, in which he claimed he was ordered to open investigations into innocent people.
Dovgy’s lawyer Yury Bagrayev says the interview was a protest.

“If he hadn’t started raising a fuss, if he didn’t file a suit to try to clear his name and show he was being fired illegally — more than that, if he hadn’t given that interview — he wouldn’t be sitting in prison.”

One of Dovgy’s investigations was into the deputy head of Russia’s drug control agency. General Aleksandr Bulbov wasn’t just any bureaucrat, but the right-hand man of a former KGB officer, a close ally of Putin believed to lead one of the Kremlin’s main political clans. …

Kirill Kabanov, a former security service officer who now heads the nongovernmental National Anticorruption Committee, says corruption is central to how the Russian political system works. He compares it to feudalism.
“It’s a system of vassals, headed by a group of high-ranking ‘untouchables,'” he says. “Each group has its own network, a criminal system in which loyalty is bought.”…more here

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Corruption In Russia, Part 2: Law Enforcers Often The Worst Offenders

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

Many agree law enforcers’ main activity isn’t really solving crimes, but using their official positions for profit.

From drivers forced to pay routine bribes to traffic police, to business owners paying to keep government inspectors from arbitrarily shutting them down, the government itself estimates people in Russia shell out $300 billion in bribes each year.

‘Sense Of Impunity’
Kirill Kabanov, a former security service officer who heads a private group called the National Anticorruption Committee, says state bureaucrats are among the wealthiest people in Russia.

“You’re appointed to an official position. You’re given status, a state post, and you don’t have to do anything but collect the money you’re in a position to take. Bureaucrats have the most expensive cars and mansions. And above all, the sense of impunity.

That extends to police, who, to cover their activities, are said to regularly fabricate or set up crimes rather than investigating actual crimes. Police are also believed to spend much of their time falsifying statistics to meet Soviet-era quotas for cases they’re required to solve — sometimes by framing innocent people.

Earlier this month, a police major in southern Russia came to national attention after posting YouTube videos describing a culture of massive corruption. Aleksei Dymovsky criticized his superiors for ordering him to arrest innocent people or be punished by being required to work overtime without pay. Dymovsky appealed to officers to confront their superiors about corrupt behavior. He was suspended and is now under investigation.

Kabanov, of the National Anticorruption Committee, carries a pistol to work. Investigating corruption is like “going to war.”
Kabanov says any doubts were removed by a recent law against extremism outlawing the discrediting of officials. “Now if you call a bureaucrat a thief, you can be prosecuted as an extremist,” …more here

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Corruption in Russia, Part 1: A Normal Part Of Everyday Life

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has made fighting corruption a centerpiece of his presidency. But many Russians don’t believe he’ll make good on his word, saying corruption is central to the way business and politics function. In the first of a three-part series, RFE/RL’s Gregory Feifer reports from Moscow on a culture of corruption that even Medvedev says is threatening Russia’s viability as a state.

Just about every driver in Moscow knows the procedure.

Stopped by the traffic police and threatened with a large fine — or worse, confiscation of your license — you contritely wait for the right moment to negotiate the price of a bribe, usually around $20. “As a driver, I deal with the traffic police all the time. They’re all corrupt. Absolutely every one is a bribe-taker.”

Bribery is an institution in Russia: students pay teachers for better grades, patients pay doctors for health care supposedly provided free by the state, families pay off draft boards to keep their sons out of military service.……

Former First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov recently published a report about Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who he says funnels contracts to his wife, the head of a large construction firm that’s made her Russia’s richest woman.

“In any country in the world — the Czech Republic, Britain, Germany, even Italy,” he says, “it would be cause for a criminal investigation. Those two would be sitting in jail instead of City Hall. But not in Russia.”…more here

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European Court convicts Russia for kidnapping five Chechen residents in 2003

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

At the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Russia has lost another case to relatives of five residents of Chechnya kidnapped in 2003. Under the decision of the Court, the victims should get in total 215,000 euros of compensation.

 

The process was held on the claim of kidnapping Aslanbek Ismailov, Aslan Ismailov, Khizir Ismailov, Yusi Daidaev and Yaragi Ismailov. In January 2003, they were taken away from their homes in Achkhoy-Martan by armed people in camouflage. The decision says that the ECtHR has found the Ismailovs and Dadaev perished and defined the compensation of caused damage.

Relatives of the kidnapped persons accused special agencies of committing this crime. Having studied the circumstances of the cases, the Strasbourg Court has stated that the relatives of the claimants were secretly detained by Russian militaries.

The Russian authorities will have to pay 40,000 euros for the material damage, 175,000 euros for the moral damage and 5500 euros as compensation of court expenses.

On November 18, President of Russia Dmitri Medvedev said that the ECtHR has no right to impose any decisions on criminal prosecution on Russia. When the ECtHR decides on material compensations to Russian citizens, then, according to Mr Medvedev, “such decisions are fulfilled, as we are a member of this court,.

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Debate Over Police Reform Heats Up – Police At War With Its Own Citizens

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

A spate of violence, including at least two fatal beatings this month, has left the Interior Ministry struggling to repair the image of the country’s already notorious keepers of the peace – police.

The latest blow was the revelation Thursday that a St. Petersburg citizen died in a hospital after suffering heavy stomach injuries. The 43-year-old died Nov. 12, a week after being rushed to the hospital because police beat him severely after responding to a drunken brawl in an apartment.

On Tuesday, three drunken Moscow police officers were detained after they beat an Abkhaz man to death, posing an early challenge to the city’s new police chief. His predecessor was sacked after a police major killed three and wounded six during a supermarket shooting rampage in April.

Human rights leaders widely criticized last week’s death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who was jailed for almost a year in Moscow prisons awaiting trial on tax-evasion charges related to a dispute with the Interior Ministry.

But the debate only reached ­political prime time when Makarov, a deputy head of the Budget and Taxes Committee, told reporters Wednesday that the public felt the Russian police were waging a war against its own citizens.

“You can neither modernize nor reform the Interior Ministry. You can only abolish it,” Makarov said….more here

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Terror Attack Could Be Behind Nevsky Express Derailment

Posted by Info on 28/11/2009

An explosive device equivalent to 7 kg of TNT caused Friday evening’s deadly derailment of a train travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Prosecutors have opened a criminal case on charges of terrorism.

At least 26 people were killed when three carriages of the Nevsky Express came off the rails near the town of Bologoye in the Tver Region, approximately halfway bewteen the capital and St. Peterrsburg.The luxury train, which can travel at 200 kilometers per hour (124 mph), was carrying some 650 passengers and 29 railroad employees.

A similar derailment, also caused by a blast, occurred on the same route in August 2007, injuring 60 people.

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