Lower House committee passes bill on protection for citizens reporting corruption

Lower House committee passes bill on protection for citizens reporting corruption
The State Duma Committee for Security and Countering Corruption has approved a draft law offering state protection to those who reveal facts of corruption to law enforcement agencies. The bill will now progress to the first reading in the Duma.

The bill, developed by the Labor Ministry and drafted in the Lower House by the government in mid-October this year, offers state protection to those who report corruption to state agencies. It considers crimes in federal, regional or municipal power bodies or in state-run organizations.

The exact measures listed in the draft include making sure that the report remains confidential; free legal advice; protection from unlawful sacking or other sanctions at work; and protection from any other infringement of the citizen’s rights. In particular, the bill states that a person reporting facts about corruption can be remanded only after a special commission session with the participation of a local prosecutor. The term of protection is set at two years from the moment of the original report.

The current Russian anti-corruption law directly obliges civil servants and municipal workers to report corruption to either internal security departments of their own agencies or to prosecutors. However, the law in its current form offers no protection from unlawful sanctions that such reports can potentially engender.

In April 2014 President Vladimir Putin approved a nationwide anti-corruption program, and in December of the same year Putin himself drafted a new anti-corruption bill, proposing that correctional labor be used as punishment and that the fines for minor offences be decreased.

In April this year, Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika said that in 2016 various law enforcement agencies registered just under 33,000 corruption crimes, which was 1.4 percent higher than the results of 2015. The estimated damages inflicted by these crimes amounted to over 78 billion rubles (over $1.3 billion at current rate) the chief prosecutor said.