MOSCOW, October 7 (RAPSI) — The Government Commission on Legislative Activities has discussed an initiative seeking that officials are to take part in awareness-rising conversations, not punished, if they commit minor violations of anti-corruption procedures.

Such a measure may be applied, for example, if an official forgets to indicate in the declaration an old car that has not been running for a long time, Chairman of the Board of the Association of Lawyers of Russia Vladimir Gruzdev informs RAPSI.

The prepared draft law details the criteria by which any minor violations associated with non-compliance with anti-corruption rules by officials will be defined. It should be emphasized that this is not about corruption as such, but about non-compliance with formal procedures. For example, it should be in cases where an official, for some objective reason, was unable to submit a declaration of income and expenses on time, Gruzdev stressed.

He explained that in each state body there are commissions supervising compliance with the requirements for official behavior of state or municipal employees and the settlement of conflicts of interest.

Such commissions, among other things, discuss controversial issues related to the observance of anti-corruption standards. Every year, commissions register about 10,000 applications from officials stating that because of objective reasons it was impossible for them to provide information on their incomes and expenses, Gruzdev said, pointing out that all statements are critically assessed by the commissions.

Among commission members are independent experts, and meetings without their participation have no legal force. Representatives of scientific organizations and educational institutions of secondary, higher and additional professional education, whose activities are related to public service, also participate in the work of commissions.

Commission may also include representatives of public monitoring committees, of public veteran associations established at state bodies, of trade union organizations, which act under the established procedures within state bodies.

However, strictly according to the law, persons who have not submitted their declarations on time must be disciplined, up to and including dismissal. Therefore, a bill was introduced to the State Duma that would soften some procedures. This initiative, already adopted in the first reading, does not exempt officials from filing declarations. Nevertheless, it stipulates that in the event of force majeure, the deadlines for submitting the necessary documents may be postponed, Gruzdev said.

Thus, officials will not be able to use this rule as a loophole so as not to disclose property, the legal status of which they cannot confirm: they will still have to report their incomes and expenses.

Moreover, each time it will be thoroughly checked whether the person had objective and valid reasons for the delay in filing the declaration, the ALR Chair stressed.

Nevertheless, there is a need to prescribe in more detail which violations of anti-corruption procedures can be considered insignificant. 

The initiative, among other things, defines mitigating and aggravating circumstances for violations of anti-corruption rules. If the violation is insignificant, the punishment can be replaced by a preventive awareness-rising conversation with an official, Gruzdev summed up.