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«The Russian Federation has a centralized political system, with power concentrated in a president and a prime minister, a weak multiparty political ...»

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A March 2009 law requires that to obtain legal status, a political party must have at least 45,000 members with at least 450 in each of half of the country's regions and 250 members in each of the remaining regions. This is proven by gathering signatures. The law slightly relaxed earlier minimum membership requirements that made it difficult for smaller parties to register. The law envisions a further reduction in the requirement (to 40,000 members overall and 400 in each of half of the regions) by 2012. An additional law passed in June allows a political party to avoid the requirement for signatures altogether if it enjoyed political support in at least one-third of the country's regions.

While parties represented in the Duma may nominate a presidential candidate without having to collect and submit signatures, prospective presidential candidates from political parties without Duma representation must collect two


million signatures from supporters throughout the country to register to run for president. These must be submitted to the Central Election Commission (CEC) for certification. An independent candidate is ineligible to run if the CEC finds more than 5 percent of the signatures to be invalid.

Political parties receiving 5 percent of the national vote are entitled to representation in the Duma. The election law provides for a party list system and prohibits electoral blocs. There is no minimum voter turnout requirement. The election law prohibits the observation of federal elections by nonpartisan domestic groups, making it difficult for NGOs to observe elections. In April 2009 the Duma passed a law described as giving equal broadcast time on electronic media to all political parties represented in the Duma. Observers noted that the law would limit broadcast time for the United Russia Party's leaders when they spoke in their party capacity, not as government officials, and that the broadcast time in question related to discussion of party affairs rather than policy issues.

The law prohibits early voting and negative campaigning and provides a number of criteria for removing candidates from the ballot, including for vaguely defined "extremist" behavior. The executive branch and the prosecutor general have broad powers to regulate, investigate, and disqualify political parties. Other provisions limit campaign spending, set specific campaign periods, and provide for restrictions on campaign materials.

There were 63 women in the 450-member State Duma and nine women in the 166member Federation Council. There were three female ministers. Two of the 83 regional leaders were women. Three of the 19 judges on the Constitutional Court were women. None of the political parties was led by a woman.

Information on the ethnic composition of the State Duma and the Federation Council was not available. National minorities took an active part in political life;

however, ethnic Russians, who constitute approximately 80 percent of the population, dominated the political and administrative system, particularly at the federal level.

Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government acknowledged that it had not enforced the law effectively, and many officials continued to engage in corrupt practices. Corruption was widespread


throughout the executive, legislative, and judicial branches at all levels of government. Manifestations included bribery of officials, misuse of budgetary resources, theft of government property, kickbacks in the procurement process, extortion, and improper use of official position to secure personal profits. The NGO Information Science for Democracy (INDEM) continued to assert that corruption was also widespread in other official institutions, such as the higher education system, health care, the military draft system, and the municipal apartment distribution system. INDEM also estimated in a 2009 report, and asserted during the year, that bribes and corruption cost the country the equivalent of 33 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Legislation enacted in December 2008 defined corruption and set forth key principles for combating it. It requires government officials to submit financial statements, restricts their employment at entities where they had prior connections, and requires reporting of actual or possible corrupt activity. Implementation of the legislation, however, was still incomplete. Although some agencies, such as the Ministry of Justice, issued implementing regulations defining conflict of interest in certain situations, not all agencies issued implementing regulations. On February 26, the Office of the Prosecutor General established principles and procedures for evaluating the anticorruption aspects of draft laws and regulations in order to avoid inconsistencies and eliminate loopholes. Beginning on April 30, judges were required to submit income and asset declarations to their courts. During the year the government instituted mandatory anticorruption training for public officials through the Academy of State Service. Russia has been a state party to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) since 2006 and is a member of the Group of Countries against Corruption. Due to its UNCAC obligations, the government has altered domestic legislation.

The law makes giving and receiving bribes punishable by up to 12 years of incarceration; a person who pays a bribe is relieved of criminal liability if the bribe was extorted or if the individual voluntarily informs law enforcement authorities about it. While there were prosecutions for bribery, a general lack of enforcement remained a problem. Investigations of bribery and other corrupt practices are conducted by the Ministry of Interior and the FSB, both of which were themselves widely perceived as corrupt.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2010-11, compiled by the World Economic Forum, cited corruption as the country's most problematic factor for doing business. The country's score in Transparency International's Corruption


Perception Index worsened. The country scored poorly on other measurements of transparency and corruption as well, including judicial independence, fairness in the decisions of government officials, the transparency of government policymaking, and the influence of organized crime.

In a statement issued on October 27, the Interior Ministry reported that bribery increased by 17.5 percent from January to September, compared with the same period of 2009 and the average bribe increased 1.5 times to more than 42,500 rubles ($1,400). The statement cited alleged corruption by many officials at the federal, regional, and local level, including four serving and former deputy governors and five regional ministers.

Prosecutors charged some high-level officials with corruption during the year;

however, most government anticorruption campaigns were limited in scope and focused on lower-level officials. Allegations of corruption were also used as a political tactic.

According to Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, corruption charges were brought against 120 investigators and 12 prosecutors during the year.

Corruption charges were also brought against 48 lawyers, eight members of election commissions, 214 deputies of municipal councils, 310 municipal officials, 11 deputies of regional parliaments, one State Duma deputy, and three judges. Ten department heads and 26 deputy department heads reportedly faced administrative charges for unacceptable investigative work, and three were dismissed for violation of authority.

On July 1, a new federal law came into force requiring courts of general jurisdiction to disclose information on the activity of judges. In August the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information released the results of a survey on preliminary implementation of the law, based on several types of basic information about court operations and the availability of such information on court Internet sites or by telephone. According to the survey results, which were reported widely in the press, basic data such as the working hours of court offices, names and contact information of court officials and staff, and court addresses were still in many cases unavailable or difficult to obtain.

In November 2009 Sergey Magnitsky, who was a lawyer for the firm that represented Hermitage Capital, died in a Moscow prison, where he was being held on tax evasion charges. It was widely believed that the charges were fabricated and


that his imprisonment was a result of his testimony that Interior Ministry officials Artyom Kuznetsov and Pavel Karpov stole 5.50 billion rubles ($179 million) in a tax fraud scheme (see section 1.a.). In October Oleg Silchenko, the Interior Ministry investigator who was responsible for the investigation, was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In November the Interior Ministry presented an award to officers connected to the initial investigation of the tax evasion charges against Magnitskiy. Police officials also leveled new accusations--that Magnitskiy himself had been guilty of the tax fraud.

In June Interior Ministry investigator Oleg Silchenko, who reportedly played a key role in the jailing of lawyer Sergey Magnitskiy, sought to disbar Alexander Antipov, a lawyer who replaced Magnitskiy at Hermitage Capital. According to a 2009 report in Bloomburg BusinessWeek, lawyers at three separate firms hired by Hermitage Capital were subject to criminal investigations in 2009, and their offices were raided by police.

Corruption also exacerbated illegal logging and hunting, further complicating the country's efforts to enforce environmental standards. On May 27, Pyotr Diyuk, the Vladivostok-based director of the Primorye Regional Forestry Department, was placed on temporary administrative leave after a nationally televised investigative report showed him discussing rampant corruption in his region's forestry sector with an undercover journalist on a hidden camera. In the interview, Diyuk corroborated independent reports of widespread illegal logging facilitated by bribes to forestry and customs officials. The televised report showed video footage of what presenters claimed to be customs and forestry officers accepting bribes in exchange for falsified export permits. First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov announced in June that the government planned to send a special investigative commission to the Primorye Region to examine the substance of Diyuk's allegations. By year's end the government had not released the results.

There were reports that corrupt officials largely controlled illegal hunting and trafficking in endangered and protected species through the issuance of licenses and other permits in return for bribes and other illegal benefits. On June 22, the Prosecutor General's Office announced charges in an investigation that followed the January 2009 crash of an Mi-171 helicopter in the Altai. Evidence at the crash site revealed the involvement of senior officials in hunting endangered argali sheep. Three passengers who participated in the illegal hunting expedition were charged with illegal hunting. However, authorities did not announce corruption charges in the case.


According to the press, a June report by the Audit Chamber found evidence of corruption in the preparations for the country's participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which cost more than 6.2 billion rubles ($200 million). In a statement introducing its report, the Audit Chamber indicated that Olympic preparations were "inefficient, imperfect, and involved corruption."

Police corruption was pervasive. There were credible reports that police imposed fines on, and demanded bribes from unregistered persons (see section 2.d.). It was widely believed that they received bribes from persons involved in prostitution.

In November 2009 Novorossiysk Ministry of Interior Major Aleksey Dymovskiy made a video request to Prime Minister Putin to address widespread corruption among law enforcement officers. Although the video attracted nationwide attention, authorities did not investigate Dymovskiy's allegations. Instead, in January they charged him with abuse of office and fraud. His wife alleged that investigators tried to plant drugs in his home during a raid. He was subsequently released but lost a suit for slander filed by the chief of police of Novorossiysk and was ordered to pay 108,000 rubles ($3,500) in damages. In an interview with the New York Times, Dymovskiy acknowledged taking bribes himself. He asserted that authorities were aware that police had to augment their low salaries from other sources. He described a practice considered common: at the end of a shift officers must turn over a portion of their bribes, 700-3,000 rubles ($25 to $100) a day to the "cashier," a senior member of the department. Dymovskiy asserted that if officers did not pay up, they were disciplined.

In February Vadim Karastelyov, a Novorossiysk human rights activist who assisted in Dymovskiy's defense, was arrested as he was distributing pamphlets asking residents to attend a rally for Dymovskiy and was jailed for a week for promoting an unauthorized demonstration. Immediately after his release, two strangers beat him, causing a skull fracture, but did not try to rob him. Although after his apprehension one of Karastelyov's attackers stated that he acted out of personal animosity, many human rights observers believed that Karastelyov was attacked because of his support for Dymovskiy.

The law authorizes public access to all government information unless it is confidential or classified as a state secret. Refusal by authorities to provide access to open information, or to classify information as a state secret without cause, has been successfully contested in court in a few cases. However, access to


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