Illegal Logging and Organized Crime in Russia
Posted: March 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm, Last Updated: May 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm
By Aaron Beitman
For a country so rich in natural resources, crimes against the environment pose significant problems for Russia. In addition to economic repercussions, blows struck against the long-term viability of natural resources have implications for the health and security of Russian citizens. As suggested in a recent news story, monetary rewards for crimes against the environment, such as illegal logging, are quite high, making it unsurprising that organized crime groups play a significant role in these activities. This blog post reviews a book written by the late Gennady Zherebkin, a legal advisor for the World Wildlife Fund Russia. Zherebkin’s book, the development of which was supported by TraCCC, addresses the problem of illegal logging in Russia, notes organized crime connections, and analyzes the Russian state’s response.
TraCCC maintains an extensive database of research related to environmental crime in the former Soviet Union, which may be accessed here. In addition, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)provides excellent background material on global dimensions of environmental crime, with a particular focus on illicit trade in wildlife and timber. The Forest Stewardship Council, an international non-governmental organization, works in Russia and other former Soviet countries to promote sustainable management of forest resources.
According to international experts, global losses from illegal logging amount to more than $15 billion annually, which may be compared to aid levels provided to developing countries. In a number of countries, amounts of illegal and legal timber harvested are virtually identical. With respect to Russia case, Zherebkin notes that increases in quantities of illegally harvested timber have been accompanied by a number of negative effects. These include widespread corruption and criminalization of the timber business, the growth of informal markets, damage to the image of Russian timber companies, a decline in investment in the timber sector, and impoverishment of individuals living in regions dependent on the timber sector. Moreover, illegal logging increases damage to the environment and may exacerbate effects associated with climate change.
Zherebkin’s report highlights, among other things, the transnational character of illegal logging and the trade in illegally harvested timber. As it were, a number of neighboring governments, such as China, have largely abstained from harvesting national timber resources. Instead, these countries rely on Russia, despite the illegal sourcing of a significant portion of Russian timber supplies. Illegal timber harvests, it should be noted, are legalized in a variety of ways. The usual way of accomplishing this goal is mixing legal and illegal timber together and then using the documents associated with legal timber to cover the illegal harvest. The same documents are used repeatedly for deliveries of timber products to different consumers. This practice makes identification and tracking of illegal timber products extremely challenging.
For the organized crime groups involved in illegally logging, high profit margins are a major draw, which in turn facilitates extensive corruption among state officials. Illegal logging in Russia is made possible by the participation of officials from various state agencies, including natural resources agencies and local administrative bodies. These officials have necessary professional knowledge and experiences, are well acquainted with logging technologies, accounting procedures for timber harvesting, and maintain a wide circle of relevant contacts. Attraction of these specialists to criminal activities allows illegal loggers to carefully plan their illegal activities and prevent detection.
According to Zherebkin’s research, significant policy changes over the past ten years have been unfortunately ineffective in addressing illegal practices in the timber sector and the attendant involvement of organized crime in these activities. In 2005 and 2007, timber resource management agencies at the federal, local, and regional levels underwent a number of reforms. For one, the federal timber inspectorate, which focused on the suppression of illegal logging in local jurisdictions, lost its authority to carry out these operations. Responsibility for illegal logging suppression was transferred, to the Federal Natural Resources Oversight Service. However, the number of inspectors in the Federal Natural Resources Oversight Service is rather insignificant and has meant that the agency has been unable to play a muscular role in fighting illegal logging. Practically speaking, this decision left Russian forests without professional protection from the state and has created opportunities for extensive illegal logging by criminal groups.
According to Zherebkin’s research, there exist a number of companies in Russia which only purchase illegally harvested timber. In this way, large and small criminal groups are able to provide raw materials for sawmills, furniture companies, and timber exporters. As it were, the Russian criminal code provides serious punishment for illegally harvesting timber, but in practice fines meted out for these crimes are relatively insignificant and very few criminals are jailed for these crimes. However, it appears that those prosecuted for these crimes lack property, proper employment, and official sources of income, which means that levying fines in these cases is a mere formality. While Russian prosecutors have initiated a number of criminal proceedings in cases in these areas, Zherebkin argues that the quantity of cases initiated does not correspond with the actual number of crimes taking place. With the knowledge that crimes are usually punished lightly or not all, criminals engage in illegal logging and trade in illegally harvested timber with an unfortunate degree of impunity.
Despite these myriad issues, Zherebkin underscores the point that Russian authorities have recognized the severity of illegal logging and associated environmental crimes. Various Russian state agencies are implementing a number of measures aimed at preventing illegal logging and fighting trade in illegally harvested timber. For one, the Russian Federal Forestry Agency regularly conducts aerial surveillance of forests, carries out checks of logging practices in key regions, and has formed an inter-agency task force to address crimes in the timber sector.
Nevertheless, it remains clear that significant policy changes have yet to be realized. Zherebkin maintains that questions about the fight against illegal logging and timber trading must be brought into the national spotlight. Greater public awareness of the impact of illegal logging and trade in illegally harvested products will hopefully set needed changes in motion.
U.S. Negotiations and Interest in the Trans-Pacific Partnership: The Licit and Illicit Economies
Posted: January 17, 2013 at 3:46 pm, Last Updated: April 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the latest version in a long list of regional free trade negotiations, the purpose of which is to encourage economic integration (Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade
(MFAT), 2005, p. 5). This paper examines the possible effects of a successful TPP negotiation on both the licit and illicit economies in two sections. First, it discusses the origins, development, and scope of the TPP. The TPP currently consists of eleven countries with the purpose of removing trade barriers, establishing a trade dispute method, development of production and supply chains, and strengthening of economic and political institutions (MFAT, 2005, pp. 5–6; USTR, 2008, 2011). The scope includes all goods, services, and investments with twenty-six chapters of legal text that cover issues such as ensuring competition; consumer, labor, environmental, and intellectual property protection; transparent electronic services; efficient Customs; and ‘Rules of Origin’ to name a few (Fergusson, Cooper, Jurenas, & Williams, 2012, p. 6; USTR, 2011).
Second, the political dynamics of the TPP are discussed as they pertain to the licit and illicit economies. It determines that the effects on growth of the licit economy are, most likely, minimal. However, there is potential for future benefits. TPP countries represent the largest trading partner for the U.S., accounting for 34% of U.S. trade in goods (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 10). And if passed, the TPP will become the largest free-trade agreement (FTA) in U.S. history (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 11). Concerned industries include U.S. exporters of machinery, electronic machinery, autos, and refined petroleum products as well as importers of electronic machinery, autos, crude oil, agriculture, and natural resource products (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 11). Furthermore, two overarching political debates are discussed, one dealing with the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the other with the transparency of the negotiations. Naturally, there are many deliberations between countries and within countries at the negotiating table. However, the two debates mentioned ultimately decide the other deliberations because they decide who has the preponderance of power to negotiate and or approve a TPP – the President’s trade representative, Congress, or the stakeholders at the negotiating table.
The illicit economy discussion begins with a brief examination of NAFTA and shows that provisions to protect against the rise of transnational organized crime (TOC) are not always effective. After NAFTA was implemented, both the licit and illicit trades increased between Mexico, the U.S., and Canada (Peele, 2012; WEF, 2012). Also, in order to help the reader gain a more in-depth understanding of the numerous illicit markets that go beyond the traditionally discussed drugs, arms, and humans, the TPP countries’ proficiency in the illicit trades of environmental goods (e.g. illegal logging) and counterfeit pharmaceuticals is examined.
The paper concludes with seven recommendations that help lead to a successful TPP agreement, those are: 1) an increased understanding of the connection between the licit and illicit economies, 2) collectively addressing illicit trades, 3) strengthening IP protection (e.g. securing supply chains), as opposed to widening IP protection to include generics, 4) increasing the perception of transparency within negotiations, 5) a balanced negotiating approach that considers short and long-term economic benefits as well as U.S. values (e.g. environmental, labor, consumer protection), 6) officially requesting the TPA, and 7) incorporate many of the concerns and recommendations presented in this paper into the current discussion on the US-EU FTA.
Origin, Development, and Scope:
Beginning in 1999, free-trade negotiations began between New Zealand and Singapore for a Closer Economic Partnership (NZS-CEP). The NZS-CEP grew to include Chile in the Pacific Three (P3)-CEP (2002), Brunei in the P4-CEP (2005), and seven other countries [the United States (2008), Australia (2008), Peru (2008), Vietnam (2008), Malaysia (2010), Mexico (2012), and Canada (2012)] to form the current TPP of eleven countries (Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 2012; Gibson, 2012; Meltzer, 2012; MFAT, 2005, p. 5, 2011; Williams, 2012). Additional countries such as South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines are considering joining (Lin & Wang, 2010; Nishikawa, 2010; Official Gazette, 2010; Wallace, 2011).
The purpose of the TPP is to establish trade rules with “high-quality benchmarks” that encourage economic integration through the removal of trade barriers, establishment of a trade dispute method, development of production and supply chains, and strengthening of economic and political institutions (MFAT, 2005, pp. 5–6; USTR, 2008, 2011). The scope of the TPP includes all goods, services, and investments unless specifically negotiated to be not included, i.e. placed on the ‘negative list’ (USTR, 2011). Together, this consists of removing 11,000 tariffs (USTR, 2011). Legal aspects include twenty-six chapters of text and covers issues such as ensuring competition; consumer, labor, environmental, and intellectual property protection; transparent electronic services; efficient Customs; and ‘Rules of Origin’ to name a few (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 6; USTR, 2011).
TPP countries represent the largest trading partner for the U.S. – accounting for 34% of U.S. trade in goods (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 10). If passed, the TPP will become the largest FTA in U.S. history (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 11). Concerned industries include U.S. exporters of machinery, electronic machinery, autos, and refined petroleum products as well as importers of electronic machinery, autos, crude oil, agriculture, and natural resource products (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 11). However, the immediate economic benefits will be, most likely, minimal.
Minimizing factors of the TPP include TPP countries currently trading approximately $1.9 trillion in goods, but of which only $370 billion is not covered by current FTAs (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 6). Also, while the U.S. accounts for 74% of the goods traded, it already has FTAs with six of the ten TPP partners, and those six account for 95% of U.S. trade with TPP countries (Fergusson et al., 2012, pp. 6, 9, 11). Benefits to the U.S. economy are projected at only $5 billion in 2015 and rising to $14 billion by 2025 (Petri, Plummer, & Zhai, 2011). Though these projections are conservative, as they do not account for investment liberalization and were made before the addition of Mexico and Canada (which makes little difference because the U.S. already has FTAs with these countries), they still demonstrate extremely small relative numbers (Petri et al., 2011).
Potential benefits of the TPP include increased trade liberalization with Malaysia and Vietnam. These countries appear most beneficial to the U.S. because of their rapid economic growth, 120 million people, and current high tariffs of 8% and 9.8% respectively (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 9). Also, there is the possibility of future benefits if the TPP fulfills its suggested long-term objective of realizing a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). The Asia-Pacific region is the fastest growing region in the world and already accounts for 60% of global GDP and 50% of international trade (Meltzer, 2012; USTR, 2008). The TPP would allow for a larger U.S. foothold in the Asia-Pacific region – a region that accounts for 62% of U.S. trade (Fergusson et al., 2012, p. 10).
There are two overarching political debates in the U.S. One deals with the TPA and the other on the transparency of the negotiations. Naturally, there are many deliberations between countries and within countries at the negotiating table. However, the two debates mentioned ultimately decide the other deliberations because they decide who has the preponderance of power to negotiate and or approve a TPP – the President’s trade representative, Congress, or the stakeholders at the negotiating table.
First, the TPA gives the President enhanced negotiating power with foreign countries because an agreement made with the TPA is subject to only a simple up/down vote by Congress. In contrast, Congress is able to change Presidential agreements made without the TPA. The President has signaled that he wants the TPA, but has yet to officially request it from Congress (Palmer, 2012a). Republicans and business groups also want the President to have the TPA because it sends a message to other countries that the deal being negotiated will be honored. Conversely, Democrats as a whole are cautious about the authority because it concerns many U.S. labor unions (Palmer, 2012a).
Second, the transparency of the negotiations is in question. On one side, labor, environmental, and consumer groups contend that the TPP negotiations are too secretive, deal mainly with forming international law instead of trade, and favor transnational corporations (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012; Levine, Sprigman, & Flynn, 2012). They point out that negotiations are held behind closed doors, no draft texts are released, Congress is kept uninformed, transnational corporations are used as consultants (e.g. Halliburton, Chevron), and corporate executives given access to the texts and talks of the TPP negotiations while other stakeholder groups such as civic groups, healthcare providers and advocates, and academics are left out (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012; Doctors Without Borders, 2012; Flynn, Kaminski, Baker, & Koo, 2011; Levine et al., 2012).
Additionally, some leaked texts show that corporations may be given special privileges to circumvent domestic laws under the “investor-state” dispute process. Under the WTOs dispute mechanism the US has lost 90% of its cases, some of which involved the domestic laws of the Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Country-of-Origin Labeling, and Internet Gambling (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012). The groups contend that this “investor-state” benefits transnational corporations by 1) giving them additional access to an extra-judicial legal system that domestic citizens and businesses are not privy, 2) increased assaults on the environment, consumer safety, and public interest, and 3) more incentives to move jobs overseas (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012). Other attacks include limited free speech on the internet, reduced Wall Street regulation, and reduced access to medicine, (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012).
Conversely, the U.S. Trade Representative contends that the negotiations have been as transparent as possible and points to the more than “400 consultations with Congressional and private stakeholders on the TPP, including inviting stakeholders to all of the twelve negotiating rounds” (Flynn, 2012). He claims that some discretion and confidentiality is needed in negotiations in order that parties feel comfortable in presenting all issues (Palmer, 2012b). Additionally, he states that a negotiating text has not been released because it is too early, and that there will be time to release a text when it is ready for the people to examine (Palmer, 2012b).
NAFTA demonstrated that FTAs often increase both the licit and illicit trade (Peele, 2012). NAFTA had provisions to protect against the rise of TOC; yet it is clear that TOC not only increased in the free-trade zone, but that it encouraged the rise of some of the most powerful organized crime groups in the world (Peele, 2012; WEF, 2012). TPP negotiators should examine this rise and focus more attention on preventing the rise of an illicit economy. Currently, the TPP has chapters being negotiated concerning intellectual property, environment, textiles, agriculture, etc…, but so did NAFTA (Peele, 2012). The negotiators should understand that increased legal trade automatically increases the illicit trade. For example, trade liberalization and deregulation of the trucking and shipping industry increase the licit trade as well as the illicit trade, privatization of companies and financial liberalization increases money-laundering and illicit-investment opportunities, increased legal trade creates additional concealment for illicit trade, and agricultural reform can lead to increased drug crop cultivation (Peele, 2012).
They must comprehend that, in addition to the traditionally discussed illicit commodities of drugs, arms, and humans, there are numerous illicit commodities that need addressing. For example, the illicit trade in environmental products is an estimated $20 billion a year industry and the Asia-Pacific region is particularly vast in the trade, including illegal logging (e.g. deforestation, exceeding limits, degradation), illegal fishing, and the illegal wildlife trade (e.g. poaching) (USTR, n.d.).
Specifically, TPP countries are source, transit, and destination countries and provide the primary trading routes for the illicit trades in tropical hard woods, rhino horn, tiger cubs, tortoises, animal parts, etc… in order to supply the demand for believed medicinal purposes or show of wealth (USTR, n.d.). Damages include an estimated $6 billion a year lost just in illegal logging, loss of fishing stocks, loss of plant and animal species, and alien species invasions that disrupt the native ecosystem (USTR, n.d.). In order to address these illicit markets, the TPP must collectively tackle and enforce laws that deal with the issues. Explicitly, the issues of illegal logging, the illicit trade in fauna and flora, and marine and ocean governance (USTR, n.d.).
Additionally, one of the main debates in TPP negotiations deals with intellectual property (IP) of pharmaceuticals. U.S. pharmaceutical companies tend to want to expand and lengthen their IP patents in order to limit the quantity of legitimately made generics produced in India (Robinson, 2012). Conversely, the more developing countries and many NGOs (e.g. WHO, Doctors Without Borders) tend to want to contract and shorten the IP patents. Unfortunately, the debate appears to be slightly off target. Instead of focusing on expansion and lengthening of IP patents, the focus should be more on strengthening IP protection.
Currently, the main focus appears to be on generic pharmaceuticals. Specifically, on the approximately $5 billion worth of generic pharmaceuticals being exported from India every year (Robinson, 2012). Obviously, U.S. pharmaceutical companies feel as if their risk and investment in R&D warrants more of a share of that industry. Conversely, NGOs and developing countries contend that a large portion of lifesaving drugs are generics and that it is inhumane and against previous agreements (e.g. TRIPS), that put world health before patents, to limit the amount of generics produced and exported (Doctors Without Borders, 2012; Flynn et al., 2011). For example, they point to the more than 80% of the generic AIDS/HIV antiretroviral drugs that come from India (Doctors Without Borders, 2012). Furthermore, the current TPP negotiations go well beyond the already controversial Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) (Flynn et al., 2011).
However, more focus needs to be on counterfeit and fake pharmaceuticals. An “estimated 100,000 people die every year from substandard and falsified medicines for cancer, heart disease, infectious diseases and other ailments” (Attaran & Bate, 2012). Many of the drugs coming out of India and China are counterfeit or fake. Several studies show that of all the antimalarial drugs coming out of Southeast Asia, 33%-53% are counterfeit or fake. Precisely, they show that 35% fail chemical analysis, 46% fail packaging analysis, and 36% classify as falsified (Nayyar, Breman, Newton, & Herrington, 2012; Newton, Fernandez, & Plancon, 2008; Robinson, 2012). Additionally, of the fakes detected, 100% of them contained zero or very small amount(s) of the antimalarial drug Artesunate (Newton et al., 2008).
Most of these are coming from “small, criminal operations – not mainstream pharmaceutical manufacturers” (Robinson, 2012). A chemical analysis of the fake malaria drugs showed traces of metamizole and safrole which are raw materials used in the production of methylenedioxymethamphetamine or ‘ecstasy’ (Newton et al., 2008). Further investigation showed the drugs were being produced in southern China and illegally transported by, most likely, two separate organized crime groups throughout Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia (Newton et al., 2008). This strongly suggests that these TOC groups operated in other illicit markets (e.g. ecstasy) prior to converting their operation into producing fake pharmaceuticals, which also proposes a financial motive for conversion (Newton et al., 2008).
Consequently, more focus in the TPP negotiations needs to be on strengthening regulation of IP protection to prevent the illicit trade of counterfeit and fake pharmaceuticals, and not necessarily on whether legitimately produced generics should be included in IP protection. Driving generic pharmaceutical companies out-of-business with expanded and lengthier IP patents simply increases the price and reduces the availability of legitimate pharmaceuticals to those in need (Robinson, 2012). Additionally, increased prices and less competition allows criminal groups to fill the void with fake pharmaceuticals. A better method for everyone involved is to strengthen IP protection regulations within the TPP countries. This involves the TPP defining and criminalizing substandard, counterfeit, and fake pharmaceuticals as well as securing supply chains (Attaran & Bate, 2012; Robinson, 2012). This helps curb the market share of the criminal organizations and in doing so increases the market share (and profits) to both the Indian and U.S. pharmaceutical companies. In this manner, legitimate drugs that actually contain active ingredients to protect the populace can be distributed at low costs.
Obstacles to a successful TPP include economic, political, inter-country, and intra-country disputes; illicit economic growth; the President negotiating without a TPA; and many in Congress feeling they are being kept uninformed (Palmer, 2012a; Schakowksy et al., 2011). This could lead to Congress blocking an up/down vote on any TPP agreement under the pretext that it was not performed with the power of the TPA. Congress would then have the right to debate and change any part or the entire TPP, which could derail the entire process (Fergusson et al., 2012).
However, advocates of a successful TPP include economists and politicians that mostly consider ‘globalization’ as the future and a blessing, while ‘protectionism’ is considered injurious. It is therefore likely that some sort of an agreement will emerge. This paper concludes with six recommendations for a successful negotiation and TPP.
1) Increased understanding. TPP negotiators should have a strong understanding of the connection between the licit and illicit economies.
2) Collectively address the illicit trade. TPP countries should collectively address the illicit markets (e.g. drugs, arms, humans, illegal logging, illegal fishing, counterfeit pharmaceuticals).
3) Strengthened IP protection. Focus more on strengthening regulation of IP protection to prevent the illicit trade of counterfeit and fake pharmaceuticals (e.g. better control of supply chains), and not necessarily on whether legitimately produced generics should be included in IP protection.
4) Increase perception of transparency. Performing 400 consultations and inviting stakeholders to the negotiating rounds certainly demonstrates transparency. However, there is clearly a perception of opacity and perception often rules reality. There should be a concerted effort to ensure transparency and to increase the perception of transparency to the public. This is most easily and effectively performed by making civic groups, healthcare providers and advocates, legal groups, and academics part of an “official trade advisors” group, as well as an ad hoc congressional committee, that are privy to the same text and talks as the corporate executives. Each group does not need to have its own advisory board for the TPP negotiations, just like each corporation does not have its own advisory board. Instead, create an advisory group that incorporates these, and similar, organizations into a represented body. It is then that group’s responsibility to present its main concerns as a united front. In this manner, the US trade representative and TPP talks are not hindered by a plethora of individual negotiations, transparency is increased, and the discretion and confidentiality that is needed in negotiations is maintained.
5) A balanced negotiating approach. Projections suggest only small immediate benefits and just a possibility of larger benefits in the future. Any increase in trade must be weighed against U.S. values (e.g. environmental, labor, consumer protection) (Rodrik, 2011). The U.S. is in a strong position to leave negotiations if domestic laws and values are being encroached upon too heavily. Due to its trading size, the U.S. would certainly be welcomed back at a later date if it felt it beneficial to join.
6) Request the TPA. Although local unions may be disturbed by the request, it can be mitigated by increased transparency and inviting their representatives to attend negotiations. Additionally, it gives more comfort to other countries that the agreements will be honored. Furthermore, it gives the President more negotiating power and equally removes power from Congress by eliminating the possibility of it by-passing the up/down vote.
7) Incorporate into the US-EU Free Trade Agreement. Many of the above mentioned concerns and recommendations can and should be echoed as they pertain to the current discussion of the US-EU FTA.
Attaran, A., & Bate, R. (2012, November 20). Deadly Fake Medicines. The New York Times. Retrieved December 4, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/opinion/deadly-fake-medicines.html
Citizens Trade Campaign. (2012, September 5). “Bigger-than-NAFTA” Leesburg Trade Summit Attracts Controversy, Protest. Retrieved from http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/TPPLeesburgR...
Doctors Without Borders. (2012, August 7). Do No Harm: How a US-Led Free Trade Agreement Threatens the Prospects for an AIDS-Free Generation. Retrieved November 30, 2012, from http://blogs.plos.org/speakingofmedicine/2012/08/07/do-no-harm-how-a-us-...
Fergusson, I. F., Cooper, W. H., Jurenas, R., & Williams, B. R. (2012, September 5). The Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations and Issues for Congress. CRS. Retrieved from http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R42694.pdf
Flynn, S. (2012, May 10). Kirk Responds to TPP Transparency Demands. Retrieved November 14, 2012, from http://infojustice.org/archives/21385
Flynn, S., Kaminski, M. E., Baker, B. K., & Koo, J. (2011, December 6). Public Interest Analysis of the US TPP Proposal for an IP Chapter. Program on Information and Intellectual Property. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1023&...
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. (2012, October 9). Canada Formally Joins Trans-Pacific Partnership. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.international.gc.ca/media_commerce/comm/news-communiques/2012...
Gibson, N. (2012, June 19). “Shot in arm” as Mexico joins TPP trade talks. The National Business Review. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/mexico-joins-tpp-trade-deal-talks-ng-121533
Levine, D. S., Sprigman, C. J., & Flynn, S. (2012, May 9). Law Professors Call for Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Transparency. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://infojustice.org/archives/21137
Lin, Y. F., & Wang, F. (2010, November 10). Taiwan aims to join Trans-Pacific Partnership: minister. Focus Taiwan. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aALL&ID=20101110...
Meltzer, J. U.S. Trade Strategy: What’s Next for Small Business Exports? (2012). Washington, D.C. Retrieved from http://www.brookings.edu/research/testimony/2012/05/16-us-trade-strategy...
MFAT. (2005, July). Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement: National Interest Analysis. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Retrieved from http://www.mfat.govt.nz/downloads/trade-agreement/transpacific/transpaci...
MFAT. (2011, May). Trade Relationships and Agreements – Singapore – New Zealand CEP Agreement. New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Trade-and-Economic-Relations/2-Trade-Relationshi...
Nayyar, G., Breman, J., Newton, P., & Herrington, J. (2012). Poor-quality antimalarial drugs in southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 12(6), 488–496.
Newton, P., Fernandez, F., & Plancon, A. (2008). A Collaborative Epidemiological Investigation into the Criminal Fake Artesunate Trade in South East Asia. PLoS Med, 5(2), e32.
Nishikawa, Y. (2010, November 13). South Korea mulling U.S.-led TPP trade initiative: report. Reuters. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2010/11/14/us-apec-korea-idUSTRE6AD05L201...
Official Gazette. (2010, September 23). Speech of President Aquino at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York City. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.gov.ph/2010/09/24/speech-of-president-aquino-at-the-council-o...
Palmer, D. (2012a, February 29). White House wants trade promotion authority: Kirk. Reuters. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/29/us-usa-trade-kirk-idUSTRE81S1F...
Palmer, D. (2012b, May 13). Some secrecy needed in trade talks: Ron Kirk. Reuters. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/14/us-usa-trade-kirk-idUSBRE84C0A...
Peele, J. (2012, July 3). A Call for Caution: The (Side) Effect of Mexico’s Entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Small Wars Journal. Retrieved November 30, 2012, from http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/a-call-for-caution-the-side-effect-...
Petri, P. A., Plummer, M. G., & Zhai, F. (2011, October 24). The Trans-Pacific Partnership and Asia-Pacific Integration: A Quantitiative Assessment. East-West Center. Retrieved from http://www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/documents/petri-plummer-zhai%...
Robinson, J. (2012, August 11). Free Trade Agreements: Reducing Access to Medicine for the World’s Poor? Foreign Policy Association. Retrieved November 27, 2012, from http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2012/08/11/free-trade-agreements-reducing-...
Rodrik, D. (2011). The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Schakowksy, J., Conyers, J., Payne, D., DeLauro, R., Waters, M., Woolsey, L., … Michaud, M. (2011, August 2). Letter to Ambassador Kirk from Ten Congressional Representatives. Congress of the United States. Retrieved from http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Ten-Representatives-on...
USTR. (n.d.). USTR Green Paper on Conservation and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Retrieved from http://oceana.org/sites/default/files/USTR_Green_Paper_on_TPP.pdf
USTR. (2008, September). Trans-Pacific Partners and United States Launch FTA Negotiations. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://www.ustr.gov/trans-pacific-partners-and-united-states-launch-fta-...
USTR. (2011, November). Outlines of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Office of the United States Trade Representative. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/fact-sheets/2011/november/outl...
Wallace, R. (2011, November 12). Trade boost for Australia as Japan agrees to free-trade negotiations. The Australian. Retrieved November 12, 2012, from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/foreign-affairs/trade-b...
WEF. (2012). Organised Crime Enablers. WEF. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_OrganizedCrimeEnablers_Report_2012.pdf
Williams, B. R. (2012). Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Countries: Comparative Trade and Economic Analysis. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/key_workplace/894/
 These executives are made “official trade advisors” that gives them access to the texts and talks (Citizens Trade Campaign, 2012).
The Challenge of Corporate Raiding in Russia
Posted: January 3, 2013 at 5:57 pm, Last Updated: April 11, 2013 at 5:07 pm
In a previous post examining the connection between property rights and criminal law, it was noted how the problem of insecure property rights in Russia is exacerbated by unequal treatment of crimes against property in the country’s criminal code. As a result, there is a high level of uncertainty for many entrepreneurs in Russia. Writing in the edited volume After Putin’s Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain, Shelley notes that property acquired by force, coercion, or deception during Russia’s privatization process in the early 1990s is now often redistributed by corporate raiding. These extralegal ownership changes have affected property from small residential buildings to the Russian operations of British Petroleum.
In this context of high uncertainty around property rights, extensive corruption and poor corporate governance have facilitated the rise of the phenomenon known as corporate raiding in Russia. According to Thomas Firestone, the Resident Legal Advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, corporate raiding or “reiderstvo” in Russian, is not merely a protection scheme. Instead, corporate raiders seek not only a portion of a target business’ profits, but the entire business itself. Firestone notes four basic corporate raiding schemes: bankruptcy, corporate, litigation, and land schemes. In the bankruptcy scheme, the raiding company usually acquires a substantial portion of the target company’s debt, forces the company into bankruptcy by demanding immediate repayment of the debt, and then corruptly obtains control over and manipulates the bankruptcy proceedings to take complete control of the target company. Corporate raiding schemes often involve the corrupt acquisition of control over the target company by falsifying internal corporate documents and/or corruptly obtaining control over a significant portion of the voting stock or the board of directors of the target company. In litigation schemes, the raider files one or more civil lawsuits against the target, often in a remote location where the raider has influence over the local judiciary, and then obtains a judicial order authorizing seizure of some or all of the target’s assets. Similar to corporate schemes are land raiding schemes in which raiders falsify real property documents to illegal take control of physical assets.
Efforts to combat corporate raiding in Russia, however, are beset by a number of serious problems. In a research paper commissioned by TraCCC’s Vladivostok Center, A.D. Astafiev, a leading official in the Military Affairs Directorate of Primorskii Krai, an administrative district in Russia’s Far East that includes Vladivostok, outlines contemporary challenges to combating corporate raiding in Russia. As Astafiev suggests, criminological investigations conducted by Russian scholars illustrate that while the Russian state has taken measures against corporate raiding, it appears that levels of corporate raiding have not declined. This is due, in part, to low qualifications and capabilities on the part of the law enforcement agencies tasked with addressing corporate raiding. In light of the fact that corporate raiding is greatly facilitated by corruption in law enforcement and the judiciary system, one wonders how to escape this endogeneity trap.
Astafiev highlights, in particular, the challenges in creating a database to track and monitor investigations into corporate raiding cases. Most importantly, the latency of crimes related to corporate raiding is very high, meaning that crimes facilitating corporate raiding or the actual corporate raiding itself are not reported to the police or are reported but not processed by the police due to some additional reason, such as the payment of a bribe. Additionally, Astafiev notes how it has been observed that different law enforcement agencies compete with each other over the control of businesses and property. In other words, one law enforcement agency may choose to investigate a potential case of corporate raiding merely in the interest of cutting out another law enforcement agency connected with the corporate raid in question. As a result, upholding the law may be less of a motivation for law enforcement agencies in pursuing a corporate raiding case than the desire to gain control over valuable assets.
In an interview with the ITAR-TASS news service, Russia’s official business ombudsman, Boris Titov, had a few interesting things to say on the topic of corporate raiding in his country. Titov’s main responsibility, according to ITAR-TASS, is to change the views of Russia’s entrepreneurs, many of whom have some of the lowest opinions about current political and business conditions in the country. Titov acknowledges how poorly property is protected in Russia and identifies a troubling development, namely that state officials—especially from law enforcement agencies—have become increasingly involved in corporate raiding.
While Titov’s pronouncements are a good sign from Russian officialdom, it remains to be seen how much can be done to address the problems described here. Perhaps 2013 will see improvements in Russia’s business climate, which will hopefully benefit the country as a whole.
Property Rights and Criminal Law in Russia
Posted: November 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm, Last Updated: November 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm
by Aaron Beitman
Russia’s “cowboy” capitalist phase in the 1990s saw the growth of organized crime amidst rapid privatization of state property and a massive retreat of the state from its formerly commanding place in society. With these processes in mind, Dr. Louise Shelley notes that the emergence of large-scale private property in the 1990s in Russia recalls the need for protection, which had facilitated the rise of the mafia in Sicily over a century ago. Russian businessmen, according to Shelley, appear willing to pay “protection” because of the state’s failure to do so.
The marketization of Russia’s economy, one might say, was bound to be accompanied by challenges. However, there appears to have been little improvement in this situation. According to a recent news report on capital flight out of Russia, Russian deputy finance minister Alexei Moisseev admitted that “…There are many things we need to improve, but the biggest problem is the quality of the market infrastructure. As well as [improving] property rights protection [and] the courts system.”
Even as property rights protections remain problematic in Russia, analysts have chronicled troubling trends with respect to the relationship between criminal law and property rights. In an article commissioned by TraCCC’s Saratov Center, Professor A.G. Bezverkhov of Samara State University suggests that changes in Russian criminal law appear to be conditioned on economic trends. Once in place, these modifications of criminal law serve to negatively impact economic outcomes.
Broadly, Professor Bezverkhov suggests that Russia is continuing to go through the difficult process of building a market economy, albeit with adequate “social” protections.
As such, necessary economic regulations should be implemented, as should adequate criminal-legal protections of the social market system. Of course, history has shown that a proper balance between public and private interests should be struck.
Nevertheless, Professor Bezverkhov’s research reveals curious trends in recent modifications of the Russian criminal code. In particular, it appears that “economic” crimes are considered worse than crimes against property, even though the former crimes appear to be a special “variety” of the latter. Economic crimes, as outlined in Chapter 21 of the Russian criminal code, include fraud (Part 3 of Article 159), property damage (Part 2 of Article 165), illegally obtaining credit (Article 176), smuggling (Article 188), customs duty evasion (Article 194), and tax crimes (Articles 198 and 199). Property crimes, noted in Chapter 22 of the code, include money laundering (Article 174), monopolistic activities (Article 178), and counterfeiting (Article 186 and 187). In addition, Professor Bezverkhov notes that economic crimes committed by non-economic actors are considered more damaging than those by “active market participants with existing property.” Why this further differentiation is the case remains unclear.
While the reasoning behind the above hierarchy of crimes remains puzzling, Professor Bezverkhov suggests that the reason why economic crimes and crimes against property rights are so closely linked in the Russian criminal code has to do largely with changing economic circumstances. As such, legislators have maintained existing frameworks governing economic crimes, while constructing new rules to be consistent with new criminal realities. However, the connections between old and new laws are not consistently obvious. The result is that changing legal structures appear to foster greater uncertainty in the marketplace.
Moreover, Professor Bezverkhov suggests that the preponderance of criminal law in economic regulation, as opposed to civil and arbitrage law, has led to corruption, inefficient use of government resources, and abuse of authority by law enforcement and judicial bodies. Quoting a Russian proverb, Professor Bezverkhov sees this practice akin to “shooting sparrows with a cannon.”
Taking a step back, we might consider the implications of Russia’s continuing property rights problem. Hernando de Soto’s influential book from 2000, The Mystery of Capital, argues that property rights are essential to the development of a market economy. In nations where entrepreneurs are unable to seek relief for business disputes in courts, refuge is taken in the shadow economy, which then spawns a myriad of related social, economic, and political problems. Echoing de Soto’s argument, Anna Nadgrodkiewicz of the Center for International Private Enterprise, suggests that pervasive economic exclusion in the form of the absence of property rights also leads to a weak rule of law and corruption. This context, as it were, is ripe for the damaging practice of corporate raiding. The relationship between a lack of property rights protections and corporate raiding will be explored here in a subsequent post.
It should be clear that measures to address Russia’s property rights problem are needed, as this issue has significant implications for the country’s political, economic, and social life. How the Putin administration will respond to this challenge remains to be seen.
Philippine’s Framework Peace Agreement
Posted: November 12, 2012 at 3:47 pm, Last Updated: November 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm
by Andrew Guth
Forty years of conflict that killed 120,000 people in the southern Philippines is hopefully coming to an end with a framework peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) (Big News Network, 2012). This paper examines the framework agreement, the challenges still to come, and the economic possibilities in the region. It concludes that while the agreement is certainly a step forward, past failed agreements and the overwhelming challenges such as lack of support, disarmament, mistrust, corruption, and political violence to name a few make it extremely difficult to believe that this agreement is somehow different.
The Framework Agreement:
The preliminary framework peace agreement establishes a “transition commission” that is charged with meeting three main goals for a final peace agreement. First, the commission must establish a new Muslim autonomous region named Bangsamoro – presumably with larger boundaries. The new region replaces a similar Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) that was established in another peace agreement with the MILF in 1989. Second, the commission must establish greater political and economic powers for the new Bangsamoro government, including greater autonomous control of Bangsamoro’s people and resources. Third, it must establish a plan of how and when MILF will disarm. In exchange for a new Muslim autonomous region with greater political power and economic control, MILF agreed to disarm its 11,000-12,000 fighters and no longer pursue an independent Muslim state (Big News Network, 2012). While the commission has until 2015 to fully design a final peace agreement, it has until only December 2012 to establish what the new Bangsamoro government’s fiscal and legal powers are, as well as the disarmament plan (The National, 2012).
The thirteen-page framework agreement does not itself bring peace to the region, rather it allows for boundaries (territorial, political, and economic) to be installed so that peace can be made. This suggests that many challenges still exist. First, not everyone is supportive of the agreement. Several politicians believe that a military solution is more beneficial for the country in resolving the conflict and point to the forty years of failed negotiations – including peace agreements in 1989, 1996, and 2008 (Mogato & Francisco, 2012; The National, 2012; The Seattle Times, 2012). Also, the region has several other rebel groups that are either not supportive or only partially supportive of the agreement. These include the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), National People’s Army (NPA), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement, and the Abu Sayyaf to name a few. These groups are either cautious of any peace agreement with the Philippine government (e.g. MNLF) or benefit by having the region in conflict because is it easier to perform criminal and or terrorists activities (e.g. Abu Sayyaf) (Read, 2012; The National, 2012; Unson, 2012).
The area may be of particular interests to Abu Sayyaf because of its connections with Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Al-Qaeda, and similar organizations (Read, 2012; U.S. Department of State, 2009). Due to the Philippines weak banking system and Hawala networks, the conflict region is desirable as a financial center for these organizations (Read, 2012). Additionally, rebel groups use the region to raise funds for either purely monetary purposes (i.e. criminal activity) or to fund terrorist activity. In addition to kidnappings for ransom, bombings, and extortion, local rebel groups are connected with Chinese criminal organizations that use the conflict as cover to more readily import precursor drugs, establish methamphetamine laboratories, and distribute the drug within and outside of the Philippines (U.S. Department of State, 2009). The groups may also be moving into fake pharmaceuticals – either importing through the region or possibly setting up laboratories for production (ABS-CBN News, 2012; PhilStar, 2012).
Second, convincing MILF fighters to give up their weapons is an extraordinarily difficult task. The framework agreement is based on the Northern Ireland agreement with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) (Mogato & Francisco, 2012). In that peace negotiation, the most difficult segment of the agreement was getting IRA members to disarm. It may be even harder in Mindanao because there are other rebel groups in the region that will not disarm. It may be particularly difficult for MILF fighters to disarm when most farmers, “Islamic factions, feuding clans, and communist rebels” retain weapons (Mogato & Francisco, 2012). This affects the overall security for the entire region (The National, 2012).
Third, there are decades and even centuries of mistrust between the local Muslims and minority Christians in the region. The MNLF have forty years of broken negotiations with their Christian counterparts in the Philippine government. And rumors in Cotabato City, an economic center in the region, have already begun about Muslims wanting to retake their ancestral farmland from ethnic non-Muslims (e.g. Chinese Filipinos).
Fourth, there is a lack of competent public servants in the region. Replacing the region’s army with a regional police force is a difficult issue to overcome, and in fact was one of the biggest sticking points during the framework agreement negotiations (China.org, 2012). It was decided that former rebel fighters, who are qualified, may become part of the new police force. Additionally, public administrators are needed. Again, former rebel fighters will join the workforce by being trained in book keeping, computer literacy, legal affairs, and other needed skill sets at the Bangsamoro Leadership and Management Institute (The National, 2012).
Fifth, challenges that have inhibited past success must be overcome such as corruption, political violence, kidnappings for ransom, extortion, and economic stagnation (The National, 2012; The Seattle Times, 2012). Additionally, many ARMM leaders accused Manila of not properly supporting them politically and economically (The National, 2012; The Seattle Times, 2012). For the new framework peace agreement to work, cooperation and support by all sides is needed.
If the above mentioned challenges can be overcome, either partially or entirely, then the economic resources are plentiful in Mindanao. Mindanao contains 40% of the Philippines total mineral reserves of gold, copper, nickel, iron, chromite, and manganese with an estimated value of $312 billion (Mogato & Francisco, 2012; The National, 2012). It controls 40% of the country’s food supply and 20% of the entire world’s processed pineapples (Mogato & Francisco, 2012; The National, 2012). It has oil reserves off the coast and an abundance of palm oil for export. Additionally, businesses are eager to develop information technology, outsourcing, utilities, mining, and agriculture in the region (Mogato & Francisco, 2012; The National, 2012).
But as with most segments of Philippine society, corruption remains a major barrier to development. And even if the region moves away from conflict, major issues of corruption must still be overcome in the licit economy. Mining and logging permits are allegedly given out illegally by corrupt judges, politicians, and officials in the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) (Cullen, 2012). The mining permits are often given over ancestral land, and in turn, have forced some natives to turn to armed resistance against the corporations (Cullen, 2012). Numerous stories of corruption plague the region. If this corruption is not curbed, the corporations and corrupt officials will continue to reap the financial benefits, while the people remain oppressed and region is stripped of its natural resources.
The expectations of the transition commission are high and the time limited. It has just weeks to establish the new Bangsamoro government’s fiscal and legal powers, as well as the disarmament plan for MILF. Even if this is successfully accomplished, it then has years of further work to establish a full peace agreement. Additionally, in the midst of the commission’s work, the challenges such as lack of support from politicians and rebel groups, centuries of mistrust between Muslims and Christians, lack of qualified public servants, corruption, political violence, etc… must all be addressed. Perhaps not completely overcome, but certainly addressed, reduced, and started down a path of being controlled. So, while the efforts of the MILF and the Philippine government should be applauded, it is difficult to see how the framework agreement is going to overcome the challenges involved – particularly the challenge of dealing with other rebel groups in the region that favor continued conflict.
ABS-CBN News. (2012, June 14). Internet led to global “explosion” of fake drugs. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://rp1.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/06/14/12/internet-led-global-explosion...
Big News Network. (2012, October 15). Philippines, Muslim Rebels Sign Preliminary Accord. Big News Network. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.bignewsnetwork.com/index.php/sid/210075918/scat/0267775d6f1c3971
China.org. (2012, October 16). Philippine gov’t, rebel sign peace deal – China.org.cn. China.org. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.china.org.cn/world/2012-10/16/content_26803755.htm
Cullen, F. S. (2012, July 8). The brave non-violence of the Subaanen people. The Manila Times.net. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://www.manilatimes.net/index.php/opinion/columnist1/26406-the-brave-...
Mogato, M., & Francisco, R. (2012, October 16). From guns to laptops, Philippine peace faces arduous road. GMA News. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/278416/news/nation/from-guns-to-lap...
PhilStar. (2012, June 14). Some licensed drug stores sell fake meds. PhilStar.com. Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=200...
Read, M. M. (2012, October 22). Abu Sayyaf Crime, Ideology, Autonomy Movement? The Complex Evolution of a Militant Islamist Group in the Philippines. Small Wars Journal. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/abu-sayyaf-crime-ideology-autonomy-...
The National. (2012, October 17). No easy path to peace in the Philippines. The National. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/no-easy-path-to-peace-in-the-philip...
The Seattle Times. (2012, October 15). Muslim rebels ink Philippine pact as step to peace. The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2019435384_apasphilippinesmusli...
U.S. Department of State. (2009). 2009 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR). Retrieved November 5, 2012, from http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2009/vol1/116523.htm
Unson, J. (2012, October 24). MNLF willing to hold dialogue on Bangsamoro. PhilStar.com. Retrieved October 26, 2012, from http://www.philstar.com/nation/article.aspx?publicationsubcategoryid=63&...
India’s Anticorruption Public Service Guarantee Acts
Posted: November 7, 2012 at 7:47 pm, Last Updated: November 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm
Author: Andy Guth, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
In October 2010, the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh established the first Public Service Guarantee Act in the country. The Act was aimed at reducing bureaucratic corruption by establishing time limits in which bureaucrats must complete a citizen’s application. If the bureaucrat does not complete the request within the allotted time, the bureaucrat is fined Rs. 250 per day and up to Rs. 5000 total. Additionally, opposed to the government keeping the fine, the bureaucrat’s fine is given to the citizen, whose request was delayed, as compensation for their plight. This original state Act included six services: birth certificate, caste certificate, domicile certificate, tap water supply connection, Khasra copies, and death certificate (Anand, 2010).
Today, 52 services in 16 of Madhya Pradesh’s government departments are implementing the Act. Over ten million (1.25 crore) applications have been received since 2010 with 99 percent being serviced (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012; The Times of India, 2012). 336 Public Service Centres are planned to open within the state to help further inform the citizenry about the Act and new system, help citizens submit applications, and move the applications online in order to expedite the process (Majumdar, 2012). The states of Bihar, Delhi, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh (nine in total) have all implemented similar acts (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012; The Times of India, 2012). The Union government is also considering a similar act (The Siasat Daily, 2012). And the state was awarded the prestigious 2012 United Nations Public Service Award (Gupta, 2012).
In Karnataka, a similar act is being implemented with 256 services offered in 14 of its departments (Kumar, 2012). The system operates as follows. A citizen applies for a Building License, for example, at the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Department. At that time, the applicant is given a 15-digit Guarantee of Services to Citizens (GSC) number that enables the applicant to track their application’s status online. The citizen then goes to the government website where all the information needed is easily accessible. The citizen enters his/her GSC number and can observe the progress of his/her application. Additionally, a phone number is given in case clarification or difficulties arise while on the website. Moreover, the applicant is presented with a detailed work-flow list that includes a description of each step of the application process, how many days each bureaucrat has to complete each step, and which bureaucrat is designated to accomplish each step (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012).
In addition, before an applicant even approaches a department, the website provides a detailed list for each service that includes who may apply, which department should be contacted, the procedures involved, forms needed, supporting documents needed for the forms, and two separate offices to contact if one’s application is not handled in a timely and professional manner. The first office designated is for the applicant to submit an appeal if the application was not handled correctly. The second office is for the applicant to submit a second appeal if he/she does not agree with the decision of the first appeal (Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, 2012).
While these acts are not eliminating all corruption in India, it appears that they may be a good start in reducing one form of bureaucratic corruption. In Karnataka, every district in the state is responsible for contacting at least four applicants every day – two who have completed the process, and two still in the process – to inquire on their experiences with the system (Aiyappa, 2012). The response tends to be that application times have significantly reduced, and the citizenry is more confident that it is their right to have these services provided (Aiyappa, 2012). This may encourage the public to demand more from its government in reducing corruption in other areas.
However, there are still issues that need addressing. Much of the public is not aware that such Acts exist. Because of this, bureaucrats in some local governments have bypassed the Acts by not submitting the applications into the proper system. Instead, they keep the applications out of the system and complete them the old fashioned way, i.e., holding the application until a bribe is paid. Officials have already begun plans on how to further inform the public of the Acts and encourage them to complain when their applications are not processed properly (Aiyappa, 2012; Hindustan Times, 2012).
Aiyappa, M. (2012, September 22). “Sakala has stamped out corruption by 50%.” The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-09-22/bangalore/3402138...
Anand, N. (2010, October 29). Madhya Pradesh Public Service Guarantee Act,2010. Mighty Laws. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.mightylaws.in/275/madhya-pradesh-public-service-guarantee-act...
Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms. (2012). Karnataka Guarantee Of Services to Citizens -(KGSC). Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://sakala.kar.nic.in/kgsc1/gsc_home.aspx
Gupta, S. (2012, May 10). MP gets United Nations award for Public Services Guarantee Act – Times Of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-05-10/bhopal/31655101_1...
Hindustan Times. (2012, August 22). Bring more services under Delivery Guarantee Act: CM. Hindustan Times. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://www.hindustantimes.com/India-news/Bhopal/Bring-more-services-unde...
Kumar, A. (2012, September 21). More services added to citizen charter scheme in Karnataka. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/More-services-added-to...
Majumdar, P. (2012, August 25). Madhya Pradesh to get 336 Public Service Centres. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-25/bhopal/33384750_1...
The Siasat Daily. (2012, July 31). Eight states replicate M.P. Public Service Delivery Guarantee Act. The Siasat Daily. Retrieved from http://www.siasat.com/english/news/eight-states-replicate-mp-public-serv...
The Times of India. (2012, August 1). Public Service Guarantee Act : 8 states replicate MP model. The Times of India. Retrieved September 23, 2012, from http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-01/bhopal/32980078_1...
 This number seems high. And while it is not clear how the number is calculated, the reader should be cautious. As noted later, the number may be this high because some applications are simply left out of the system.
Addressing Common Challenges Together- Paradigm of Shared Security for Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan
Posted: November 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm, Last Updated: April 11, 2013 at 5:01 pm
Author: Nazia Hussain, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
In Nimruz, the remotest province of Afghanistan, Uzbeks, Hazaras, Pashtuns, and Baluchi migrants come from all over the country to cross into Iran. Some have humble dreams of becoming wage laborers in Iran; others dream big to go to Europe and Greece. However, instead of crossing directly into Iran, they travel ten hours south into Pakistan and from there onwards to Iran.
In this journey, they are in the adept hands of smugglers who, despite being scattered in three countries (Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan), have learnt a useful lesson – that they stand a chance of survival only if they stand united. By virtue of joining hands, pooling their resources, and sharing intelligence, they have not only prevailed over their respective governments, but also seem to be prospering more than ever before.
Baluch tribes, to whom this lawless (and borderless) region is home for the last several centuries, and who rely on all sorts of smuggling for their livelihoods, have learnt to single-handedly defeat Iranian border guards and Pakistani checkposts. Adroit coordination and intelligence sharing among these transnational Baluchis eases the process of migrants changing hands between smugglers belonging to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, respectively. It is not only that smugglers facilitate movement of war weary Afghans slipping into Iran and onwards to make a living; they are also engaged in trafficking of drugs, weapons, goods, fuel, and currency, especially in the recent aftermath of fall of Iranian currency.
Map of Ethnic groups in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan (Source: University of Texas)
That tribal and ethnic linkages recognize no boundaries, and writ of the state is not present in border areas of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan is not a new finding. UNODC has long noted that ethnic linkages spilling across borders are effective in facilitating transport of narcotics from Afghanistan to rest of the world.
What cannot be emphasized enough is the fact that the three countries face common problems. First, the legal authority of not one, but all three countries is undermined on a regular basis. Second, Afghanistan’s drug problem has become a nightmare scenario for both Iran and Pakistan; more than 70 percent of Afghan opiates are trafficked through these countries. Third, absence of licit economic opportunities and non-provision of basic amenities by governments push local populations in the arms of non-state actors. Fourth, crushing secessionist movements in their respective provinces of Baluchistans has long been the agenda of the states of Iran and Pakistan. As history has been witness, winning hearts and minds of people is easier by addressing their needs, rather than silencing them with gunfire. Fifth, the three countries need to establish security in their restive border provinces to ensure construction of lucrative gas pipelines through these areas, be it Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (US favored), or Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline (Russia favored). Sixth, a nexus between crime and terror has been formed already in the border badlands of Afghanistan-Pakistan (for example, between Taliban and drug smugglers). In Iran, ties between the Quds force (an elite unit of the Revolutionary Guard Corps) and Hezbollah (allied with the Quds force) that has been linked to drug trafficking around the world, including Latin America, have been reported. Crime-terror linkages will become strengthened and multifaceted in case of political instability in any of the three countries.
As is, Pakistan is facing crises on many fronts; Afghanistan will be in even more challenging times in the aftermath of impending withdrawal of troops; and Iran is experiencing unprecedented economic and political challenges. It becomes need of the hour for the three countries to design and implement policies that have a regional outlook, and which are cognizant of the fact that, instability in one country will spell disaster for the other.
Such a concept of mutual interest in maintaining the stability of each other has been spelled out in international security literature. John Steinbruner notes,
“The contention is that the massive forms of aggression that have been the traditional concern are very unlikely to occur because no country has either the incentive or the capacity to undertake them. Instead, the primary source of threat is said to come from civil violence and associated terrorism, apparently arising from conditions of endemic economic austerity. Those forms of violence, the argument holds, undermine basic legal order necessary to support global economic performance and thereby threaten the dominant common interest all countries have in assuring their own economic performance. If so, then cooperation for mutual protection can be expected to emerge as the primary imperative of security policy…”
In light of this argument, one can make the case that primary source of threat for countries of Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan emanates from civil violence and terrorism. This threat becomes complex in light of the fact that ethnic and tribal linkages in the three countries are facilitating smuggling of contraband, especially from and into regions with history of civil insurgencies and where state authority is almost nonexistent. Non-state actors in these countries work together to bypass laws and borders, as they know that it is their only chance of survival. Added into the mix is the factor of extremist religious ideology of Al Qaeda that has been playing an active role for the past two decades in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
Thus it becomes necessary for the governments of these countries to recognize that in order to ensure their own security, they too need to cooperate with each other. Especially, in the aftermath of withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the governments of Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan need to realize that now more than ever, it is time to recognize common threats and suggest common solutions.
Vladivostok Center Press Survey September 2012 (Summary)
Posted: October 16, 2012 at 7:33 pm
English Version by Eric Sliva, Eurasian Projects Coordinator
A criminal investigation is ongoing over alleged fraud by six employees of the real-estate company Dialog LLC in Vladivostok. The accused reportedly misled clients with fake photographs and misleading descriptions of properties, constructing the deals in such a way as to make refunds impossible. The number of victims totaled 123, with damages exceeding 2 million rubles. Three of those arrested have entered into plea deals; one has been sentenced to 3 years prison and a fine of 100,000 rubles.
The former director of the “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky Kombikormovy Factory”, currently a deputy in the legislative assembly of the Kamchatsky Krai, is among those from the company’s leadership being investigated over suspected abuse of official position. From 2006-2010, the individuals allegedly deliberately overpaid a supplier of raw materials by 18 million rubles, causing damages of 23 million rubles to a wholesaler through a corresponding price markup. The investigation is ongoing.
A former highway inspector in Vladivostok was found guilty of fraud for attempting to illicit a bribe of 15,000 rubles from a stopped motorist. His sentence consisted of a 100,000 ruble fine and a ban from serving in law enforcement for two years.
A deputy in a local municipal council in the city of Bolshoy Kamen’ in the Primorksy Krai has been charged with attempted large-scale fraud. He allegedly fraudulently obtained documents with plans for government repair works and attempted to have the 2.5 million rubles transferred to his private account. He is currently under house arrest while the investigation continues.
Investigations have concluded in the case of a lieutenant colonel in the city of Khabarovsk who admitted to falsifying documents about the use of diesel fuel with the aim of selling the extra fuel. He was charged with grave misuse of his official position. The damages to the state totaled 2.1 million rubles.
A local council deputy in the Kamchatsky Krai is suspected of the improper use of more than 8 million rubles during his tenure as head doctor at a local hospital. According to authorities, the deputy authorized excessive salary payments to various individuals.
A criminal case is being considered against officials in the Ol’ginsky Region suspected of falsifying documents about the ordering and delivery of firewood.
The former director of a factory in the city of Bolshoy Kamen’ in the Primorksy Krai has been found guilty of embezzling 29 million rubles by billing for repair and construction works on submarines that had already been carried out by other companies. He was sentenced to three years’ probation and a fine of 550,000 rubles. His reduced sentence was the result of his cooperation with law enforcement.
A senior bailiff in the Partizansky Region is accused of using his authority over two junior bailiffs to demand payments of 4 and 6 thousand rubles. He also stands accused of intentionally not carrying out a court decision ordering the closure of a club on account of safety hazards.
A deputy in the city council of “Poselok Palan“ in the Kamchatsky Krai is being investigated over suspected improper use of government funds during his tenure as director of a local hospital. He allegedly signed off on excessive payroll expenses, causing damages to the the territory’s medical insurance fund of over 8 million rubles. The investigation is ongoing.
Drugs and drug trafficking
In the week of September 2-7th, during which the international APEC summit was held in Vladivostok, authorities in the Primorsky Krai seized 179.4 kilograms of narcotics, ranging from marijuana to synthetic drugs.
A trailer truck carrying more than 90 kilograms of marijuana was seized by the drug authorities of the Primorsky Krai and local highwaymen. The driver has a previous criminal record and had just been released from prison in June.
The exposure of a criminal band in the Primorsky Krai has led to the arrest of two individuals charged with the illegal production, sale, or trafficking of drugs on a large scale. In a forest near a small town, investigators discovered equipment for the production of narcotics, communications equipment, and drug materials, including 300 liters of hash oil and 12 boxes of aceton. The arrested face a maximum punishment of 8-20 years imprisonment.
In the Khasansky Region of the Primorsky Krai, three young men were arrested for growing hemp. Over 100 kilograms of the plant were seized and authorities are considering opening a criminal case.
Two residents of the Partizansky Region in the Primorsky Krai have been charged with the large-scale possession of marijuana after police uncovered their drug-making site with a stash of 67.9 kilograms of hemp and 27.7 kilograms of marijuana.
Police in the Primorsky Krai destroyed 3.5 tons of wild hemp growing in fallow fields.
A student in the city of Komsomolsk-na-Amur has been arrested for the possession and sale of anabolic steroids, which he had been selling over a Russian social media site. Investigators discovered 8 kilograms of steroids in his possession and allege he sold 50.84 grams, both of which constitute “large-scale” amounts. The student has admitted to all charges; he faces a maximum punishment of 8 years imprisonment.
Police in the Sakhalinsky Oblast arrested three residents of the city of Aniva after discovering 47 kilograms of marijuana in their car.
In a pretrial detention facility in the Amurskaya Oblast, a prison guard intercepted a package of hash oil disguised as the filling in food that was to be passed to an inmate. The individual that brought the package claimed to be doing so for a friend; his story is currently being investigated.
A man has been arrested in the Megino-Kangalassky Region on suspicion of the possession and use of narcotics after police seized 7 kilograms of hash oil.
Two individuals have been arrested and accused of trafficking narcotics after police seized more than 2 kilograms of hash and 491 grams of methadone. The narcotics were found on a passenger on a train from Moscow to Vladivostok; the second arrest was made as another individual attempted to receive the shipment. Local authorities are calling the arrest the first case of a large amount of seized methadone in Russia’s Far East.
Police in the Primorsky Krai have discovered a home being used as a base for heroin users. They confiscated drug paraphernalia and arrested the home’s two owners.
In the city of Ussuriysk, police discovered 58 cannabis plants growing in the courtyard of a private home of a 35-year old male. He has been charged with growing plants that contain a narcotic substance, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 2 years.
A foreigner has been arrested in the Pervomaisky Region of Vladivostok for the attempted sale of 324 grams of heroin after his recent release on parole from prison due to previous drug charges.
Highway patrollers in Yakutiya seized 44 grams of heroin from a driver on the federal highway “Lena” with an estimated street value of more than 2 million rubles. The driver has been charged with the large-scale illegal trafficking of narcotics.
Sergey Alekseev has been convicted and fined 120,000 rubles for illegally catching fish while using misusing his official position. Alekseev was found to have illegally failed to report a large catch of fish, specifically of pollack (5,810 kg), navaga (1,341 kg), halibut (498 kg), and greenling (68 kg). The damages to the natural resources of Russia’s coastal resources were estimated at 856,540 rubles.
A man in the city of Arsen’ev in the Primorsky Krai has been charged with illegal hunting, with possible further charges on acquiring or selling property that was knowingly acquired illegally. Police had discovered in his home eight skins of the endangered Siberian Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) and a large number of other “pieces” of flora and fauna, including eight bear gallbladders, as well as $115,000 and €100. The Siberian Tigers were killed with firearms; experts agree that their deaths represent a huge loss for the endangered animal.
Officials of the FSB border service arrested two men near the town of Nakhodka in the Primorsky Krai after catching them during the attempted smuggling of illegally harvested crabs, specifically, 620 Kamchatka crabs and 20 snow crabs. Total damages were estimated at 270,000 rubles.
Approximately three tons of salmon caviar and 10 tons of fish products without proper documentation were seized during a raid of three underground factories in the Poronaisky Region. Two criminal cases have been lodged.
A captain of a fishing vessel registered in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky has been charged with an administrative offense after officials from the FSB border service discovered 500 kilograms of red caviar on board without documentation, as well as more than 30 kilograms of illegally harvested salmon. The investigation is ongoing.
One resident of the Primorksy Krai has been found guilty of illegally felling trees on a gross scale from two forest areas in the Pozhar Region and was sentenced to 5 years and 9 months imprisonment. Another resident, a former municipal official with the Interior Ministry, was sentenced to two years parole and banned from law enforcement for two years after being convicted of abetting the former on two occasions using falsified documents. Furthermore, the court ordered the two men to reimburse the damages caused by their actions, which were estimated at 8.245 million rubles.
A criminal investigation into illegal forestry has begun in the Magadan Oblast after 448 trees were illegally harvested from a government reserve between February and June 2012. Damages are said to exceed 705,000 rubles.
Media and Crime in Russia
Posted: October 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
Mass media has long featured descriptions and images of violence, whether actual or fictional. Whether it is the latest James Bond movie or a graphic newspaper article on serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, we are all fairly well acquainted with violence in the media. However, do media depictions of violence contribute towards actual criminal activity?
A recent report by Victoria Chernyshova, coordinator of TraCCC’s Vladivostok office, uses a variant of social learning theory to answer the above question in the affirmative, as it pertains to Russia. According to American criminologist Ronald Akers, “social learning is a general theory that offers an explanation of the acquisition, maintenance, and change in criminal and deviant behavior that embraces social, nonsocial, and cultural factors operating both to motivate and control criminal behavior and both to promote and undermine conformity.” In other words, the application of social learning to the study of crime leads to the idea that criminal or noncriminal behavior is often patterned after the observed habits of others.
SOCIAL LEARNING AND CRIME
Instead of examining how actual people serve as role models for illegal or antisocial behavior, Chernyshova’s analysis focuses on the role of mass media. In her view, increasing exposure to information has and continues to have a significant effect on our social consciousness. At the same time, this process of change has engendered new forms of mass communication and mass media. As social beings, we observe when others are successful or not in achieving their needs and wishes, usually copying those strategies that prove to be successful. When our role models employ legal, socially acceptable means of achieving their goals, social learning results in implanting positive behaviors. When illegal or antisocial behavior helps a role model achieve his or her goals or objectives, we might then copy these approaches as well.
With respect to the orgy of crime affecting Russian society for the past twenty years, Chernyshova suggests that we look beyond continually worsening qualitative and quantitative crime indicators. Instead, we should examine the growing criminalization of Russian social consciousness, which presents a formidable and to some extent irreversible problem. The criminalization of Russian social consciousness is connected to the devolution of widespread social values, guidelines, and behavior. This process results in the proliferation of anti-social views and attitudes permissive of violations of criminal-legal norms.
DEPICTIONS OF CRIME IN THE RUSSIAN MEDIA
A few examples from mass media sources illustrate how this process works, as a number of print publications, online news sources, and television programs feature excessive details and naturalistic depictions of severe and sadistic crimes. One newspaper line read: “On the rivers of Moscow, as per usual in springtime, float human remains.” Another newspaper described how “…the criminal cut into the victim’s skull and left, not bothering to remove the axe lodged in the victim’s head.” This mass “choking” of the consciousness of Russian society fosters a sense of inescapability, helplessness, and an exaggerated fear of crime.
Regular references in the mass media to the connections between criminal authorities and the “powers-that-be” also advance this state of affairs. News reports describing the technical and operational advantages of criminal groups as compared to that of law enforcement, which spreads additional pessimism about the state’s ability, if it wished, to combat crime. Moreover, the intellectual potential of modern Russian organized crime is frequently showcased through mass media depictions of the army of “shadow” advisers, consultants, experts, and lawyers in the service of organized crime.
The Russian state’s consistent failure to punish crimes is also a familiar theme. According to one newspaper, “…in our state, the guilty are not punished and in most cases encouraged,” while another paper wrote that “…most contract murders ordered by criminal authorities remain unsolved.” In Chernyshova’s view, Russian society continues to be hollowed out, accompanied by a proliferation of legal nihilism and antisocial behavior. For their part, Russian citizens are experiencing an increasing threshold for criminal behavior.
NEW FORMS OF REPRESENTING CRIME
As Internet penetration continues to grow, the relationship between crime and the media in Russia may be further complicated. Recent research from Professor Majid Yar of the University of Hull suggests that the rise of new media problematizes assumptions about the interaction between crime and media. Put simply, discussions of crime and media are largely based on models in which the media generates and transmits representations of crime, and audiences engage with them. With the proliferation of blogs, self-produced videos, and personal webpages, we are increasingly able to see people performing criminal acts in order to record them for uploading to the Internet. In Yar’s view, this ‘will to representation’ may be seen in itself as a new kind of causal inducement to law- and rule-breaking behavior.
Saratov Center Press Survey (August)
Posted: September 19, 2012 at 6:54 pm
English Translation by Justin Cade
A few figures
On the results of the work of the investigative department of the Russian Investigative Committee for the Saratov Oblast in the first half of 2012
The department reached certain goals in the first half of 2012.
Measures taken by the department have resulted in an increased number of solved murder cases, up by almost 2% from last year, and rape cases, up by slightly more than 2% from last year. The department has also been successful in solving murder cases from previous years, with 12 criminal cases being filed resulting from murders committed in 2011.
The department was also successful in uncovering instances of corruption among federal and local authorities (121), a significant increase from an analogous period from 2011 (73).
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sksaratov.ru/ViewNews.aspx?id=2622
Progress made in the fight against crime from the first seven months of 2012 was analyzed by the regional procuracy
In the interests of guaranteeing coordination and cooperation in the analysis of information on the criminal situation in the region, the procuracy is conducting meetings and organizing working groups. A recent analysis of the work done by law enforcement in the past seven months revealed that major crimes decreased by 3.1% and misdemeanors decreased by 16.2%.
Health-related crimes and robberies were down by almost 20%, muggings by 20.5%, and theft by just over 20%.
Law enforcement officials were also successful in uncovering acts of corruption, as the number of reported incidents rose by 98.6%. Overall, measures taken by law enforcement helped uncover 66.5% more crimes than a year ago.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=23017
The fight against corruption
Investigators launch a case against the director of a branch of the Federal Penal Service in the Saratov area for releasing a suspect
The director of a branch of the Federal Penal Service in the Bazarno-Karabuaksky district is suspected of accepting a bribe worth 10,000 rubles ($313) on August 23.
The director received this money at a suspect’s home in exchange for letting him go. According to protocol, the director should have taken him to jail. The director is currently being treated in a cardiologic surgical center and has been there since August 25. His punishment has not yet been determined.
For more on this story (in Russian): Газета «Комсомольская правда» – http://kp.ru/online/news/1236855/
Jury will try suspects in bribery case
A criminal case involving Sergei Filin, former head of the Red Army District’s administration, and Sergei Vologin, former director of the municipal organization “United Asset Holders’ Service,” has been filed in the Saratov Regional Court. Both men are accused of accepting bribes.
According to evidence, Filin and Volgin demanded a 500,000-ruble ($15,625) bribe from a citizen who intended to rent a plot of land from a gas company to repair pipelines, hoping for compensation of over one million rubles ($31,250). The bureaucrats were arrested after accepting the bribe. Vologin had earlier been suspected of mediating a bribe, a misdemeanor. The men will be tried by a jury.
The last bureaucrat to be acquitted by a jury was Yuri Galushko, director of the Saratov Transportation Authority.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://news.sarbc.ru/main/2012/08/21/125900.html
Saratov area police officer suspected of accepting a bribe
Officer agreed to look the other way in exchange for 1,000 rubles ($31)
A 21-year-old motorist, upon being stopped on the Engels-Ershov highway near the village of Bezymyansky, offered the bribe to a police officer, who was immediately arrested for accepting it. The 51-year-old suspect had been working for some time at his post and knew the 21-year-old violator. Saratov oblast police gathered all necessary materials and submitted them to investigators, who are deciding whether to file a criminal case.
For more on this story (in Russian): (Газета «Комсомольская правда» – http://kp.ru/online/news/1235044/)
Saratov businessman bribes police officer
Leader of a company was trying to evade an investigation
Employees of the Department of Economic Security visited the joint-stock company Guschina to verify whether the company was in compliance with the demands of licensing legislature. A director of the company offered 5,000 rubles ($156) rather than face the investigation.
The company now faces charges of administrative non-compliance and will be fined one million rubles ($31,250).
For more on this story (in Russian): (Газета «Комсомольская правда» – http://kp.ru/online/news/1231741/)
Two former highway patrol inspectors to stand before a judge
Criminal cases have been filed against two former MVD highway patrol inspectors from Ershov for accepting bribes.
According to evidence, the men accepted a 2,000-ruble ($63) bribe from a motorist who had been pulled over for a traffic violation.
The case has been sent to the Ershov district court in the Saratov Oblast and will be investigated further.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sksaratov.ru/ViewNews.aspx?id=2613
Director of a village house of culture asks for bribe
A criminal case was filed against the director of the Rtishchevsky district house of culture for three cases of bribery.
The Rtishchevsky investigative department received three complaints from citizens on July 26 that stated they had been asked for bribes by the director of a government institution.
According to their information, the director had solicited bribes which amounted to 6,000 rubles ($188) on three occasions in exchange for leasing out parts of her institution’s building. After receiving the bribes, she was arrested by Saratov Oblast MVD officers. The money was then confiscated.
Upon interrogation, the suspect confessed in full; an investigation is ongoing.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30044
40-fold fine for bribe
An employee of the Russian Federal Service for the Supervision of Natural Resource Usage in the Saratov Oblast was sentenced to a 1.6-million-ruble ($50,000) fine for soliciting a bribe.
The bureaucrat was found guilty and was fined appropriately. Additionally, he has been banned from work for three years.
According to evidence, Vladimir Zarykov, director of a regional department of the government agency, solicited a bribe of 40,000 rubles ($1,250) from a businessman for renewal of the latter’s license to keep and handle hazardous waste materials. He received the bribe in a cafe in downtown Saratov and was arrested shortly thereafter.
A criminal case has been filed. For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30338
Senior highway patrol inspector sentenced in bribe case
The Saratov Oblast Court recently sentenced Aleksandr Chubrin, a former Marx senior highway patrol inspector, in a bribe case.
Chubrin accepted a bribe of 4,000 rubles ($125) at his post near Marx on August 16, 2011. A little later that month, he solicited a 300-ruble ($9) bribe from another citizen and was arrested shortly thereafter.
He refused to confess and was sentenced to three to six years in jail and a fine of 170,000 rubles ($5,313). Chubrin has also been banned from his job in law enforcement for two years.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30316
Saratov sailing coach accused of embezzlement and bribery
Andrei Zimin, a Saratov sailing coach, has been sentenced to a large-scale fine for bribery, embezzlement and fraud.
Zimin offered a bribe of 100,000 rubles ($3,125) to an employee of the Department of Economic Justice to curtail his prosecution. The coach had earlier embezzled 300,000 rubles ($9375). He pled guilty and will face a fine of two million rubles ($62,500).
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30227
Evidence collected regarding officer’s purchase of 7-million ruble ($218,750) automobile
Saratov Oblast MVD officers are carrying out an investigation into the dealings of Aleksandr Khojeisa, an employee of the Department of Combating Economic Crime and Corruption.
According to information released from the police, Khojeisa purchased a Merdedes-AMG S Class for 7 million rubles ($218,750) and apparently acquired the car for personal reasons, using it to drive around town and the surrounding area. The MVD is looking into the legality of Khojeisa’s income and will determine whether the car was purchased legally. A detailed investigation is ongoing.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.vzsar.ru/news/2012/08/30/gy-mvd-proveryaet-dannye-o-pokypke-oficerom-avto-za-sem-millionov-ryblei.html)
Criminal case filed against briber
Saratov’s Fruzensky district’s investigative department has filed a criminal case regarding a driver offering a bribe to a highway patrolman.
When pulled over by a highway patrolman on June 27 around 5 PM in Saratov, a driver offered the officer 1,000 rubles ($31). When questioned as a suspect, the man confessed to speeding and offering a bribe to the traffic officer to avoid having his license suspended. The man will be tried as a criminal.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sksaratov.ru/ViewNews.aspx?id=2624
Criminal case filed in Saratov against a local woman for bribing an officer
Saratov’s Fruzensky district’s investigative department has filed a criminal case against a 51-year-old local woman for bribing a police officer.
According to the investigation, the woman offered 1,000 rubles ($31) to a police officer after being pulled over on August 14 for stalling on a tram track.
Details are being gathered to determine all the circumstances of the incident and a criminal case is ongoing.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sksaratov.ru/ViewNews.aspx?id=2705
Embezzlement suspect tries to buy his way out of being caught by the anticorruption department
The October District Court declared Aleksandr Zimin guilty of large-scale bribery.
On February 20, Zimin offered 100,000 rubles ($3,125) to the Department of Economic Security and Anticorruption to evade charges of embezzlement. He will be fined 2 million rubles ($62,500).
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30195
Suspect offers police officer 2,000-ruble ($63) bribe
Saratov resident declared guilty of attempted bribery.
An investigation revealed that in May of this year, A. Vykhristyuk, while driving in Saratov, committed a traffic violation and was pulled over, offering the traffic officer a bribe of 2,000 ($63) to look the other way. Vykhristyuk pled guilty and a criminal case has been sent to the Saratov District Court. He cannot leave the city and is currently on probation.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=23054
Criminal group in charge of seven gambling institutions uncovered
The activity of a large-scale criminal group involved in gambling has been stopped. A criminal network in charge of 20 gambling institutions disguised as sports bars, billiard halls and internet cafes was uncovered by means of joint operations between MVD and the Russian Investigative Committee on August 7 in Saratov and Engels.
35 house checks were conducted, 150 people were questioned (16 of them were arrested under suspicion of involvement with the illegal business). 10 people were arrested and three more were released under the condition that they do not leave the city.
Over the next two days, the Investigative Committee filed two criminal cases: one for the organization and conducting of gambling and the other for copyright infringement.
Evidence shows that the group began its activity in February 2011 and police say that it was a well-developed ring with its own planners, security, lawyers and IT workers. Police confiscated a server which connected the entire gambling network and enabled investigators to prove criminal activity on the part of each individual establishment.
A search yielded three million rubles ($93,750) in cash; 1.5 ($46,875) of which had already been declared as income. Police estimate that the group’s profit was at least 10 million rubles ($312,500) a month. A joint investigative group has been formed to further analyze the situation. Law enforcement officials have not ruled out the uncovering of new players and new makeshift casinos and it is likely that the group’s activity can be traced to neighboring regions.
Law enforcement officials emphasize that this is the first criminal case in Saratov related to gambling after an anti-gambling law went into effect.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=30244
Drugs and drug trafficking
The area procuracy conducted an analysis of law enforcement’s work in the fight against drug trafficking in the first half of 2012
Every month the procuracy evaluates law enforcement’s efforts in combating the drug trade. A more comprehensive analysis of the first six months of 2012 revealed that the measures taken by law enforcement have been effective: reported incidents of drug-related crimes have increased by 8% (from 1,575 to 1,701) in comparison to an analogous period from 2011.
Law enforcement was also successful in exposing 14.8% (from 27 to 31) more crimes committed by organized groups in comparison to the same period from 2011. This criminal activity was not limited to the borders of the Saratov oblast; uncovered crimes were committed in other regions and even in other countries.
Law enforcement is focused on nipping the drug trade in the bud. In the Saratov oblast alone, 83 drug dens were shut down. More and more drug-related criminal cases and investigations are being filed and conducted, respectively.
In comparison with an analogous period from 2011, 24.6% more (from 654 to 815) cases have been closed, 24.6% more (from 641 to 799) cases have been sent to the court and 8.6% more drug crimes have been uncovered.
For more on this story (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=22987
The PR department of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service in the Saratov Oblast informs us that:
Since January 1, they have confiscated about 12 kilograms of heroin, which would amount to over 300,000 one-time doses. According to the latest research, 8.5 million people in Russia regularly or occasionally use drugs. 18.5 million Russians have used drugs at least once. A significant number of them use heroin from Afghanistan.
This particular drug has also made its way to the Saratov oblast, where law enforcement officials have already arrested a number of heroin dealers, many of whom were in possession of copious amounts of the narcotic.
Significant amounts of marijuana have also been confiscated from drug dealers in Saratov and surrounding towns. One of the perpetrators had been storing about 1.5 kilograms of the drug in his oven, another stored the same amount in some bushes on a neighboring street while another had 1 kilogram and 679 grams on her balcony in a plastic bag.
These numbers result from an anti-drug operation called Mak-2012, which will be carried out in two phases from May 28 to October 31. The first phase concluded on July 25 and resulted in the uncovering of 246 crimes, 94 administrative wrongdoings related to drug trafficking and the confiscation of 82 kilograms 441 grams of different narcotic substances including 77 kg. 512 gr. of marijuana, 1 kilogram 701 grams of hash oil, 481 grams of poppy chaff and 307.6 grams of its extract. The Mak-2012 operation has also resulted in the destruction of 26 plots of wild hemp accounting for 250,725 square meters with 3 plots accounting for 22,610 square meters destroyed in one day, on June 18.
For more on this story (in Russian): (Газета «Богатей» № 26 (628) от 30.08.2012 г.)
Brought to justice:
Regardless of the clear difference in age, heroin brought together two Kazakh citizens, 59-year-olds Ruslan Gezikhanov and Khadami Baisiev and a 40-year old Russian citizen, Muslim Khadzhiev. Gezikhanov created the group for the purposes of smuggling large quantities of heroin into the Russian Federation. During their arrest, more than four kilograms of the drug were confiscated; this would have accounted for more than 100,000 doses. The Engels district court sentenced Gezikhanov to 10 years in jail, Baisiev to 11 and Khadzhiev to 8.
32-year-old Denis Ilyushin from Engels will also be spending the next nine years serving hard time. The district court sentenced him based on his organization of a network of Desomorphine dealers. During his arrest, more than ten doses of the drug were confiscated along with syringes and equipment needed for its production.
Denis Mironov, a 30-year-old resident of Saratov, will spend eight years and six months in jail for drugs. The Lenin district court sentenced him to this time for the distribution and possession of marijuana. He was arrested while completing a sale of the drug. Narcotics officers confiscated six bags of marijuana, weighing 138.9 grams, from the car of 33-year-old Andrei Bil’ko. Police also confiscated 129.3 grams, intended for future clients, from Mironov. Bil’ko was sentenced to three years in jail.
28-year-old Georgii Sarukhanov had also planned to make a living as a drug dealer. While in Moscow he obtained 118.5 grams of both methamphetamine and ecstasy as well as copious amounts of marijuana. He was arrested in Saratov for selling 7.6 grams of methamphetamine. The Kirov district court sentenced him to 12 years in jail while his buyer, 30-year-old Dmitrii Maksimov, faces four years.
The Engels district court sentenced 29-year-old Sergei Efemenko to two years’ imprisonment for the sale and possession of heroin. 38-year-old Vladimir Anisimov was also recently sentenced for the acquisition, transport and possession of large amounts of narcotics. According to his version, he grabbed 585 grams of amphetamine from an unknown man at a Moscow metro station which the man intended to use himself. Anisimov then transported the drugs to Saratov in his car, where he was arrested by narcotics officers. The Volzhskii district court estimates a 3-to-four-month jail sentence for Anisimov.
Users of smokeable synthetic drugs were also arrested. The October district court in Saratov sentenced 24-year-old Sergei Krasnov and 21-year-old Sergei Kozin, who acquired and possessed large amounts of JWH-018, to three years’ jail time. The Lenin district court sentenced 21-year-old Andrei Khalikov to the same amount of jail time for possession of similar drugs.
Alexei Zhukov, a 34-year-old Saratov resident, planted a few hemp bushes in the basement of a residential building containing numerous apartments. By the spring, Zhukov was ready to harvest his crops and had dozens of doses of marijuana for his own use. Narcotics officers arrested him while packing the drug into small packets. The Lenin district court sentenced him to one year in jail.
37-year-old Natalia Golovanova of the Tatishchevsky district was arrested for producing desomorphine at home. She apparently also got her relative and neighbors into the drug, charging them as much as they could afford to spend on it. At the time of her arrest, police confiscated three syringes filled with the drug. She has been sentenced to five years and four months in jail.
For more on these arrests: (Газета «Богатей» № 25 (627) от 23.08.2012 г.)
Survey compiled by Sarataov Center press analyst, E. Cherednichenko
What should I call you now, Dr. Nomokonov?
Posted: August 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:52 am
English Translation by Justin Cade
A law declaring a number of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) foreign agents has become reality. According to the law, all NGOs funded by foreign sources and engaged in political activity will be included in a special database of organizations classified as foreign agents.
Accordingly, the organizations’ accounting is becoming more complicated and control over them is becoming stricter. Any given materials widely distributed by the NGOs will be labeled “from a foreign agent;” punishment for violating this law is punishable by millions of fines, correctional work or up to four years’ imprisonment. The law has been primarily agitating Moscow NGOs, as the majority of such NGOs are directly registered in the Russian capital. In some regions this law is “exotica,” but in Vladivostok the opportunity is always available to declare agents in-hiding. Among the first nominees for such treatment is the Vladivostok Center for the Study of Organized Crime, founded and directed by Vitalii Nomokonov, a professor in the Law School of Far Eastern State University.
To provide some background information, the Center was formed in 1997 by a grant from the United States Department of Justice within the parameters of a project conducted by an analogous center for the study of transnational crime and corruption at American University in Washington, D.C.
On this subject, we met with the potential “agent” himself, Professor Nomokonov.
— Dr. Nomokonov, what should we call you now?
— From a financial standpoint, yes, we are precisely those about which you spoke and for whom the law has been written. I recall that our center was created as a result of the “cursed nineties.” On the one hand, it was time to activate all possible international ties and cooperation; on the other hand, it was a time of prosperity for organized crime in the country. It just happened to work out that way. It all began with us initiating the creation of a laboratory. We conducted research and published an academic text, “Organized Crime and the Fight Against It.” After that we received the invitation to participate in one of the “global” projects sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice (which is analogous to our General Procuracy) and American University in Washington, D.C., which also dealt with the problem of organized crime in different parts of the world. At the end of the nineties, academics from Washington, D.C. came to Vladivostok along with the Russian Federal Procurator and we arranged a meeting with the president of Far Eastern State University (at that point it was Kurilov), the idea of founding a center was approved and became affiliated with the Ministry of Education. That’s how we came to be.
— That is to say, it was a joint decision. And what about funding?
— The university provided us with office space and some technical equipment. Funding came from the United States. Every year the center was funded by a grant, although only for one year at a time. At the end of the grant period, we submit reports and if our work does not satisfy the granter, we agree to a new contract and conduct new research. At first we were funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, but recently we have been receiving funds from the State Department.
— So the State Department nevertheless requests “music” (as Vladimir Putin put it)?
— There are no “requests.” We don’t follow any “instructions.” On the contrary, we frequently engage in debate with one another and there is friction. The grant is for concrete research projects: we examined the fight against organized crime in Japan and measures of countering corruption in America itself. By the way, the Americans refused to fund this project.
— And suddenly the State Department has been using your work with some sort of subversive goals?
— What subversive goals?! Our research does not contain classified information, let alone government secrets. Our work is essentially rooted in public sources and data. We simply collect and analyze material, uncover tendencies, forecast and so on… This kind of work, the study of organized crime, is not performed by anyone in the Far East but us, although I am confident that this research is needed most of all by us. Those who frequent the center for consultation include procuracy officials and FSB officers, they participate in our events, we enjoy a fruitful partnership with them.
— So in fact “Uncle Sam” compensates our “needs?”
— We would put it differently; in this instance our interests coincide.
— Your “use” does not excuse you from responsibility and it is highly likely that you will be affected by the new law.
— But we don’t work on political issues, we research organized crime…
—… which includes corruption, which a number of experts consider the backbone of the current system. Is that not politics? Additionally, your famous “textbook” on organized crime (a fragment of it is on Winnie the Pooh) became major propaganda material in the 2004 Vladivostok mayoral election. So it’s doubtful that you will be able to refuse to have anything to do with politics.
— The vagueness of wording is the major shortcoming of the legislation. After all, that exact term, “political activity,” is not clearly defined in the Russian legislature. Any NGO could crap that out, to put it rudely. In addition, participation in politics is separated by a comma from “participation in the formation of public opinion in order…to impact the adoption of decisions by public authorities aimed at changing their public policies…”
— … which we are doing right now…
— But of course! Introducing “research for research’s sake” is pointless. The goal of our work is to study and somehow optimize the system, to change something for the better. And generally speaking, the majority of public NGOs are created precisely to make life better, meaning to influence those around us as well as the decision-making authorities. In that incomprehensible context we fall smack-dab in the middle of the “agents.” The other deal is that a double standard is at work here: for some reason religious organizations (largely supported by foreign funds) are exempt from the law as well as “subsidiary” NGOs established by government structures or by structures with partial state ownership. That is to say anything is possible for “ours,” but the law pertains to the others.
— And what are we going to do?
— I haven’t ruled out simply closing the center. Simply for me as a human being the term “foreign agent” is humiliating. I work for Russia.
Interview conducted by Marina Loboda (Actual Article in Russian)
The Magnitsky Bill and Crime in Russia
Posted: August 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
In recent weeks, a bill of note has made significant progress through both houses of the U.S. Congress. Known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, the bill honors the memory of a lawyer and accountant formerly of Hermitage Capital, once the largest Western private equity fund in Russia.
After discovering an apparently massive corruption scheme involving embezzlements of over $230 million from the Russian treasury by law enforcement and tax officials, Magnitsky relayed his accusations to authorities. Instead of following up on his claims, the authorities chose to arrest, imprison, and torture Magnitsky, ultimately leading to his death in 2009. The bill would ban Russian officials involved in Magnitsky’s death from entering the U.S. and using U.S. financial institutions.
While furor over the Magnitsky bill has grabbed headlines in the U.S., Russian society faces an increasingly criminal reality. In a recent article published in the Russian academic journal Criminology, Vitaly Nomokonov, TraCCC Vladivostok Center director and vice president of the Russian Criminological Society, outlines the systemic nature of criminality in Russia’s political, social, and economic systems. In particular, Nomokonov highlights how attempts to decriminalize Russian society have largely had the effect of facilitating higher levels of crime. Though many observers within Russia have underscored the urgent need for decriminalization, these efforts are hindered in part due to the absence of coherent federal or regional decriminalization policies.
Unfortunately, the appearance of new government decriminalization programs has corresponded with an increase in reported crimes and decreases in registered and prosecuted crimes. According to official statistics provided by the Russian Interior Ministry, the number of reported crimes resulting in prosecutions has declined one percentage point each year, from 12% in 2008 to a paltry 8% in 2012. This occurred as the number of reported crimes increased by roughly one million each year, with 21.5 million reported crimes in 2008 and 24.6 million in 2012.
It also seems that corrupt bureaucrats have pushed for changes in anti-crime policies and criminal laws that are beneficial to them and their associates. For example, in 2011, judges were awarded the right to “independently” determine the appropriate category for smuggling and contraband-related crimes. This ostensible judicial independence only creates more opportunities for a corruption in a legal system highly susceptible to outside “influence.” Moreover, questions are being raised increasingly about how the convoluted wording of Russia’s criminal laws facilitates criminal behavior. In other words, by knowing the law, criminals can commit crimes with the knowledge that they are unlikely to be prosecuted.
CRIME AND THE STATE
Nomokonov points out that legal theorists have long noted the contradictory role of the state as regulator of law and order and pursuer of high moral goals. In order to achieve security-related ends, the state must employ violence. This often comes at a considerable ethical price and results in the moral decline of the state.
In the words of Russian affairs specialist Nikolai Zlobin, as quoted by Nomokonov, the state should always be honest with the people. A leader’s most important goal should be guaranteeing the honesty of state power, ensuring that state operations are legal, and working to ensure that every bureaucrat is honest and law-abiding. A dishonest bureaucrat creates the popular impression of a dishonest president, which undermines the president’s legitimacy, raises doubts with respect to the sincerity of the president’s motives for making particular decisions, and suggests questions about the president’s ability to clean up corruption. Such bureaucrats are the main enemies of the president within the state. In Zlobin’s opinion, this is exactly what is happening in Russia today.
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
Efforts to limit criminality require addressing the serious degradation of Russia’s political, economic, social, and moral life. This degradation, in one way or another, has crippled society, the state, and the individual. As such, for decriminalization to work, state policies with respect to crime and corruption must be altered significantly. Instead of merely serving the corporate interests of a narrow wealthy stratum, the state needs to work for the good of a majority of the population.
Instead of experiencing social solidarity and cohesion, Russian society has essentially been cleft into legal and shadow worlds. Legitimate state power exists alongside the shadow state, the legal economy jockeys with the shadow economy, and legal social organizations compete with shadow ones. For Nomokonov, these trends may be reversed only through systemic change in concert with those healthy social institutions capable of facilitating progress.
A DIM OUTLOOK
Although Nomokonov’s assessment of current conditions is anything but positive, he maintains that change is indeed possible. In a blog post at Foreign Policy, Sergei Magnitsky’s former colleague Jamison Firestone writes about how acting upon the evidence Magnitsky provided would begin the process of cleansing the Russian state of corrupt officials and would set new standards for expected behavior. However, the pushback against the Magnitsky bill and the Russian government’s meagre efforts to respond to the evidence unearthed by Magnitsky seems to suggest that progress in Russia’s decriminalization efforts is further away than ever.
Vladivostok Press Survey, July 2012
Posted: July 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
English Summary by Justin Cade
Murder for Hire
Sergei Krivorotov, General Director of the VladStroiZakazchik construction company, was found dead on Chaikovsky Street in Vladivostok the morning of June 13. He allegedly was accused of not paying his employees and a post mortem investigation uncovered numerous violations of labor laws, including failing to pay his employees. The procuracy is looking into the case for more information.
Crimes committed by organized groups are on the decline in Yakutia, the Amur region and the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais, but local law enforcement refuses to become complacent. In fact, in the Far Eastern Federal Okrug reported only 159 crimes committed by organized groups in 2011 compared to the 367 from 2010. Only 21 of the 159 crimes from 2011 were economic.
Six members of the “Primorsky Partisans” criminal band are being tried for a series of attacks on local police officers. Two of the attacks were fatal and many others resulted in serious injury. The “Partisans” are also accused of killing four drug dealers, committing a series of robberies, concealment of illegal weapons and banditism. The young men range from 18 to 23 years of age. Four of them are in police custody while the other two committed suicide at the time of their arrest on June 11, 2010 in Ussuriisk. An investigation yielded further information into the group’s past criminal activities such as rape and drug trafficking.
A criminal group from Chechnya was recently arrested in the First of May district of Vladivostok. Their past criminal activities included robbery, blackmail and takeovers of local businesses. A series of criminal charges have been filed.
A criminal group which included realtors and local businessmen was recently arrested in Khabarovsk. They are accused of offering residents of the city apartments for discounted prices and running away with their clients’ money. The leader of the group faces up to 20 years in prison.
Dalrate, a 2011 project ranking the regions of the Russian Far East in terms of corruption, has declared the most corrupt region to be the Sakhalin Oblast, where 133 charges of corruption were filed last year. It’s worth noting that the Primorsky Krai ranks fourth with 114 corruption cases in 2011. Three government workers were tried for corruption. Bribes were accepted by 15 law enforcement officials, 14 health care providers and six educators.
Employees of the Vladivostok mayor’s office have been accused with paying for a 250,000-ruble tourist trip to Hong Kong from the city budget in March. Vice Mayor Liudmila Beliakova is among the accused. The bureaucrats claimed they were visiting an exhibition in Hong Kong when in reality it was a leisurely excursion. An investigation is ongoing.
A highway patrolman was arrested in a Vladivostok suburb for soliciting a 50,000-ruble bribe from an intoxicated motorist. An investigation into the act has been announced and the court will soon decide its next move in the prosecution.
A respected professor in Vladivostok has been accused of accepting bribes in exchange for lenience to his students. He apparently asked for bribes of 2,000 rubles from students during the exam period in exchange for higher grades and was caught when 11 of his students reported him to the police. The professor was able to collect 13,000 rubles for his “services” and has been fired from the institution at which he worked. The Russian Investigative Committee of the Primorsky Krai is conducting a more thorough investigation.
The procuracy in Khabarovsk has filed a criminal charge against the former director of a penal colony settlement for abuse of powers. According to evidence, the director illegally signed contracts with heads of agriculture and local businessmen. The director indicated to his subordinates that they would have to pay the remaining costs involved with the contracts, which amount to over 23 million rubles. An investigation is ongoing.
Investigative departments in the Primorsky Krai have filed criminal charges against an employee of the regional State Labor Inspection for accepting a 30,000-ruble bribe in exchange for not reporting violations in production. He is currently under house arrest as an investigation is being conducted.
A criminal charge has been filed against the former director of the Kirov House for Mentally Handicapped Children in the Tymovsky District. The former director is accused of the misappropriation of pensions, accounting for over 10 million rubles.
Drugs and drug trafficking
Ussuriisk narcotics officers have already liquidated two large-scale plots of cannabis (over 7,000 square meters each) near the village of Turii Rog in the Khankaisky District of the Primorsky Krai. Experts assert that over one million bushes of cannabis were growing in the plots. Narcotics officers confiscated over 261 grams of hash oil in the village of Platono-Aleksandrovskoe, also in the Khankaisky District. Additionally, a bag containing over 2.7 kilograms of marijuana was confiscated from a resident of the Arkhangelo-Kirovsky District. All perpetrators have been arrested and an investigation is ongoing.
Employees of the Federal Drug Control Service in the Primorsky Krai confiscated 994.6 grams of a synthetic narcotic substance, a mix of JWH-022 and AM-2201. The drugs were sent from Moscow to the address of an unemployed female resident of Vladivostok. A criminal case has been filed and an investigation is ongoing.
A Kyrgyz citizen transported almost 200 grams of heroin to Kamchatka in his stomach and was arrested shortly after his arrival and subsequent medical treatment. Apparently the arrested man was bringing more heroin to a Kyrgyz contact who had been working in construction on the peninsula for quite some time. The construction worker offered 400,000 rubles in exchange for a fresh delivery from the courier. Both of the men face up to 20 years in prison for drug trafficking.
Fishermen on the southern shores of Kamchatka were caught growing cannabis in the gulley of their boat. When confronted by police, the men attempted to escape, but were ultimately arrested. The police also confiscated about 100 grams of marijuana from the boat. The grower faces a 1-to-3-year observation period.
On a train going from Moscow to Vladivostok, a 25-year-old woman from Tajikistan was arrested for transporting a large amount of heroin. Police discovered 5 kilograms of heroin in her purse with an additional compartment on the bottom. It was discovered that in Ussuriisk a 32-year-old woman convinced her to go to Moscow and back to obtain the drugs in exchange for a payment of 15,000 rubles.
Nine Chinese citizens have been arrested for violating the Russian-Chinese border by fishing in the Amur and Ussuri Rivers. They will be fined 12,000 rubles.
Kamchatka border patrol arrested two Russian fishing boats suspected of poaching in the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatka. The boats contained illegal large-scale catches of crab and ray valued at an estimated 1.8 rubles on the first boat and 1,5 million on the other. The captains of both ships will be tried as criminals.
Inspectors uncovered over 20 tons of illegally caught live crab on a fishing vessel flying under a foreign flag on June 17 in the Sea of Okhotsk. The captain and nine crew members are Russian citizens while two crew members are Ukrainian.
The procuracy of the Khankaisky District has sentenced a man accused of illegal logging in the area to a year in prison with two years’ probation. According to evidence, the man chopped 14 Mongolian Oaks and 37 birch trees, accounting for 134,811 rubles worth of damage to the Russian economy. He is also required to repay the Russian Federation in full for the damage he caused.
Illegal deliveries of seafood continue to harm the ecology and economy of the Russian Far East. The undocumented export of seafood caught in Russian Far East waters to Japan, China and Korea accounts for $1.8 billion. Overfishing is also a serious threat to the ecological harmony of the Russian Far East and violators often go unpunished. Even though Russia signed an anti-poaching agreement with South Korea in 2009, poached crab continuously ends up on the Korean seafood market. No similar agreement has been signed with Japan, China or the United States.
The criminal situation in the Far East can be characterized by a growth in economic crime, most often connected to the exploitation of the rich natural resources of the region. The fishing and lumber industries are hit the hardest; according to experts, the illegal export of lumber and ocean bioresources accounts for over seven billion rubles’ and 60 million rubles’ worth of damage respectively. Most of these illegal resources are exported to China and Japan. Experts state that in Russia innumerable problems and new threats to economic security arise on a daily basis and the government does nothing about them. The Far East faces a serious problem in safeguarding economic stability and the problem can only be solved by combining forces.
Valentin Polyakov, director of the joint stock company Printek-Garant, has been accused of large-scale fraud by the Vladivostok procuracy. According to evidence, Polyakov is responsible for laundering over 15 million rubles. The criminal case has been sent to the Frunzensky District Court of Vladivostok for further investigation.
A 40-year-old man from Irkutsk claims he is the victim of deception by a Primorsky Krai swindler. The man enjoyed visiting social networks and entertainment sites as well as email on sleepless nights. Eventually the man was confronted with a deceptive proposal that suggested he could win a large sum of money and become a partner in a Libyan business project. The normally cautious man was enticed by the author’s supposed 3 million Euros reserved for a business venture and sent the $50,000 required for “unfreezing” the Libyan account to an unknown address. Upon realizing that he had been had, the Irkutsk man reported the incident to the police, who are currently examining documents and clarifying the conditions and details of the situation.
Regional press survey for Saratov and the Saratov region, June 2012
Posted: July 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
English Summary by Justin Cade
A few statistics
The region’s Prosecutor General’s office recently concluded an examination into the effectiveness of anti-extremism, anti-terrorism and anti-drug legislation over a five-month period in 2012.
In this period, investigators uncovered 158 violations of anti-extremism laws. Disciplinary measures were taken against 87 people. 438 violations of anti-terrorism laws led to disciplinary measures being taken against 124 guilty parties. 283 violations of anti-drug laws were reported with 114 citizens being charged.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=22537
Concealment of Crimes
On June 28, Assistant Prosecutor General Sergei Zaitsev hosted a conference which was attended by subjects of the Privolzhsky Federal District’s Prosecutor General’s Office, leaders of the territorial divisions of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation as well as chiefs of the region’s Ministry of the Interior. The conference’s theme was the state of legality in guaranteeing constitutional rights to citizens in the pre-trial period in criminal proceedings.
Zaitsev claimed that a significant number of crimes was concealed by means of denial of admission as well as by the falsification of materials for pre-investigation inspections. The procuracy initiated 34 criminal cases on these grounds; more than one half of them will be conducted in the Republics of Tatarstan and Udmurtia as well as in the Saratov oblast.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=29183
The investigative department of Saratov’s Lenin district concluded its criminal investigation into the dealings of a former authorized neighborhood police inspection point accused of exceeding its authority and ancillary fraud. According to evidence, an inspector, wishing to artificially improve his job efficiency without encumbering himself with the conducting of inspections and the searching of individuals, openly stole the property of local residents by violent means for almost two years, collecting bogus material which distorted the nature of his actual dealings with citizens at the checkpoints. The suspect plead innocent and denied stealing the items. A criminal case has been submitted to the Lenin district court for further investigation.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=29081
The fight against corruption
On June 18, a roundtable bearing the title “Interaction of the Saratov Region’s Enterprises with Contractors and Suppliers. Small Business Development: New Forms and Approaches” was held at the Saratov Region’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The event was attended by representatives from the regional government, leaders of large business enterprises in the region as well as small and midsize businesses. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s senior vice president Yulia Nazarova opened the meeting by stating that the introduction of anticorruption procedures is still not sufficiently developed in Russia. Maksim Shikhalov, deputy minister of trade and energetics, supported her view, suggesting that regional directors create local councils for interaction with contractors and suppliers.
As was made clear during the discussion, there are many problems in interaction between large and small businesses. Boris Chernoded, director of Lafit Plus, LLC, discussed in detail the difficulties facing companies of such a small size in receiving contracts for work not requiring licensing. He also claimed that such contracts are always won by large firms who hire highly-qualified professionals. Dmitry Butenko, director of the Engels Tubular Factory, a private company, shared an absurd story from the other end of the spectrum. They simply could not find a contractor to complete a large-scale investment project with a budget of 60 million rubles.
Natalia Popkova, assistant minister of economic development and trade of the Saratov region, believes that the creation of a singular informational base for local enterprises, a so-called subcontracting center, will alleviate the problem.
Roundtable participants left the discussion of the opinion, that in order for companies to uphold anticorruption measures that they must continue to better their business reputations and increase the attractiveness of investment; smaller companies should consider new opportunities for the development of investment on the market.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=28929
The head doctor of a Saratov region dispensary demanded a bribe of 2,000 rubles from a local resident in exchange for the hospitalization of a relative in a psychiatric ward. The suspect pled guilty and cooperated with investigators in full. He was pronounced guilty and faces a fine of 500,000 rubles and two years’ suspension from the job.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.prov-telegraf.ru/proisshestviua/17346-glavvrach-vyplatit-polmilliona-rublej-shtrafa-za-vymoganie-vzyatki.html)
Saratov officials arrested three female medical college instructors accused of accepting 50,000 rubles from students in exchange for good grades. The teachers are now being interrogated as suspects and are forced to remain in the city. A criminal case has been filed.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=29044
Police arrested the director of the October district of Saratov’s housing and utilities infrastructure, Igor Agapov. According to evidence, Agapov solicited a bribe of 350,000 rubles from a friend in exchange for concluding a rent agreement for a property that could have been privatized. He was arrested upon receipt of the first half of the bribe and willingly confessed his crime. He is currently prohibited from leaving the city. According to the mayor’s office, no one would have guessed that Agapov, cited as a man of “fine character,” would have committed such a crime.
Source: (Газета «Коммерсантъ (Саратов)» № 117 за 2012 г.)
According to evidence, on June 21, a highway patrolman covering the Atkarsky district of the Saratov oblast solicited a bribe of 1,000 rubles from a driver pulled over on the Nizhny Novgorod-Saratov highway. The driver reported the act to local law enforcement, the patrolman was arrested and fully confessed to the crime. An investigation is ongoing.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sksaratov.ru/ViewNews.aspx?id=2515
A Saratov region highway patrolman accepted a bribe of 4,000 rubles from a driver going in the opposite direction of traffic and 300 rubles from a speeder. The officer is now under watch as further evidence is examined.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=22346
The director of the Krasnopartizansky district’s House of Culture accepted a bribe in exchange for renting out the cultural establishment, a nonresidential complex of 573.7 square meters. She now faces a fine of 70,000 rubles with a suspension of working in municipal establishments for a year and a half.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=22321
Murder involving abduction
On June 28, the Saratov District Court announced its verdict in the criminal case involving the kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Ilnara Yagudina. Kadria Mizinova was found guilty on all counts earlier last month. She faces seven years imprisonment for knowingly kidnapping a minor, nine years imprisonment for perjury and 13 years imprisonment for knowingly murdering a minor with the intent of concealing another crime. Mizinova also must pay a fine of 1.5 million rubles to Ilnara Yagudina’s parents as compensation for their loss and subsequent emotional trauma.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.om-saratov.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=29179
Members of a multi-regional criminal group involved in the supply and sale of counterfeit bank notes in denominations of 1,000 and 5,000 rubles were arrested in June. Two of the criminals, a citizen of the Stavropol Krai and his accomplice, were arrested in an Engels restaurant for attempting to sell 500,000 counterfeit rubles. Two more members of the criminal group were arrested in the Stavropol Krai. Members of the group sold the counterfeit banknotes at 50% of their actual value and had been operating in the Saratov region since October 2011, participating in at least 20 fraudulent sales. As of the present, Ministry of the Interior employees are examining additional criminal acts committed by the group.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.prov-telegraf.ru/proisshestviua/17331-zaderzhany-uchastniki-mezhregionalnoj-gruppy-falshivomonetchikov.html)
Court hearings are closed on a criminal case initiated in August 2011 against an organized crime group which stole oil deposits from a commercial pipeline which belonged to Saratovneftegaz. Five members of the group were arrested by Engels district police in August of last year for stealing oil deposits worth over 300,000 rubles and were found to have stolen from Saratovneftegaz on two previous occasions. Four members of the group were sentenced to 3.5 to 5 years of imprisonment.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sar.rodgor.ru/news/tkrim/14641/)
Drugs and drug trafficking
Balashov narcotics officers arrested a 27-year-old man for selling marijuana and found additional doses of the drug on his person. Also arrested in Balshov was a 32-year-old woman, who was caught with nearly two kilograms of fresh marijuana. A 20-year old man was arrested on the street in Balakovo for carrying a bag with one kilogram of marijuana. A 26-year-old man in the Lenin district of Saratov for possessing nearly two kilograms of marijuana. A Saratov 35-year-old man was arrested for large-scale possession of marijuana; also found on his person was hash oil weighing 249.2 grams, considered a significant amount by police.
Citizens are also growing marijuana in courtyards of their apartment complexes. For example, the entire courtyard of a 23-year-old Ershov man was overgrown with the narcotic plant, which was promptly destroyed by narcotics police. It turned out that he was growing 480 hemp plants. Another Ershov resident, a 44-year-old man, was growing even more than the 23-year-old as 1,344 hemp plants were destroyed in his courtyard.
Source: (Газета «Богатей» № 21 от 21.06.2012 г.)
On June 26, Engels narcotics officers uncovered the sale of 0.32 grams of JWH-018, a narcotic intended to be smoked. As a result, an Engels man was arrested. Upon inspection, police found another 0.25 grams of the drug on his person. He is now being tried with the illegal sale and possession of large volumes of narcotic substances.
Our Saratov Center recommends the following link for more (in Russian): http://www.sarprok.ru/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=22676
Vladivostok Press Survey- May 2012
Posted: July 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
English Summary by Justin Cade
After an extensive two-year investigation, an organized group of Khabarovsk racketeers was charged with fraud, extortion and criminal attempt. The group had been operating in the real estate market since 2007 and had ultimately extorted an estimated 4.5 million rubles from its victims.
Three former Spetsnaz soldiers who served in the security forces on active duty are being accused of bandit activity in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Krais. Arrested in November of 2011, the former soldiers are suspects in a series of armed robberies in the area. Police confiscated numerous weapons issued to Spetsnaz soldiers from the criminals at the time of arrest. According to the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, they could face a prison sentence of up to 15 years. For now, the leader of the bandit group is under strict house arrest, one of his sidekicks has been arrested and the other has signed a recognizance not to leave town. An investigation is being conducted by the military investigative department in Khabarovsk.
Investigators in the Primorsky Krai have completed their criminal investigation into the dealings of six men accused of bandit activity; the illegal obtaining, storing and carrying of a weapon; three counts of murder; four cases of robbery; theft of documents; intentional destruction of private property; three counts of encroachment on the lives of three law enforcement officials; embezzlement of weapons; nine counts of theft; highjacking vehicles and attempted escape from a correctional facility. All in all, the men are facing close to 30 criminal charges. On June 11, 2010 members of the criminal band were arrested in Ussuriisk after violent resistance, which led to the injuring of two police officers. Two of the men chose to commit suicide over submitting to authorities. The suspects partially confessed to the crimes; evidence gathered will now be examined in greater detail by the court.
Ex-businessman and former representative of the Primorsky Krai legislative assembly, Evgeny Ovechkin, is suspected of large-scale fraud committed while he was working in the private sector. Apparently his former company did not settle its accounts with gas suppliers from Khabarovsk. Evidence indicates that in 2008, Ovechkin, now under house arrest, stole upwards of 38 million rubles from an oil company by means of fraud. He has also been accused of owing more than 20 million rubles to a local bank.
The Federal Investigative Committee of the Khabarovsk Krai has accused Alexei Pavlovsky, former head of the Polina Osipenko district’s branch of the Federal Institution for Criminal Investigation, of accepting a bribe. He pled guilty to preparing documents for two convicted robbers to acquit them of charges. The documents were approved by the courts and one of the men paid Pavlovsky 20,000 rubles for his efforts. Pavlovsky must now pay a fine twenty-five times greater than the sum of the bribe, or 500,000 rubles.
The Ministry of the Interior uncovered large-scale speculation in the federal Russian fishing agency, Rosrybolovstvo. In 2005, the government agency received close to a billion rubles for the construction of ships for scientific purposes. However, all of this money ended up in accounts of private companies controlled by civil servants and the ships remained unfinished. Valery Suraev, a former Rosrybolovstvo employee, is being accused of fraud accounting for 300 million rubles. Ministry of Interior sources emphasize that Suraev might not be the only guilty party in this criminal case as another 800 million rubles is said to have been stolen in this case.
Yakutsk police arrested the head of the village of Ust-Kuyga in the Ust-Yansky region of the republic for accepting a bribe. According to evidence, the bureaucrat demanded three million rubles from the director of the joint stock company Teploenergoservis in exchange for his signing acts of collation to supply heat to the residential sector of the village.
Drugs and drug trafficking
On May 12, the assistant prosecutor general of the Khabarovsk Krai pronounced a 36-year-old Azerbaijani citizen living in Khabarovsk guilty of the illegal distribution and possession of heroin. An investigation revealed that he had been coming to Russia on a regular basis to sell heroin to residents of hospitable Khabarovsk. A small arsenal of weapons was discovered in the apartment in which he had been staying.
On the same day, Ussuriisk police stopped a Nissan for inspection. The woman in the passenger seat was immediately suspected of concealing something. Police then discovered ten small packages with a substance that resembled narcotics. An examination revealed that the substance was heroin, weighing over three grams. The 32-year-old woman is already being tried for drug-related crimes.
A 34-year-old man from Ussuriisk was arrested on the street for possessing five grams of heroin. The man was charged with the illegal acquisition, possession, transfer and production of a narcotic substance. He faces a prison sentence of up to ten years with a large fine.
(Original Russian version is available upon request)
Corporate raiding in Saratov
Posted: June 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
For many successful entrepreneurs across the former Soviet Union, corporate raiding remains a real and present fear. According to the Center for International Private Enterprise’s Development Blog, corporate raiders aim to take charge of a company’s ownership through a combination of legal and illegal measures, such as official raids, forced bankruptcies, use of falsified documents, and the violent seizure of company property. The Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation, a state financial control agency, reports that there are roughly 65,000 incidents of corporate raiding in Russia every year.
With assistance of corrupt officials in the judiciary, corporate raiders obtain court orders to carry out official searches for confiscating important documents and other property, to use law enforcement to prevent a company’s legal owners from gaining access to their offices, and to even physically take possession of a target company. Corrupt links to state registration agencies enable corporate raiders to obtain false documents and to eliminate real documents, and so on.
TraCCC grants competition winner Olga Bezverkhova of the Saratov State Academy of Law asserts in a recent report that Saratov, a large city located on the Volga River 500 miles southeast of Moscow, is highly susceptible to corporate raiding. This is due in part to a particularly weak local judicial system and ineffective law enforcement agencies. However, corruption is the biggest the facilitator of corporate raiding in Saratov, as corrupt links within the judicial and tax systems as well as law enforcement make extensive corporate raiding possible.
Agrobusiness disaster: OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya”
A sobering example of corporate raiding in Saratov is the takeover and dismantling of OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya,” a major regional agriculture producer.
Bezverkhova views the fate of OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya” as a classic case of corporate raiding, featuring corruption, planted drugs and weapons, and a seemingly irreversible firesale of assets.
The story begins in May 2008, when police stopped the car of Nikolai Motsnyi, the then-general director of OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya.” Acting on an anonymous tip, a cursory search of Motsnyi’s car turned up a pistol loaded with military ammunition. Though local authorities opened a criminal case against Motsnyi with uncharacteristic speed, the case was eventually dismissed. Immediately following the dismissal of gun charges against Motsnyi, local drug control officers carried out a raid of OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya” and found 9 grams of heroin in Motsnyi’s office. To substantiate the charges, authorities produced a drug addict named Smirnov who alleged that he had sold 18 grams of heroin to Motsnyi. Although a criminal case was again opened against OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya’s” general director, charges were dropped once more. According to Bezverkhova, all this was designed to put psychological pressure on Motsnyi and the company’s legitimate leadership, prior to attempts to take over the firm.
In July 2008, company official R.A. Romanov used the support of key shareholders to orchestrate Motsnyi’s ouster at an extra-ordinary shareholders meeting. Shareholders were swayed, apparently, by input from local FSB official Pavel Ryabov, who gave the impression that important state officials supported Romanov’s candidacy for the general directorship. Unfortunately for OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya” and local consumers, Romanov was actually a frontman for an organized crime group seeking a quick profit.
Although OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya’s” legitimate owners went to court to fight the illegal takeover, Romanov and his associates managed to sell off most of the company’s assets by September 2008. Based on a prior agreement with Yuri Sulyan, a regional property administration agency official, Romanov worked to liquidate the property of another company under his control, ZAO “Agrofirma Engleskaya-2.” OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya’s” head accountant Nina Shigaeva facilitated this part of the raid. To cap everything off, Romanov personally stole 4 million rubles (about $120,000 at today’s exchange rates) from the company safe.
During his tenure as general director, Romanov oversaw the sale of company assets of $1.5 billion for a paltry $33.5 million. The near destruction of OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya” not only affected shareholder investments, but also led to a significant rise in local fruit and vegetable prices.
Although OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya’s” legitimate owners managed to get the shareholder decision to enthrone Romanov as the company’s general director overturned in a local commercial affairs court, the company has absorbed staggering losses. Some solace for shareholders and local consumers may be found in the recent conviction and imprisonment of Romanov, Sulyan, Ryabov, and Shigaeva. However, the total fines assessed to the four corporate raiders amounts to a little more than $15,000, which seems unfair compared to the economic havoc caused by their actions.
The impact of corporate raiding
While the Russian legal system appears to have achieved a desired result in the convictions and imprisonment of some of the individuals involved in the corporate raiding attack on OAO “Agrofirma Engel’skaya,” it is unclear that this outcome will deter additional corporate raiding. As Bezverkhova notes, an increasing number of corporate raiding attacks only serves to weaken the development of the Russian economy and the legitimacy of the country’s judicial system. With corruption growing unencumbered in Russia, corporate raiding is likely to continue unabated in the near future.
Saratov Center Press Survey of Regional Media and Websites, May 2012
Posted: June 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
English Summary by Justin Cade
Ten criminal charges filed against chief Saratov city administrator
Alexei Prokopenko, the head of municipal development for the city of Saratov, has been charged on ten counts of failing to enforce the municipal court’s ruling on providing apartments to residents of old and unfit buildings. An investigation revealed that in March of last year, Sheldom, a privately-owned corporation, transferred 29 well-furnished residential apartments in multi-story buildings to city ownership for inclusion in the municipal residential fund. In August, all of the apartments were classified as offices. Mr. Propenko, despite being advised as to the criminal nature of ignoring the court’s stance on providing housing to those most in need, ordered that 28 of the 29 apartments be provided to persons not in desperate need of housing. The regional prosecutor’s office is currently in charge of the investigation.
The fight against corruption
On May 28th, regional vice governor D.V. Fadeev examined the question of the region’s executive branch’s work in fighting corruption according to the national plan. Progress has been made and departmental proposals have been put in place to further the branch’s fight against corruption by the following measures: limitations and bans on government employees receiving gifts; the development within the executive branch of a negative attitude toward giving gifts to government employees based on their positions or in connection to their duties; the prohibition of behavior among government employees that might be perceived as a request for a bribe, or an agreement to accept one, by those around them; the exposure/recognition of instances in which arise conflicts of interest if one side is that of a government employee and the taking of measures allowed by the legislature on the prevention and regulation of conflicts of interest; and others.
With this list of introduced changes, the plans of the region’s executive branch reflect all fundamental concepts of preventative work in the sphere of the fight against corruption and correspond to the demands of federal and regional normative anti-corruption laws. Strict and meticulous enforcement of the specified terms and measures stipulated by national plans will be the legislature’s primary task in the realization of these laws.
In 2012, Saratov law enforcement has detected 447 acts of corruption so far, among them are 80 cases of bribery.
On May 23rd, in broad daylight, a representative of the noncommercial horticultural cooperative “Mashinostroitel’” illegally received cash in the sum of 3,500 rubles from a female citizen in exchange for a fictitious form testifying that she supposedly was a member of the cooperative’s union when in reality the woman is not a member of any union at all. After receiving the cash, the man was held at the scene by Saratov law enforcement. When interrogated as a suspect, the representative pled guilty and also willingly testified to four more counts of criminal activity.
In Saratov, a general practitioner at City Clinic 20 confessed receiving a bribe of 1,500 rubles from a patient for providing him with a letter stating that he was unfit for work. The general practitioner faces a fine of 37,500 rubles and a ban from public service for one year.
The city of Balashov’s general prosecutor has accused another general practitioner of accepting a cash bribe from a patient to issue a letter stating that the latter was unfit for work. The clinic employee confessed and will face a fine of 40,000 rubles.
A narcotics officer is being accused of receiving a bribe, as well. According to a witness, the policeman received a bribe of 250,000 rubles through extortion in exchange for dropping charges.
On May 14th, a resident of Saratov’s Kirov neighborhood was arrested by police for lacking required federal registration for an individual in possession of ferrous metal. The next day the citizen was summoned by a neighborhood police inspector, whom he offered a bribe of 500 rubles. The investigation into this criminal case is ongoing.
The chief of the Saratov region’s privatization and regulation of state property department has been accused of accepting a large bribe. The investigation is ongoing.
On May 14th, a criminal charge was filed against the director of the House of Culture for the city of Khvalynsk, A.N. Ushakov. According to evidence, on May 5th, Ushakov received a bribe of 500 rubles for actions in favor of the briber in renting the premises of the House of Culture. The investigation is ongoing.
On April 27th, an employee of the Volga district’s Federal Bailiff Service in Saratov attempted to solicit a bribe in the sum of 16,000 rubles from a debtor in exchange for services which are included in her job’s responsibilities. Investigators are now attempting to gather all evidence to use against the suspect.
The investigative department of Saratov’s Volga district filed a criminal lawsuit against a pimp who was arrested for soliciting 25-year-old prostitutes, also arrested, on May 15th. The next morning, the pimp, insisting that the prostitutes arrested were his friends, attempted to bribe the department chief with 5,000-rubles.
Police disarmed a band of five robbers in Saratov’s Lenin district. In the evenings, they tracked down their female victims in the shopping pavilion on Third Dachnaya Street in search of gold.
Drugs and drug trafficking
Police in both the town of Engels and Saratov’s Lenin district arrested 43-year-old men for injecting heroin on May 20th.
On May 16th, Engels police arrested a 36-year-old man for the use of mephedrone and a 34-year-old man for having a bottle of hash oil at the door of his apartment.
On the same day in Ershov, a 33-year-old man was arrested for carrying a bottle of hash oil.
Police arrested a 22-year-old Engels resident for possession of a large amount of a powerful synthetic narcotic substance.
A few residents of the Bezarnokarabulasksky district decided to grow marijuana in the attic of a 34-year-old man; each bush was planted in a separate special pot. Saratov narcotics police were successful in liquidating the “greenhouse” when a harvest of 1.5 kilos of the drug was collected.
Young Saratov couple released from slavery in Dagestan
A married couple from Saratov spent close to two years in slavery in the Dagestani village of Shakhmal and was recently liberated by employees affiliated with Russia’s Ministry of the Interior. According to the investigation, the young couple went to Dagestan to work, although law enforcement is not clarifying why exactly they went there.
In the train, their passports ended up in the hands of the conductor and, after their arrival in Makhachkala, on the platform, in the hands of a man who claimed to be an employer. At first the couple worked in construction. A few months passed and the construction site manager did not pay them anything. The couple naturally asked about this and the manager replied with threats, saying that if they try to escape, he will find them and sell them into slavery.
In addition to their work in construction, the couple had to feed livestock. Their diet was composed of macaroni and they slept in a barn.
After almost two years, the husband was able to get in touch with his mother. He told her that he and his wife were being illegally held in Dagestan and described their approximate location. His mother went to the police immediately and they passed materials related to the case along to their North Caucasian colleagues, who upon receiving the information, immediately set out for the suggested address.
Law enforcement officials were successful in finding the young couple and sending them home, liberating them from slavery.
(Original Russian version is available upon request)
The Politics of Law Enforcement in Russia’s Far East
Posted: May 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
Starting with the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Soviet law enforcement was designed to serve as a centrally controlled apparatus sensitive to the wishes of the Communist Party. As Shelley (1996) indicates, some postcommunist states acutely examined past policing techniques and supported reforms aimed at ensuring that police practices were squarely in line with the requirements of a democratic society. However, Russia has been less successful in this regard. Indeed, reformers have been more successful in removing symbols of state coercion such as the statue of Feliks Dzherinsky (the founder of the Soviet security police) before KGB headquarters in Moscow than in restructuring law enforcement bodies.
This post examines the path dependence of Russia’s law enforcement agencies, namely the continuing politicization, severe trust issues, and personnel deficits that have undermined the country’s crime fighting strength.
The political business cycle and law enforcement
Following then-President Vladimir Putin’s 2007 declaration of war against corruption in Russia’s Far East, regional politicians have worked at varying levels of intention and success to address this endemic problem. In particular, analysts have noticed an interesting pattern regarding anti-corruption or decriminalization programs. According to Vitaly Nomokonov, head of the Center for the Study of Organized Crime in Vladivostok, interest in combating crime and corruption among local politicians tends to pick up prior to elections. Just as enterprising politicians may seek manipulation of economic conditions, Nomokonov sees political will to address crime and corruption appearing largely at opportune times in the political business cycle.
Former Vladivostok city prosecutor and judiciary official Yuri Mel’nikov believes that decriminalization will only take place if a new paradigm for the relationship between law enforcement and politicians is developed. Mel’nikov suggests that there exists a huge deficit of trust between law enforcement and politicians. One of the main reasons for this deficit of trust is that individuals with criminal backgrounds or with current, unambiguous ties to known organized crime figures are routinely appointed to sensitive state positions or are selected to run in tightly controlled and predictable elections.
In Vladivostok, it is much more difficult to commit crimes anonymously, as opposed to Moscow, for example. With social circles as small as they are Vladivostok, facts concerning corruption in federal, regional, and municipal state structures may reach law enforcement personnel through acquaintances, relatives, fellow officers, schoolmates, and university classmates. When these crimes, because of varying circumstances, go unpunished, the gulf of distrust between law enforcement and politicians increases greatly. As long as severe trust issues exist between law enforcement and politicians, the overall crime situation in the Far East is unlikely to improve.
A falling crime rate?
In 2010, 50,900 crimes were committeed in the Far East Federal District, which represents a 10 % decline from 2009. The number of cases clеаred by law enforcement personnel fell from 49% in 2009 to 46.5% in 2010. In 2011, the number of registered crimes in the Far East Federal District fell to 45,600, or 5,000 crimes fewer than in 2010. The number of cases cleared by law enforcement fell to 44.9%.
In other words, the crime rate has fallen in the past few years, while the number of cases cleared has also fallen. However, variation in the Far East Federal District crime rate may deserve closer scrutiny. According to Mel’nikov, the reduction in the crime rate is due in a large part to the demographic crisis facing Russia. It is thought that as Russia’s population continues to age, the number of criminals, who are usually younger members of society, are fewer. Hence, the lower crime rate. In effect, Mel’nikov is arguing that the reduction in crime rate is less about decreasing criminalization, but more about fewer criminals on the street.
What is to be done?
For Mel’nikov, a major reason for paralyzing weakness in law enforcement agencies is that many middle and lower-ranking personnel are poorly qualified for their jobs. Why, one might ask, is this not the case for FSB personnel? Arguably, this is because there is a different approach to service in the FSB, and a different level of professionalism. In Mel’nikov’s view, as such, the biggest challenge for law enforcement agencies is hiring personnel who are not merely seeking employment, but who are dedicated to the pursuit of justice.
There are a few crucial steps that should be taken to improve this situation. More than anything, according Mel’nikov, what is needed is procedural transparency and the establishment of the rule of law to ensure that crimes committed will actually be punished. Administrative openness should be accompanied by the inclusion of civil society, the business community, and other stakeholders in decision-making about decriminalization.
Final thoughts: politics and crime
Law enforcement in the Russian Federation continues to bear the legacy of the highly politicized Soviet police system. While addressing the distrust between law enforcement and politicians appears to be a key aspect of decriminalization programs, political support for anti-crime and anti-corruption programs may be closely related to the political business cycle. Given the unfortunately extensive overlap between politics and crime in Russia, it seems as though the road to repairing trust between law enforcement and politicians will be a long one.
Organized Crime in Western Siberia (Part 3)
Posted: April 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:53 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
Parts 1 and 2 of this series provided a snapshot of organized crime in western Siberia by describing the most significant regional criminal group, the Bratsk criminal society, and depicting the constellation of ethnic criminal groups active in western Siberia, including Chinese, Central Asian, Ingush, and Chechen formations. It follows that the strength of regional organized crime has presented serious challenges to law enforcement. Echoing conclusions from Irkutsk-based criminologist Anna Repetskaya, this blog post outlines some of the problems that the Russian state faces in combatting organized crime. This post also suggests two criminological approaches for addressing organized crime and describes a few legislative and policy changes that would improve anti-organized crime efforts in Russia.
Taking into account local conditions
The Russian state has long concerned itself with how to effectively combat organized crime. Specifically, authorities have sought to identify the best methods and tactics for investigating crimes commited by organized criminal groups as well to assess the societal conditions and individual motivations that facilitate these crimes. Officials have also worked to improve methods of preventing and detecting criminal acts as well as to enhance the effectiveness of operative-investigative cadres.
However, the centralizing impulse of the Russian federal state has limited its ability to combat organized crime. Repetskaya argues that the fight against organized crime in Russia’s regions depends significantly on regional policies, which are largely derived from the center and thus ignore local specificities. By taking into account local and regional conditions, policymakers can improve the effectiveness of anti-organized crime measures.
Criminological approaches: uncoupling and re-orientation
For Repetskaya, Russia’s fight against organized crime would benefit from a conceptual shift away from a purely criminal/legal approach to one that more prominently features aspects of criminology. Put otherwise, the goal of combating organized crime should not be the complete liquidation of organized crime, but the implementation of maximum social control over this problem.
In order to increase social control over crime, Repetskaya suggests two possible strategies: uncoupling and re-orientation. Uncoupling refers to the dissolution of organized crime groups and the liquidation of opportunities for direct contact among the group’s members. On one hand, uncoupling can be complete: all or a majority of an organized crime group’s members are denied opportunities for direct contact. Alternatively, uncoupling can be partial, such as when the isolation of the group’s leaders and most active participants takes place (through jail terms or other methods).
Although re-orientation is a relatively rare occurence, it remains a useful strategy for extending social control over organized crime. In essence, re-orientation acknowledges the continued existence of the organized group as a social formation, but facilitates the movement of the group away from its original, negative social purpose. As such, re-orientation may be full or partial. In certain cases, it may be possible to re-orient particular factions of an organized crime group, but not the group in its entireity.
Uncoupling or re-orientation of organized crime groups provide only short-term effects, however. These measures should not merely facilitate the removal of organized crime groups from state databases, but need to be aimed at the actual elimination of criminal formations. Practice shows that after uncoupling or re-orientation efforts take place, recalcitrant or excluded organized crime group members ultimately join other criminal groups. Moreover, new groups rise in place of uncoupled or re-oriented ones and these new groups are quick to apply new methods and violence in the service of accumulating ill-gotten wealth.
Legal and policy changes
The fight against organized crime should not be waged only by identifying and punishing the guilty. Instead, attention must be paid proactive measures of prevention, which implies the revision of key laws and policies.
Broadly, changes should be focused on addressing economic and financial crimes, which are particularly problematic across Russia, as well as on laws and policies that take into account regional conditions. For example, natural resources are a major focus of organized crime activities in western Siberia, which means that legislation should be adopted to address these region-specific problems. In addition, national and regional legislation should be revised to include rules regulating the seizure of financial and physical property belonging to proven representatives of organized crime. It is thought that leaders and members of organized crime groups are less fearful of criminal prosecution and jail than they are of the state confiscating criminal property. By avoiding punitive sanctions in the form of property confiscations, the state essentially preserves the economic foundations of criminal groups. This enables criminal groups to effectively resist the state’s anti-crime efforts inside and outside of jail.
Finally, additional resources should provided to law enforcement agencies. The lack of funding and logistical support for law enforcement severely curtails operational capacity. Anti-organized crime units, in particular, have been seriously underfunded. Additionally, the absence of trained investigators in many regional police departments has led to ineffective investigations and a dearth of prosections.
While the Russian government remains aware of the problems posed by organized crime, ineffective strategies, resource deficits, and weak legislation continue to present roadblocks. This post has suggested that consideration of local and regional specificities, inclusion of criminological approaches such as uncoupling and re-orientation, and adjustment of legislation and policy, particularly with respect to criminal finances, will improve the Russian government’s efforts to combat organized crime.
Rethinking Organized Crime and Corruption
Posted: April 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Alexandre Kukhianidze
Re-thinking global, national and local security systems has been of vital importance since the end of Cold War. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact and the subsequent end of the Cold War alleviated fears of a third world war involving nuclear weapons. However, the rapid advance of globalization, post-Soviet turmoil, and political radicalism has increased new, non-traditional security threats all over the world: transnational organized crime, money laundering, smuggling in weapons and drugs, human trafficking, global terrorism, and threats of nuclear proliferation. Corruption is like a cancer, supporting these criminal activities and trying to penetrate into all sectors of public life. If a country is weak then corruption gives rise to metastasis and threatens both national and international security. All this is changing our understandings of security systems on the global, national, and local levels. In effect, these factors necessitate the creation of a whole new school of thought. In the United States, most of these new threats have brought about rapid research, development and the formation of new teaching disciplines, which are united under the umbrella of Homeland Security Studies. Many think tanks in the world have shifted focus from traditional military to non-traditional civil security studies, introducing new training program for their audiences. This process is only in its early stages, and there is high demand for training, analysis and policy recommendations on security for local, national and international communities.
The Caucasus map (http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/the-caucasus-ecoregion-topographic-map)
The Caucasus region, which includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation, is one of the most complicated regions in the world, with local, separatist, nationalist, and global interests cross cutting different religious confessions, ethnicities, and cultures. Strategic transportation routes cross each other, ethno-territorial conflicts remain unresolved, and some national borders in the region are contested or only partially demarcated and delineated. Energy production, transport and security are very important in the Caucasusregion. Global and regional powers, international organizations and corporations compete for gas, oil, and transportation corridors, while corrupt local clans, organized crime groups, and terrorist networks try to benefit from political instability in the region, fostering religious fundamentalism and ethnic mistrust as means of manipulation. Russia, which suffers from extensive corruption, is a nuclear power producing nuclear materials and technologies, while Iranposes a potential nuclear threat to the international community – both are increasingly authoritarian and both have interests in the Caucasus. Cases of smuggling in weapons grade nuclear materials from Russiavia the Caucasus have been reported repeatedly since the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the South Caucasus is one of the main transportation routes for Afghan heroin to Western Europe and Russia. Russia’s war in Chechnyatransformed the North Caucasusinto a war zone with rampant corruption, organized crime, and religious radicalism. Ethnic conflict from there has spilled into Russiaperiodically resulting in ethnic clashes between Russian ultranationalists and North Caucasians in Moscow, Rostov-on-Don, Saratovand other Russian cities during 2010 and 2011. Since the Russian invasion of Georgiain August 2008, relations between the two countries remain very tense. Corruption is also rampant in Armeniaand Azerbaijan, where their governments limit democratic freedoms and repeatedly declare that they are still at war because of Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkeykeeps its border closed with Armeniabecause of Armenia’s continued occupation of Azeri territory. Both Turkeyand Iranclaim that they are Caucasian states too – Turkey’s northeastern regions are former territories of Georgiaand Armenia, and much of the ethnic Azeri population lives in northern Iran. Russiais intensively developing strategic plans for military operations in the South Caucasus in case of hostilities between Iranand Israeland the USA, which is seen in Georgiaas a pretext for a new military invasion. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, a strategic military training exercise ‘Caucasus 2012’ will take place in September 2012 and will cover territories in Russia, Armenia, and Georgia’s occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russian military officials connect this training with potential conflicts connected with Iranin the Caspian and South Caucasusregions (See: Sergey Konovalov. (January 16, 2012). Genshtab razrabativaet plan masshtabnikh strategicheskikh uchenii, iskhodia iz vozmozhnoi ataki Izrailia i Soedinennykh Shtatov po Iranu. Available from:http://www.ng.ru/politics/2012-01-16/3_kartblansh.html (accessed on January 17, 2012). For Russia, a war with Iran could be a good opportunity to switch the attention of the local electorate from domestic political tensions to the South Caucasus and restore military control of the whole Caucasus-Caspian region.
Therefore, a combination of regional and global security threats have made the Caucasus an extremely divided, precarious, and insecure region for the local population and for the international community as well. The region today is a serious trouble spot for corruption, transnational crime, violence, international terrorism, smuggling in nuclear materials, and armed conflict. It is a real threat that Russian strategic plans could implode the Caucasus, undermine the West’s all Caspian energy projects, and bring heightened corruption and organized crime back to Georgia.
Among countries of the Caucasus, Georgia has shown great success in combating organized crime and administrative corruption which in the1990s were rampant and threatened the national security of the country. After the ‘Rose Revolution’ in November 2003, the administration of President Mikheil Saakashvili implemented radical anti-corruption reforms of the law enforcement and governmental structures. The Georgian Mafia, which was the most powerful and influential OC group in the former Soviet Union, was efficiently cracked down and collapsed, their bosses (the thieves-in-law) have been imprisoned or escaped from the country and their property confiscated. Jan Van Dijk, Professor of Victimology and Human Security at Tilburg University, the Netherlands, concluded that by 2011 “Georgia had transformed itself from a high crime into a low crime country in just a few years. Georgia now emerges as one of the safest places in Europe. Tbilisi has become one of the safest capitals in the Western world, comparable to Lisbon or Vienna.” (See: Jan Van Dijk. (2011). International trends in crime: the remarkable case of Georgia. Available from: http://justice.gov.ge/index.php?lang_id=ENG&sec_id=681(accessed on January 20, 2012).
According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, in 2003 Georgia was ranked 124th among 133 countries while in 2010 – 68th among 178 countries. In 2010 it was next after Italy (67) and ahead of Romania (69), Bulgaria (73) and Greece (78) – European Union member states. For comparison with Caucasian states, in 2010 Armenia was ranked 123, Azerbaijan – 134, and Russia – 154. Today Georgia is the only island in the Caucasus with a very low level of organized crime and comparatively low level of corruption.
Administrative corruption is very low inGeorgia, thanks to reforms which have been implemented in law enforcement and governmental structures. Reform started through massive arrests of the most corrupt government officials and through newly adopted legislative amendments, plea bargaining and confiscation of property – hundreds of millions of US dollars were returned to the State budget. The methods used were from the arsenal of methods of fighting the Mafia and Cosa Nostra inItaly andUSA. The philosophy of this approach is that it is better to leave organized crime bosses and corrupt officials without financial and other economic resources to conduct their illegal activities rather than have them run their crime groups from prisons having all their resources at their disposal. The confiscated financial resources and assets have been used for implementation of reforms and other most urgent socio-economic needs.
Arrests of corrupt government officials continued on the lower level too, including law enforcement officials. As a result, the level of corruption went down as it became a very risky business. But arrests only of corrupt officials are not the whole solution. Combating corruption is sustainable only through implementation of the other components of reforms – creation of new institutions and systems of relations, in which human beings are motivated to honestly carry out their functions, and here Georgiahas already accumulated positive experience. For example, the totally corrupt old system of admissions exams to Georgian universities was replaced by a modern and fair system of admission tests in July 2005, and thousands of young people now enter universities without any need for them or their parents to pay bribes. Today Georgiahas one of most advanced systems of admissions in Europe.
Anti-corruption reform of law enforcement structures was another central aspect of the optimization of state government management. It touched all law enforcement agencies: Public Prosecutor’s Office, Police, Courts, Penitentiary system, Border Police, and Financial Police. Reform inspired a new legislative base, structural reorganization, human resources, and logistics.
The traffic police was the most corrupt structure in the police system of Georgia. In the summer of 2004, it was closed and up to 2700 traffic police officers were dismissed. Instead a Western- type patrol police was created and new police officers selected on a competitive basis, mostly from among young people with a high percentage of women and salaries up to ten times higher. Training of new policemen was carried out in the Police Academy with the participation of US and EU experts and policemen. Special attention was paid to logistics, repairing of police stations, new police vehicles, installation of a modern communication system, new police uniforms, and weapons. If traffic police were responsible only for automobile traffic, then the patrol police is responsible now for auto traffic, crime in the streets, neighborhood policing, and assistance to citizens in cases of emergency. All these steps, in combination with strict control by internal police inspection procedure, have led to extremely positive results. According to polls conducted by the International Republican Institute (USA) in 2011, the three most trusted institutions are the church (93 percent), the army (89 percent), and the police (87 percent). (See: IRI Releases Expanded Nationwide Survey of Georgian Public Opinion. (January 5, 2012). Available from: http://www.iri.org/news-events-press-center/news/iri-releases-expanded-nati onwide-survey-georgian-public-opinion. Accessed on January 27, 2012). For comparison, prior to the 2004 reforms, national voter survey results showed only 49% in favour of the Georgian police. (See: Alexander Kupatadze. (April 26, 2011). Similar Events, Different Outcomes: Accounting for Diverging Corruption Patterns in Post-Revolution Georgia and Ukraine. Caucasus Analytical Digest. No 26, p. 6.)
Despite this impressive success fighting corruption on a lower level, political corruption still flourishes in Georgia. Leaders of political opposition and civil society organizations frequently make statements about the success only in combating administrative corruption at the low and middle levels, while the highest level remains untouched.
Western political systems are based on the fundamental principle – independence of three branches of political power which are able to control each other through a system of checks and balances. Soon after the 2003 ‘Rose Revolution’ and contrary to this fundamental principle, the parliament of Georgia adopted constitutional amendments which essentially strengthened presidential power at the expense of the legislative and the judicial branches. This came about due to the high level of legitimacy and standing of the newly elected authorities in conditions of the continuing post-revolutionary euphoria. The main justification at that time was the need for stronger executive power for rapid implementation of radical reforms which always are painful for a part of the population. As a result, Georgia got strong presidential and weak legislative and judiciary powers. The concentration of power in the hands of executive authorities became a strong factor preventing investigations by law enforcement authorities of possible illegal activities of the ruling team. In such a situation, police investigators do not open criminal cases against top government officials, and judges in courts do not make decisions against them. Currently, there are no cases of national law enforcement investigations on political corruption in Georgia and, therefore, there is no direct legal evidence of such corruption. Accusations of involvement in ‘political corruption’ which come from the political opposition or the government – remain largely political tools in their struggle for power. There are two proven cases of serious political corruption in Georgia but both of them are not a result of Georgian police investigations and court decisions: the detainment of Irakli Okruashvili, the former Minister of Defense of Georgia, in 2007; and the assassination of Girgvliani, a young employee of one of the Georgian banks in 2005 by high ranking police officers. The Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case against Okruashvili only after a sharp conflict in the ruling team became known to the public. But before that, law enforcement structures (police, prosecutor’s offices, and courts) demonstrated negligence and inability to investigate Okruashvili’s involvement in corruption, smuggling, money laundering, and other serious crimes – despite repeated accusations coming from civil society organizations and the Georgian press. In the second case, on January 27, 2005 four police officers from the Department of Constitutional Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia tortured and then killed Sandro Girgvliani after he had an argument with his girlfriend, who was sitting in one of Tbilisi’s elite bars with the Interior Minister’s wife and several high ranking police officials. Only after the crime was publicized, were the culprits detained and sentenced to 7-8 years of imprisonment. In 2009, they were released and pardoned by President Saakashvili. The European Court of Human Rights recognized that during the investigation of Girgvliani’s case, evidence was falsified. It found violations of Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights (the right to life) and Article 38 (obligation of the state to cooperate with the courts in establishing the truth), and obliged the government to pay within three months 50,000 euros compensation to his family.
Georgia also did not improve its performance indicators after the Rose Revolution and remains a partly free country according to Freedom House’s rating, which together with the Russian factor is a key reason why it is still outside of NATO and European Union.
Political corruption can exist without the presence of professional organized crime, if high ranking officials have enough financial, military, and law enforcement resources at their disposal to eliminate any competitive professional criminal structure and establish political control in a country. In countries with weak democratic institutions, especially judiciary, and with territorial disputes such ruling teams can try to control the media and weaken political opposition under the pretext of preventing enemy’s ideological diversions and information wars, and justify increasing military expenses. Using administrative resources – police, prosecutor’s offices and courts, national banks, government-controlled media, and tax inspection to control and extort money from businesses and as tools for persecution of political opponents to maintain the ruling team in power – is abuse of political power and a form of political corruption.
As soon as the Georgian tycoon, Bidzina Ivanishvili – a person who sponsored most local charity projects in Georgia, declared in the beginning of October 2011 that he is in opposition to the ruling political regime and intends to participate in the forthcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, he and his wife were immediately deprived of Georgian citizenship upon grounds they held both Russian and French citizenships. After that, on October 18, 2011, Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank’s cash-in-transit vehicle with six employees was detained by police while it was transporting USD 2 million and EUR 1 million in cash from the Bank of Georgia’s headquarters in Tbilisi. The Interior Ministry said that criminal charges were brought in connection with laundering a very large amount of money but it did not provide details. This action was widely publicised by the government-controlled media. The Director-General of Cartu Bank, Nodar Javakhishvili, called it an act of vandalism but there was no reaction from the National Bank of Georgia. Instead, the latter decided to inspect the Cartu Bank. Later, the detained people, vehicle and confiscated money were returned to the Cartu Bank and the investigation stopped which was seen by the Georgian public as an attempt to intimidate political opponents. But the government-controlled TV, radio and print media have never stopped commenting on the origin of Ivanishvili’s more than five billions US dollars from Russia and his dependence on the hostile Putin’s regime, things which this media never did when Ivanishvili was on the side of the Government of Georgia and sponsored projects in the country. The Government of Georgia also has its arguments trying to convince the local public that it is one thing when Russian money is used for repairing museums, libraries, universities, and churches – and a completely different thing when it is used to buy access to political power in Georgia which only three years ago was at war with Russia, and with repeated attempts to support the Georgian political opposition and change Saakashvili’s regime. All this shows how complicated it is, on the one hand, to resist Russian destructive political pressure and, on the other hand, combat political corruption in Georgia.
A systematic and realistic study of theory and practice of Georgia’s experience (including its drawbacks) would be helpful for other countries where corruption and organized crime flourish.
Current interest in Georgian reforms is high among neighboring countries. In 2011, governmental, law enforcement, and non-governmental delegations have visitedGeorgia to learn the ‘secrets’ ofGeorgia’s success. Government delegations fromUkraine,Kyrgyzstan,Armenia,Moldova, andEgypt which visitedGeorgia in 2011, have been especially interested in the police reform. In July 2011, the Director of the TraCCC Caucasus Office delivered lectures on anti-corruption and police reforms in Georgia to a delegation of 35 persons which consisted of members of parliaments, editors of newspapers, young academics, journalists, and leaders of key NGOs from the North Caucasian republics (Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Ingushetia) of the Russian Federation. What is needed, however, inGeorgia is an independent body which is responsible for the systematic analysis of reform results and training in anti-corruption, anti-OC and police reforms.
Organized crime in western Siberia (Part 2)
Posted: March 22, 2012 at 3:12 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
As previously noted in Part 1 of this series, the Bratsk criminal society has been identified as the premiere criminal authority in western Siberia, in light of its control of the so-called Siberian “obshchak” or common criminal “fund.” Upon closer inspection, however, the fabric of organized crime in western Siberia becomes increasingly complex. In addition to the ethnic Russian dominated-Bratsk criminal society, research by criminologist Anna Repetskaya identifies ethnic Chinese, Tajik, Uzbek, Roma, Ingush, Chechen, Georgian, Azeri, and Armenian groups as being active in the region. A majority of these groups are known to contribute funds to the Siberian obshchak, but some have fallen under the influence of powerful Ingush and Chechen groups in the region. This entry will focus specifically on the activities of ethnic Chinese, Tajik, other Central Asian, as well as Chechen and Ingush groups.
Chinese Organized Crime: Keeping it in the Family
Extensive Chinese migration to western Siberia and the Russian Far East has been accompanied by an influx of organized crime groups. By and large, these groups have engaged in blackmail and extortion of Chinese traders and businessmen. Russian entrepreneurs in the timber exports sector, one of the most criminalized foreign trade sectors in western Siberia, have also been subject to the machinations of Chinese organized crime groups, who extort an estimated 10-15% of the export value of timber products. In addition, Chinese organized crime groups negatively impact the regional economy through illegal mining of precious metals. Due to the fact that Chinese organized crime in western Siberia lacks a single leader, some organized crime profits flow to the Bratsk criminal society-controlled Siberian obshchak, while other funds go to Ingush criminal groups, which are the Bratsk criminal society’s major rivals.
The Tajik Connection
Tajik organized crime groups, according to Dr. Repetskaya, present a significant threat to law and order in western Siberia, particularly due to their heavy involvement in drug trafficking. Tajik groups have a presence in every population center in the region, usually in groups of 5-15 individuals. Tajik organized crime groups are by and large under the control of Ingush and Chechen groups as well as the Bratsk criminal society.
While Tajiks usually serve as narcotics couriers, ethnic Uzbeks have reportedly been increasingly involved in this aspect of the supply chain. Drugs are transported by rail, air, and truck (usually in shipments of onions) in large amounts before being distributed in smaller amounts to different ethnic organized crime groups. Besides controlling the supply of drugs from Tajikistan to Russia, Tajik organized crime groups engage in extortion of Tajik traders throughout the region. Because roughly 80% of Tajiks in the region are living in Russia illegally, such crimes are drastically underreported. Unsurprisingly, there is also evidence that Tajik organized crime groups are involved in illegal migration schemes to and from Central Asia.
Uzbek and Kyrgyz Presence
In 2007, Tajik and Uzbek migrants were banned from selling goods in local markets, which was their main legal source of income. Forced to turn to the black market, a number of Uzbeks have fallen under the control of Tajik criminal organizations. As such, there have more reported instances of Uzbeks engaging in extortion and kidnapping of their compatriots.
While the number of Kyrgyz nationals in the region has steadily increased in recent years, their influence has been minimal. Dr. Repetskaya predicts that it is only a matter of time before ethnic Kyrgyz make their mark on the regional criminal world.
The North Caucasus in western Siberia: Ingush and Chechen Criminal Structures
Besides the Bratsk criminal society, the largest and most powerful criminal groups in western Siberia are composed of ethnic Ingush and Chechens. Using kinship networks stretching across major Russian cities, such as Moscow, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, and Vladivostok, Ingush and Chechen groups are engaged in a wide range of criminal activities. Ingush organized crime groups, in particular, are known to be involved in the illegal drugs and weapons markets, as well as theft of petroleum products and document falsification. It has also been reported that Ingush groups specialize in stealing cars from Russia, which are transported to Kazakhstan in exchange for heroin to be transported back to Russia. The biggest source of profit for many regional Chechen criminal groups has been casinos, which ultimately serve as money laundering apparatuses for proceeds from the drug trade. Both Chechen and Ingush groups are involved in the illegal trade of gold and other precious metals and have been know to hide their illegal activities behind officially registered cultural centers and organizations.
Final Thoughts: Bratsk Criminal Society vs. the Ingush and Chechens?
The biggest Ingush organized crime group, Clan K, is based in Irkutsk. Clan K can be divided into several small groups, which are involved in the extortion of Tajik migrants, the organization of illegal Tajik migration, as well as contract killings among other things. In recent years, this group has only grown in strength, constituting a serious threat to the regional supremacy of the Bratsk criminal society. Ingush and Chechen criminal authorities have attempted to unite Clan K with the numerous Chechen criminal groups in the region in order to create a more powerful criminal organization, but have yet to succeed. Some regional criminal leaders from the North Caucasus maintain that the Irkutsk oblast is in need of its own “thief-in-law” to effectively consolidate control. This has yet to occur, perhaps in part due to opposition from the Bratsk criminal society.
Regional law enforcement is aware of several open conflicts between Ingush groups and the Bratsk criminal society, involving the drug trade and in one instance, the control of a meat packing plant. If the unification of Chechen and Ingush groups were to take place, tensions between them and the Bratsk criminal society may very well turn into open war.
WHY CORRUPTION INFECTS REVOLUTIONARIES: THE CASE OF MAOISTS IN NEPAL
Posted: March 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Nazia Hussain, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
The Maoists in Nepal began as a rag tag party of revolutionaries in February 1996. They had almost no weapons, a tiny organizational base and a strategy that was not new. Inspired by teachings of Marxism-Leninism- Maoism, the Maoists aimed to establish ‘new people’s democracy’.
The concept of ‘new people’s democracy’ was not exclusive to the Maoists. In the early 1990s, all of Nepal’s communist factions shared the same aspiration, but disagreed on how to reach this goal. While the moderate Communist Party of Nepal advocated the use of multiparty people’s democracy, the Maoists believed that parliamentary democracy was another name for free competition among unequals that turned out in favor of powerful actors. Thus, the Maoists argued that without redistribution of property, there was no hope for change in make up of political institutions. The Maoists also presented nationalistic demands that aimed to curtail the influence of India in Nepal, but such demands had been raised repeatedly across the political spectrum.
Yet, in less than ten years, the Maoists achieved such success as a revolutionary movement that they could transform the social and political atmosphere of Nepal. By 2007, under the interim constitution, the Maoists had entered the political mainstream; they held about a quarter of Parliament’s 330 seats and formally joined the interim government. From being one of South Asia’s most potent rebel groups (second only to Sri Lanka’s Tamil tigers), to becoming powerful political players of the country, the Maoists of Nepal have come a long way.
So when corruption charges smear the ranks of Maoists, from buying a luxury mansion by the Maoist party chief, to accusations of using dozens of stolen SUVs and cars from thieves in neighboring India, giving protection by party leadership to criminals and corrupt elements, financial embezzlement to benefit Maoist militias, several questions arise about the ideological purity of such revolutionary movements.
First, could it be argued that the ideologically driven revolutionaries are no better than their less interesting contemporary but traditional politicians?
Second, could it be that the Nepali political system is so corrupt that it mires every one who dares to enter the muddy waters?
Third, is corruption a necessary collateral damage to be borne, as Nepal tries to deal with massive socio-political tectonic changes that the successful revolutionaries caused? The Maoist rebellion and the decade long civil war shook the political establishment enough so that no one political party was able to win a clear majority in post war elections. An inadvertent effect was creation of new social and political space for smaller groups, such as Nepal’s sexual minorities, who are working towards making Nepal the first Asian country to legalize gay marriage. Thus, the country is going through a transformative phase in time, as it grapples with various issues.
Whatever the answer, it is of interest for observers of the history of Nepali Maoists, who have laid down their weapons as part of the peace process, and are trying to enforce political change through peaceful means.
The Maoists began the ‘People’s War’ on February 13, 1996, with the aim of marching ahead on ‘the path of struggle towards establishing the people’s rule by wreaking the reactionary ruling system of state’. They were inspired by Mao Tse-Tung’s teachings as well as by Shining Path- the extremist left-wing guerilla movement of Peru. They wanted to establish a ‘new democracy’ that constituted a ‘historical revolt against feudalism, imperialism and so-called reformists’. At heart a political movement, they developed a military arm but subordinated it to political control. Though they developed links to other communist revolutionary groups, their campaign was not a part of any global terrorism movement.
Since the general elections of April 2008, Maoists entered the political mainstream, becoming a part of the interim government, and their leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal assumed the office of Prime Minister (as the chief of the party with the largest votes). However, disputes over reintegration of Maoist rebels into the army, forced Dahal to resign in 2009 over the demand of civilian control of the army.
These events reflect Nepal’s precarious internal situation where political instability has been the defining feature since the last two decades. Since the introduction of democracy in 1990, Nepal has seen 20 governments. The country is struggling with the tensions created as former rebels are reintegrating into society and politics, and as traditional politicians bicker over drafting of a new constitution.
On top of the political turmoil, corruption is pervasive. Nepal is the second most corrupt country in South Asia, according to the Corruption Perception Index 2011 released by Transparency International. Although corruption has plagued the country for years (for example, there have long been reports of police engaging in embezzlement and army involved in corruption regarding procurement of weapons and logistics.) Despite the massive political changes that swept Nepal in recent years due to the success of the Maoist revolutionaries, there is no discernible impact on the level of Nepali corruption.
In fact, the Maoist government itself came under focus due to financial discrepancies. For instance, misappropriations in development funds in some regions allegedly helped to pay for political rallies and upkeep of the paramilitary organization. Maoists were also accused of being involved in extortion and abductions, to finance their daily operations and intimidate political opponents. There were also reports of party leadership giving protection to corrupt and criminal elements.
As an International Crisis Group’s report noted,
‘The Maoists are undergoing a transformation, dramatically visible in divisive public spats between the leaders, as the party simultaneously acts as a revolutionary movement, a political party aggressively pushing the limits of democratic practice, and an expanding enterprise of financial interests and patronage. With the Maoists announcing, while in government, the creation of a new “volunteer” outfit, continuing extortion by the party’s various wings, monopoly over decision-making and intimidation in some districts, and ideological reiteration of “revolt”, they are a difficult partner to trust.’
It could be argued then that the ideologically driven revolutionaries are as susceptible to corruption as traditional Nepali politicians. However, it would be facile to not qualify this observation with the fact that Nepal is dealing with serious political problems of reintegration of former guerilla rebels, and drafting of a constitution. Although serious political problems themselves do not lead to corruption, they might leave less space to address ramifications of corrupt practices of available political leadership, when the immediate needs of the political system are survival and some form of stability. Lastly, a revolutionary political change at the top cannot guarantee elimination of the corruption culture that affects an entire political and related economic system.
Political change at the top must be accompanied by representative democracy, civil society development, free media and a governmental structure that includes checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. There must also be a change in the economy where patronage and acquisition of control of state assets frequently go hand-in-hand.
Organized crime in western Siberia (Part 1)
Posted: March 9, 2012 at 5:57 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
According to recent research by Anna Repetskaya, a widely published scholar and TraCCC grants competition winner based in Irkutsk, Russia, western Siberia is home to roughly 700-800 organized crime groups. Repetskaya indicates that a majority of these groups have a similar structure, reflective of Russia’s long tradition of organized crime.
At the head of each group sits the “polozhenetz” or “smotrayshchi,” which according to Russian prison slangmeans that such an individual has a mandate from his higher-ups in the prison world to lead the group. Generally speaking, active participants in the criminal group who are at or near the top of the hierarchy are called “avtoritety,” which translates as “authorities.” Next is the rank and file of the criminal group, called “torpedy” or “torpedoes.” Criminal groups also include “specialists,” to be understood as individuals contracted for specific operations requiring expertise beyond the capacity of the criminal group. “Specialists” are hired for financial, business, information technological, and combat operations, among others. The need to make organizational improvements has led to the addition of intelligence and counter-intelligence divisions as well as the establishment of idiosyncratic “headquarters” for planning of criminal operations.
Map of Irkutsk oblast’(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
Criminal Groups in Western Siberia
Repetskaya’s research demonstrates that the most active criminal group in western Siberia is the Bratsk criminal society, which controls the so-called “Siberian obshchak.” In general terms, “obshchak” refers to a repository of funds for the criminal world. Repetskaya indicates that there are likely four major criminal organizations in the Irkutsk oblast’ which participate in the obshchak. These four major groups are further divided into smaller groups based on the character of their criminal activities. According to sociological research collected by Repetskaya, criminal groups in western Siberia are largely made up of ethnic Russians. However, the region’s proximity to China, Central Asia, and Mongolia, has meant that ethnic Chinese, Tajik, and Uzbek groups are active. Roma, Ingush, Chechen, Georgian, Azeri, and Armenian groups have also made their presences known in the region. Historically, A majority of these groups, with the exception of Ingush and Chechen organizations, make financial “contributions” to the Bratsk criminal society-dominated “Siberian obshchak.”
As a rule, criminal groups in western Siberia are largely made up of individuals from the same ethnic group. The only mixed groups are made up of either Russians and Armenians or Russians and Georgians. Repetskaya suggests that this is due to the fact that Russians, Armenians, and Georgians all share the same religion, which contributes to common worldviews and ideology.
It is worth noting that criminal groups acting outside the control of the Bratsk criminal society do exist. However, these groups usually emerge only for a short period of time. Nevertheless, it has been observed that the number of these “unaffiliated” groups has grown in recent years. At the same time, the Bratsk criminal society has remained the most powerful criminal group in western Siberia and retains the ability to exert influence on economic and political life in the region.
The Bratsk criminal society
The base of operations for the Bratsk criminal society is the city of Bratsk, located in northern Irkutsk oblast.’ The group’s influence is not limited to western Siberia, as the group maintains contacts in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yakutsk, the Zabaikal krai, and the Republic of Buryatya. The group formed initially in the early 1990s and now includes more than 300 members. Western Siberia’s natural resources, including forests, petroleum, precious minerals, and wildlife continue to be major targets for regional organized crime. In addition to illegal logging, mining, and poaching operations, the Bratsk criminal society and its affiliates control legitimate companies in the local wood and paper sector, oil and gas sector, mining and ore processing industry as well as wine and alcohol production facilities.
The Bratsk criminal society is also significantly involved in prostitution and relatedly, human trafficking. In addition to overseeing the provision of women to clients, elements of the Bratsk criminal society kidnap and force young women, including minors, from far-flung areas of western Siberia to work as prostitutes. Once under criminal control, the women face rape or beatings if they try to resist or escape. Criminal penetration of law enforcement and corrupt dealings between organized crime and businesses present significant barriers for countering this serious problem.
“T,” an individual with “thief-in-law” status, leads the Bratsk criminal society. Thieves-in-law are the elite of the Russian criminal underworld and embody traditions and practices that can be traced back to early Soviet prison culture. More generally, thieves-in-law can be thought of as the “Godfathers” of the Russian criminal underworld.
At the moment, “T” permanently lives outside of the Irkutsk oblast,’ in Moscow or Spain, where he maintains property. “T” has wide-ranging connections throughout the criminal world in Russia and abroad, while maintaining control over the “Siberian obshchak” through his “smotrayshchi.” In addition to his legal business activities, “T” is involved in many traditional criminal activities, focusing particularly on economic crimes in an effort to establish himself as powerful businessman. Personally and through his subordinates, “T” has captured aluminum production, lumber, oil and gas, and cellulose production firms. “T” is also active in foreign currency schemes and other financial operations.
Given his “authority” within the criminal world, “T” acts an as arbiter of disputes among criminals in western Siberia and works to impose the norms and “understandings” of the criminal world upon relevant parties.
Although the Bratsk criminal society may be seen as a regional hegemon in the criminal underworld of western Siberia, the story gets more complicated upon closer inspection.
In my next blog post, I use Repetskaya’s excellent research to delve further into the fabric of organized crime in western Siberia, focusing specifically on the characteristics of different ethnic-based groups active in the region.
The Need for an Appropriate Corruption Measurement Tool for the U.S.
Posted: March 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Andrew Guth, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
On February 15, 2012 the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) posted an anti-corruption report titled Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption. Based on the annual reports to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section (which details the annual number of public corruption convictions), UIC’s report claims the “…Chicago metropolitan region has been the most corrupt in the country since 1976” (Simpson et al., 2012). Within a day, national and international news media including the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, USA Today, Reuters, and others labeled Chicago as the most corrupt city in America (Janssen & Spielman, 2012; Lee, 2012; Stern, 2012a, 2012b; Wall Street Journal, 2012; Winter, 2012). Apparently, nobody investigated the findings and unfortunately, the methods used simply do not add up.
This paper shows that 1) the very foundation of UIC’s methods are flawed thereby rendering the report useless, 2) even if one believes in the methods used by UIC, then both New Orleans and New York out rank Chicago in corruption, 3) the before mentioned statement made by UIC is inaccurate at best, and 4) several retractions and corrections should be made by numerous news media organizations worldwide. It concludes that there is a general lack of corruption measurement within the United States. And that, while Transparency International does good work in measuring corruption within a country as a whole and comparing countries’ corruption levels, there is no appropriate corruption measure tailored to the U.S. that allows for measuring (or comparing) corruption in U.S. states, cities, or metropolitan areas.
Using data from 1976-2010, the UIC report shows that Illinois has a combined total of 1,828 public corruption convictions, an average of 51 convictions per year, and a 1.42 conviction rate per 10,000 in the population. Using the same calculations for other states, the report shows that Illinois ranks third in total convictions (New York: 2,522; California: 2,345), third in conviction’s per year (New York: 70/year; California: 65/year), and third in conviction rate per 10,000 people (Washington D.C.: 16.70; Louisiana: 2.00). The report states that Washington, D.C. is so high because of many corruption cases being heard in federal courts located in the nation’s capital that originated elsewhere in the country. Additionally, the report concludes that since both “California and New York have much larger populations than Illinois. It is important to look at corruption per capita.” When viewed per capita Illinois (1.42) ranks above New York (1.30) and California (0.63) in corruption rate convictions. According to UIC’s methodology, the report accurately states that “the State of Illinois is the third most corrupt state” (Simpson et al., 2012).
In order to further understand where the centers of corruption are in the U.S., the report compares metropolitan areas such as New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago. To do this, it breaks down corruption convictions to the federal jurisdictional levels. And using the same methods that were performed at the state level, the report concludes that the Chicago metropolitan area (i.e. the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois) has the most combined public corruption convictions between 1976 and 2010 with 1,531 convictions. This out numbers Los Angeles (i.e. the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California) and New York (i.e. the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York) that have 1,275 and 1,202 convictions, respectively (Simpson et al., 2012).
Oddly, the report stops there. It suggests that since Chicago had the highest total corruption convictions that the “…Chicago metropolitan region has been the most corrupt in the country since 1976” (Simpson et al., 2012). Contrasting its own methodologies of comparing per capita used at the state level, the UIC’s report chooses not to compare per capita rates at the metropolitan level, even though it explicitly stated earlier in the report that “It is important to look at corruption per capita” (Simpson et al., 2012). In the current paper, the district level per capita numbers are calculated (Table 1). Using the same methodology that the UIC report did, it discovered that the Chicago metropolitan region is not the most corrupt in the country. In fact, just comparing cities used in the UIC’s report shows that New Orleans (i.e. the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana) and New York’s districts have much higher per capita conviction rates. New Orleans at 3.43 is over double Chicago’s 1.65 conviction rate and New York’s 2.36 is also well above Chicago.
Table 1: District convictions per 10,000 population
Rank for Convictions
District (Major Cities)
Convictions 1976 – 2010
Convictions Per 10,000 Population
Louisiana-Eastern (New Orleans)
New York-Southern (Manhattan)
California-Central (Los Angeles)
Sources: (Department of Justice, 1991, 2001, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau, 2011)
Additionally, corruption convictions are not an established corruption measurement tool. The most well-known and accepted measurements of corruption come from Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) and the Bribe Payer’s Index. Respectively, these indices use surveys to find the overall perception of corruption or a firms’ willingness to pay bribes. Other tools such as the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators and surveys are also used. In fact, using convictions or conviction rates can severely bias the results. For example, compare the United States and the Philippines. Transparency International’s CPI ranks corruption levels on a 0-10 scale, with 0 being extremely corrupt and 10 being the least corrupt. In addition, it ranks countries from the least corrupt country at number one (New Zealand) to the most corrupt country at 182 (Somalia) (Transparency International, 2011). And while some experts may argue that the CPI is not totally accurate (meaning New Zealand at number one may not actually be less corrupt than Denmark at number 2), few, if any, would argue that the Philippines at number 129 is less corrupt than the United States at number 24. Furthermore, the Philippines has a CPI rating of 2.6 compared to the U.S. at 7.1 (Transparency International, 2011).
Using the exact same methodologies as the UIC’s report and data from both countries from 2006-2009 the following numbers emerge (Table 2). The U.S. had a combined total of 4,677 public corruption convictions, an average of 1,069 convictions per year, and a 0.15 conviction rate per 10,000 in the population (Department of Justice, 2011, p. 30; U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). The Philippines had a combined total of 644 public corruption convictions, an average of 161 convictions per year, and a 0.07 conviction rate per 10,000 in the population (Mangahas & Ilagan, 2011; United Nations, 2012). According to UIC’s measurement tools, the U.S. is much more corrupt than the Philippines. In fact, the U.S. corruption conviction rate is double that of the Philippines.
Table 2: Country convictions per 10,000 population
Rank for Convictions
Convictions 2006 – 2009
Convictions Per 10,000 Population
Sources: (Department of Justice, 2011; Mangahas & Ilagan, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau, 2011; United Nations, 2012)
Moreover, using UIC’s methodology and comparing the two jurisdictional districts of Wyoming (i.e. the U.S. District Court of Wyoming) and Los Angeles (i.e. the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California) suggests Wyoming is more corrupt than Los Angeles with respective conviction rates of 0.80 and 0.69 (Table 1) (Department of Justice, 1991, 2001, 2011; U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). The reason corruption convictions should not be used is because it is often the case that the most corrupt regions are the ones that rarely bring charges of corruption. And, when charges are brought, they rarely end in with a conviction. If a region is corrupt it is easy to bribe one’s way out of charges and or convictions. It could be that New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and others have so many convictions because they actually charge people with corruption and follow through with a conviction of the crime, while other regions never even charge corrupt individuals. This is not a certainty, but just one possibility.
UIC’s report simply does not hold up when analyzing its methodologies. Corruption convictions are not an established measurement tool. The current paper easily showed through the U.S./Philippine example that using such a tool may actually lead to results that are completely contradictory to recognized measurement tools and good judgment. In addition, UIC’s report uses different methods when comparing states and metropolitan areas. In doing so, it makes inaccurate statements by claiming that the “…Chicago metropolitan region has been the most corrupt in the country since 1976” (Simpson et al., 2012). Even if one were to accept corruption convictions as an appropriate measuring tool, the current paper has also established that at least two other metropolitan areas would be more corrupt.
Unfortunately, the authors of the UIC report plan on using the findings to motivate Chicago officials into extra ethics training and other anticorruption initiatives. And while this author is a very big proponent of anticorruption initiatives, the motivation behind expanding them must come from sound findings. Still, a good amount of credit should be given for the attempt made to measure corruption in the U.S. However, designing and using appropriate corruption measuring tools to study and compare cities and states within the U.S. requires further research. The hope is that the Federal Government, a university, research center, or non-government organization recognize the need for developing a common methodology for measuring corruption among states and metropolitan areas. It could use established measurement methods to help develop an appropriate corruption measure tailored to the United States. And of course, a greater understanding of where corruption is focused allows policymakers to concentrate resources where appropriate. Much like Transparency International did 20 years ago in the international community, the institution that takes this up would most likely be vaulted into the position of a leading organization as it pertains to corruption in the U.S.
Department of Justice. (1991). Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section for 1990. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pin/docs/arpt-1990.pdf
Department of Justice. (2001). Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section for 2000. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pin/docs/arpt-2000.pdf
Department of Justice. (2011). Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of the Public Integrity Section for 2010. Retrieved from http://www.justice.gov/criminal/pin/docs/arpt-2010.pdf
Janssen, K., & Spielman, F. (2012, February 15). It’s official: Chicago is nation’s corruption capital. Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/10659504-418/its-official-chicago-is-...
Lee, M. (2012, February 16). Chicago most corrupt city, report shows. Politico. Retrieved from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/72961.html
Mangahas, M., & Ilagan, K. A. (2011, February 9). 4 Ombudsmen, 4 failed crusades vs corruption. Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from http://pcij.org/stories/4-ombudsmen-4-failed-crusades-vs-corruption/
Simpson, D., Nowlan, J., Gradel, T., Zmuda, M., Sterrett, D., & Cantor, D. (2012). Chicago and Illinois, Leading the Pack in Corruption. Chicago: University of Illinois at Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.uic.edu/depts/pols/ChicagoPolitics/leadingthepack.pdf
Stern, A. (2012a, February 15). Corruption still rife in Chicago years after Al Capone: study. Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-usa-corruption-chicagotre81...
Stern, A. (2012b, February 15). Corruption still rife in Chicago years after Al Capone: study. Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/15/us-usa-corruption-chicago-idUS...
Transparency International. (2011). Corruption Perceptions Index: Transparency International. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/
U.S. Census Bureau. (2011). 2010 Census Interactive Population Search. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from http://2010.census.gov/2010census/popmap/ipmtext.php?fl=
United Nations. (2012). UNdata country profile: Philippines. UNdata. Retrieved February 22, 2012, from http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=PHILIPPINES
Wall Street Journal. (2012, February 15). Report: Chicago, Los Angeles among most corrupt. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/APf581d96455264e3494dab4434a065bfe.html
Winter, M. (2012, February 15). Study ranks Chicago as nation’s most corrupt region. USA Today. Retrieved from http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2012/02/study-ra...
Appendix: Population Calculations (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011)
|U.S. District Court for the Central District of California: counties
|San Luis Obispo
|U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana: counties
|St. John the Baptist
|U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois: counties
|U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York: counties
|New York (Manhattan)
 Note that Louisiana- Eastern and Illinois-Northern had reported convictions of “N/A” for the years 1976-1977. When these years are left out for all districts the numbers scarcely change: New York-Southern = 2.35, Wyoming = 0.80, and California-Central = 0.68.
 Number of corruption convictions overtime in the Philippines is relatively difficult to uncover. When Philippine figures for 2006-2009 came readily available they were used and the U.S. numbers were then accordingly used. It should also be noted that the Philippine numbers technically span from December 2005 to December 2009, which is essentially 2006 thru 2009. So, the 2006-2009 U.S. numbers used are the most accurate and appropriate for comparison.
Corruption in the Vatican?
Posted: February 20, 2012 at 4:55 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Andrew Guth, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
While corruption in secular governments and the private sector is commonplace and well-known by many, most are surprised when corruption appears in religious organizations. However, it appears that a corruption scandal has been unfolding within the Catholic Church over the past year. Just recently, the scandal broke out of the confines of the, normally strongly sealed, Vatican and into the public’s view.
In 2009, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano was appointed deputy-governor of Vatican City – the number two position in the governorate. Soon after, he was overwhelmed by the realization of corruption, nepotism, and cronyism. Vigano claims corruption plays a major role in the awarding of contracts to outside companies, specifically in the areas of gardening, cleaning, and construction. Additionally, he claims many Vatican-employed maintenance workers have been dispirited because “work was always given to the same companies at costs at least double compared to those charged outside the Vatican.”
From 2009-2011, Vigano transformed the governorate by imposing strict rules for transparency, accountability, and competition. Within one year he turned a Vatican budget deficit of $10.5 million in 2009, to a surplus of $45 million in 2010. However, on March 22, 2011, Vigano was removed from office by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. His removal was based on an unsigned newspaper article in the IL Giornale that accused Vigano of being inefficient. His removal came three years before his tenure was to end.
In a letter to Pope Benedict XVI on March 27, 2011, Vigano expressed concern of a smear campaign performed by fellow Vatican officials. He tells Pope Benedict that those officials want him transferred as a way to stop his campaign to clean up Vatican procedures in awarding contracts and to increase transparency. He writes “”Holy Father, my transfer right now would provoke much disorientation and discouragement in those who have believed it was possible to clean up so many situations of corruption and abuse of power that have been rooted in the management of so many departments.”
In another letter to Pope Benedict on April 4, 2011, Vigano asserts that funds are being mismanaged by the Vatican financial committee – a committee that includes the head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi – that is entrusted with the Vatican finances. He describes the bankers as individuals “who looked after their own interests more than ours,” and backs his claim by showing Pope Benedict how the committee lost the Vatican $2.5 million in one transaction. Additionally, an Italian investigative television show interviewed a man from the committee who (concealing his identity) stated that, due to Vigano insistence on transparency and competition in awarding contracts to outside companies, Vigano was considered a “ballbreaker.”
The letters also suggested that he had worked hard to “eliminate corruption, private interests and dysfunction that are widespread in various departments” and that, due to the opponents he has made while trying to reduce corruption, “no-one should be surprised about the press campaign against me.” He even requested a face-to-face meeting with his distractors and claimed that other cardinals in the Vatican knew the situation of corruption and of the smear campaign well. Although Vigano had already been removed from office, he still pleaded with Pope Benedict to not transfer him, stating that it “would be a defeat difficult for me to accept.” However, in October 2011, Pope Benedict transferred Vigano to the United States. Vigano was “promoted” and now acts as the ambassador of the Vatican to Washington D.C.
The Vatican claims that the journalistic investigations have been “partial” and unsuccessful in handling complex subjects. And that the Vatican continues to use the “correct and transparent management that inspired Monsignor Vigano.” It also states that, because of the claims by Vigano, the Vatican was pressured to remove him from office and transfer him to D.C. It suggests that the transfer is in fact a promotion and not a punishment. Moreover, the Vatican suggests it will explore legal action against any broadcasts which suggests senior officials or financial advisors of the Vatican are mismanaging funds. Interestingly, one response that is lacking from the Vatican is explicit denial of Vigano’s claims.
1) AFP: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hcJstSgPS-bwlQLRjIWf9BXE5vJQ?docId=CNG.3248d6bb9b1f306d64ddfceb443a1871.8c1
2) CatholicCulture.org: http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=13114
3) Catholic Herald: http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2012/01/27/vatican-downplays-corruption-claim/
4) Catholic News Agency: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/fr.-lombardi-vatican-corruption-charges-well-beyond-reality/
5) National Catholic Reporter: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/vatican-denies-corruption-charges-attributed-us-nuncio
6) Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-vatican-corruption-idUSTRE80P1EF20120126
7) Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/27/us-vatican-corruption-idUSTRE80Q1KI20120127
8) Rome Reports: http://www.romereports.com/palio/vaticans-spokesman–regrets-the-serious-accusations-made-by-an–italian-tv-show-english-5928.html
Just Giving Thanks? Views on Corruption from Saratov
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
In addition to our headquarters in the Washington, D.C. area, TraCCC maintains research centers in three cities across Russia. These include Saratov (located in southeastern Russia on the Volga River), Stavropol (located in the north Caucasus), and Vladivostok (located in the Far East). Today’s blog post will draw on news reports gathered by TraCCC researchers in Saratov and will focus on issues of corruption and bureaucratic malfeasance. More information on TraCCC’s Saratov Center may be obtained here.
According the newspaper Saratovskii Vzglad, the number of reported incidents of local government officials in the Saratov region abusing their office for personal gain has risen in recent years, as has the number of individuals caught in an act of bribery. In 2011, it was reported that the head of the municipal education board and two municipal education board officials were arrested for bribery in 2011. In addition, one official from the Saratov region Ministry of Sport, Physical Culture, and Tourism as well as three officials from the regional administration office were arrested on bribery charges.
Among executive branch agencies in the Saratov region, the unchallenged bribery leader remains the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Of the 31 law enforcement officials charged with corruption or abuse of office in 2011, 28 are from the MVD, 2 are from the local branch of the Federal Drug Control Service, and one penal system official. A majority of the MVD offenders come from the agency’s traffic bureau, which conforms to the stereotypical view of low-level bribery in the Russian Federation.
While civil society in Russia and indeed across the former Soviet Union remains underdeveloped, one area of growth has been in the environmental sector. Exemplified by the civil society activists who have worked tireless to protect the Khimki forest outside of Moscow, Russian citizens are becoming increasingly aware of the ways they can work to protect the environment.
That said, the Russian state is also working to improve environmental protection. Aleksei Menshikov, an official from the Volzhskoe Interregional Environmental Crimes Investigative Agency, responsible for the Saratov region, recently gave an interview to reporters at the news portal “Saratov Business Consulting.” Broadly speaking, Menshikov noted that his investigators submitted more than 30 criminal cases for judicial consideration in 2011, which covered crimes such as bribery, abuse of office, misappropriation of state funds, and others.
According to Menshikov, bureaucratic corruption in the environmental sector is rampant. One particularly problematic organization is the agency responsible for fish and wildlife control. Recently, an inspector from this agency decided to falsify information about administrative violations in order to improve his job performance record. After filing the non-existent violations, the inspector paid the fines himself. However, the inspector failed to cover his tracks well enough, which led to his being caught and convicted for his crimes. 2011 also saw a number of serious cases of high-level environmental corruption, including the prosecution and conviction of an assistant to the minister of the regional environmental protection committee.
In Menshikov’s view, people who take bribes destroy their inner professionalism. While committing crimes against the state is clearly bad, Menshikov holds that bribe-takers lose parts of their souls when they enter into corrupt dealings. As practice demonstrates bribes are not given to stupid people, because they are easy to catch. Instead, the clever ones wait until the time is right to collect a bribe.
At the same time, Menshikov observes that many citizens fail to fully understand the ramifications of their participation in bribery schemes. Menshikov recounts one case in which an experienced veterinarian was arrested for taking bribes. Although the man was relatively old, intelligent, and a respected professional, he appeared not to understand why he was arrested. This case, however, is not unique. It appears, according to Menshikov, that people are unable to comprehend how much is at risk when they engage in corruption. Unfortunately, fines and jail sentences seem unable to deter corrupt behavior.
Views on corruption from local leaders
Saratov Center researchers also collected public statements on corruption made by prominent local leaders, all of which were found in Saratovskii Vzglad. Oleg Galkin, a deputy in the Saratov Oblast Duma recounts a story about how when he was driving with a friend, their car was stopped by traffic police. After a brief discussion with the police officer, Galkin’s friend got out of the car to “pay” the fine. Galkin wonders about who is guilty, the bribe-taker or bribe-giver. On one hand, it is said that one cannot resolve a problem without a bribe. On the other hand, Galkin talks about instances in which one party tries to resolve an issue without paying a bribe and another party chooses to pay. The result is always the same: the bribe payer inevitably wins out. In Galkin’s view, people have taught bureaucrats that they need to take bribes and bureaucrats have taught the people that they need to give bribes. How this vicious cycle may be disrupted remains unclear.
Dmitry Fedotov, vice-chairman of the Saratov regional administration, takes a slightly more nuanced view. While claiming that he has never bribed anyone, Fedotov readily admits that he has regularly offered “thanks” to many people throughout his life. One time, after seriously injuring his leg, he received excellent medical care and was not given a bill. Out of appreciation to his doctors, he brought them a nice bottle of whiskey. Fedotov admits that he has only once given a bribe in order to skirt the law. Whereas now people pay bribes to avoid the army, Fedotov had the completely opposite experience. After going to the local military recruitment office, the recruiters refused to enlist him. So Fedotov went to the nearest store, bought two bottles of cognac, and brought them to the recruiters, who approved his enlistment application.
Alexander Parashchenko, head doctor at the St. Sofia Psychiatric Hospital, suggests that there is not a single person in Russia who has not given a bribe, as even Lenin gave money to doctors. Be it a small bribe or perhaps a token of appreciation, everyone at some point has offered something, and Parashchenko is no exception. However, this prominent member of the Saratov community maintains that he has committed no crimes. Instead, Parashchenko argues that he has acted in the manner that has been required of him; to do otherwise would cause problems for him, his family, and his friends. For Parashchenko, giving money to doctors and police officers on the street is not corruption, but an unfortunate manifestation of human nature. Actual corruption is something different, having to do with connections between criminals and the state.
As is clear from the above commentary, bribe giving and bribe-taking are woven into the fabric of life in Russia. For the Western observer, it may be difficult at first to conceptually separate a bribe from a token of appreciation, but Russian cultural practices appear to make a distinction between the two. In light of this, perhaps, it is perhaps more comprehensible, but no less justifiable, to see how a token of appreciation to your doctor could lead to an envelop full of cash to a bureaucrat for a coveted business license.
BEYOND MURDER STATISTICS: UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN GANGS, DRUG TRADE AND VIOLENCE IN EL SALVADOR
Posted: February 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:54 am
Author: Nazia Hussain, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
‘The system rejects us. They just want to lock the gang members up. But we are just people. We do God’s will.’ (an 18-year-old gang member in San Salvador)
El Salvador is a nation of just 6 million people. However, it has one of the highest murder rates in the world (roughly 12 per day). According to officials, street gangs including the Mara Salvatrucha and the 18th Street, some of them descendants of gangsters deported from Los Angeles in the 1990s, are responsible for as much as 60% of homicides.
(Map courtesy World Atlas)
Gang violence is not a new phenomenon is El Salvador. After the civil war (1980- 1992) between the military-led government and left-wing guerilla groups, the post war Salvadoran society was fertile for gangs: weapons were easily available; unemployment was high; and opportunity was low, especially for youths. In addition, war and the migration of more than one million Salvadorans left broken families and absence of role models. It also created fertile ground for international criminal activity including drugs trade, money laundering, and human trafficking.
At present, even though Mexico grabs headlines, El Salvador claims one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Mexican gangs also call it ‘El Caminito’ or the little pathway, as it offers a trafficking route for the drug trade from Mexico onwards to the rest of the world.
Thus, El Salvador now finds itself drawn into an expanding drug trade. In part, some Mexican gangs have infiltrated the country, helped by ruthless street gangs with roots in Los Angeles, secretive networks left over from the country’s civil war, and presence of the U.S. funded highway that provides an overland route for shipping cocaine north. Additionally, with its use of U.S. dollar as its official currency, the country provides avenues for money laundering. However, cartels such as the Texis Cartel are free agents, offering their smuggling routes for whoever is willing to pay for them. An El Salvadoran newspaper reported that Texis Cartel-a drug cartel, had turned itself into one of the key players for anyone seeking to smuggle drugs through the country, by working in collaboration with a network of corrupt policemen, soldiers, judges and federal congressmen.
One indicator of the illicit activities is the high homicide rate in the country, which is generally attributed to gangs, but some argue that it is easy to pin the blame on gangs for the violence. One of El Salvador’s leading human rights organizations, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, that has analyzed homicides every year since 2004, has concluded that hundreds of murders were committed by rogue police officers, private security guards and people hired to carry out ‘social cleansing’– elimination of undesirables through extrajudicial executions.
Human Rights Groups and experts have noted that the death squads that operated in the past did not disappear, but continue to target suspected criminals or gang members, and even homeless children. On the other hand, street-gang culture is generally held responsible for the high homicide rate in the country. What remains indisputable is that the youth are disproportionately affected by violence. According to National Civil Police, people 18 to 30 years of age committed half of homicides in 2009, and 70% of victims were aged between 15 and 39 years. Reports from the country document the despair, loathing and anger against a corrupt political system increasingly viewed as hostile to the youth, which views joining gangs as the only solution.
It is understandable that there has been a focus on violence in El Salvador. Recently more attention has been given to the related activities. While dealing with the high murder rate of El Salvador is very important, focusing on violence alone does not account for the complexity of gang activity and its links to the drug trade and therefore policy priorities of the US Government. For one, El Salvador is the trafficking route for Mexican cartels, and hence, is important for the United States. The Mexican drug trade poses an existential threat to Mexico as well as to the United States, as has been widely documented. Second, not understanding the interrelationship of violence, drug trade, corruption and money laundering could lead to inappropriate policy solutions that may only touch one part of the complex problem that results from the nexus of crime, corruption, and terrorism (in the form of the successors to the death squads that operated in El Salvador for many years.)
Law and disorder: Corrupt practices by lawyers in Russia
Posted: January 18, 2012 at 2:54 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:55 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
Corruption, according to many sources, can be understood as the abuse of public office for private gain. Despite the good intentions of politicians, government employees, the private sector, and civil society, corruption has remained frustratingly resilient in many countries. In Russia, corruption is widely acknowledged as endemic. Near the end of his second term in office, former (and future) Russian president Vladimir Putin remarked that the inability to make significant progress in the battle against corruption was one of the greatest failures of his administration. Despite the unveiling of a much-heralded anti-corruption program in 2008, Dmitry Medvedev, currently Russia’s president, appears to have made about as much progress as his political mentor.
In Russia, as in many countries, corruption takes many forms and impacts nearly every state agency and sector of the economy. One under-studied topic is that of corruption by lawyers within Russia’s judicial system. A TraCCC researcher has conducted extensive research on this topic after regularly encountering it during his professional activities. Given the sensitivity of his work, we have decided not to reveal the researcher’s identity.
Corruption among lawyers
During the course of his work, the TraCCC researcher repeatedly observed what he deems as “quasi-corrupt” relations between lawyers and officials from law enforcement or the security services. These “quasi-corrupt” relations often begin when a lawyer orients himself toward work “by appointment,” understood otherwise as legal defense work financed by the state. The system for this type of legal work remains incomplete, which had led to regular abuses. For one, a lawyer working “by appointment” often receives a salary from the very state agencies prosecuting the “appointed” lawyer’s client. In such situations, it is unsurprising if conflicts of interest exist. In addition, the process by which a lawyer receives work “by appointment” is incomplete. Until recently, for example, investigators in certain jurisdictions were able to select the same lawyer for all cases. These types of arrangements likely led to illegal collusion or the development of corrupt relations.
After the initiation of “quasi-corrupt” relations, a lawyer may move to what the TraCCC researcher refers to as “backhanded corruption.” In these instances, a lawyer merely goes about the formal aspects of his or her work. Instead of actually providing assistance to his client, the lawyer simply fills out the minimum amount of paperwork to qualify for payment from the state. A lawyer engaged in “backhanded corruption” has basically sold himself or herself to law enforcement or security services and has ceased to fullfill his or her importance function as a defense lawyer and civil society check on state power.
The TraCCC researcher demonstrates that lawyers already engaged in “backhanded corruption” will move to the next stage, “direct corruption.” Lawyers involved in “direct corruption” have become “useful” to law enforcement and the security services and can be trusted to “do the right thing.” At this point, a lawyer has become an active agent of the state.
Corruption: a Russian lawyer’s biggest competition
In the course of his work, the TraCCC researcher analyzed research and data from the Information Science for Democracy Foundation (INDEM), a Russian NGO supported by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Research by INDEM shows that corrupt bureaucrats must maintain the resources and create opportunities to engage in corrupt dealings. In other words, the corrupt bureaucrat increasingly becomes the initiator and organizer of corrupt dealings.
This systematic, organized bureaucratic corruption is the main “competition” to the development of the legal profession in Russia. When a Russian citizen encounters legal or administrative problems, what recourse do they have for resolution? A citizen has two choices: either obtain the services of a lawyer or pay a bribe. The first way is legal, but time consuming. Furthermore, the structure of the legal system does not permit a well-intentioned lawyer to guarantee a client’s desired result, even if the client is clearly innocent.
As a result, citizens prefer to give bribes because it is believed that bribery will lead to the desired result in a short period of time. In such schemes, the lawyer is simply superfluous. Once corrupt practices have become entrenched in the economic and political system, general market principles begin to apply, such as eliminating any unncessary middlemen, like lawyers.
Drug Dealers, Drug Lords, and Drug Warriors-cum-Traffickers: Drug Crime and the Narcotic Market in Tajikistan
Posted: January 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:55 am
Latypov, Alisher.(2011). Drug Dealers, Drug Lords, and Drug Warriors-cum-Traffickers: Drug Crime and the Narcotic Market in Tajikistan ((translated and summarized by T. Dempsey).Vilnius: Eurasian Harm Reduction Network. (Updated Russian)
Much of the specialist literature and reports of international law enforcement organizations on drug trafficking in Central Asia have tended to focus on the direction of drug flows and how local government corruption facilitates the trade. Few, if any, give us an insights into to the street level dynamics of the local drug markets and the role that petty dealers and individual drug users play in the drug trade. That is what makes the new report, “Drug dealers, drug lords and drug warriors-cum-traffickers: Drug crime and the narcotics market in Tajikistan” by TraCCC researcher Alisher Latypov so unique. While Latypov finds the “upperworld-underworld” approach of other researchers like Kaputadze and Paoli et al generally useful for exploring the at times competitive-at times cooperative relationships between government officials and criminal organizations, such a paradigm reveals almost nothing about how members of the law enforcement community interact with both the barygy (the local slang word for drug dealer) and individual drug users. This triangle in fact forms the lynchpin of the drug market as it exists on the street level in Tajikistan and other Central Asian countries.
In addition to applying an original approach to the investigation of drug trafficking in Central Asia, Latypov uses interviews with individual users to confirm and/or supplement existing reports and studies on the drug trade in Tajikistan, particularly those published by the Tajik government and local researchers (neither of which have received much attention from Western researchers and NGOs as of yet). The testimonies of the users provide a vivid portrait of the kinds of dangers and humiliations this vulnerable layer of society, particularly female users, faces day to day and lays bare the thoroughly corrupt nature of Tajikistan’s law enforcement agencies and corrections facilities.
Some of the reports major findings are:
1) the street-level drug trade is evolving and becoming more mobile whereby cellular communications are used to arrange meetings or direct delivery of drugs to a user’s home by the dealer in lieu of the previous practice of using specially-designated apartments or homes for the sale/purchase of drugs;
2) there is an emerging tendency amongst dealers to have purchasers transfer money to their bank accounts to facilitate larger drug sales;
3) heroin in Tajikistan is now more widely available, easier to acquire and of higher quality – all of which is consistent with changes in the prices of high purity heroin in the country in recent years;
4) the current situation in those towns bordering Afghanistan indicates a strong correlation between high availability/use of drugs and near epidemic rates of HIV infection among injecting drug users;
5) new kinds of drugs like pill-form methadone from Iran and cocaine and ecstasy from China and Russia are being confiscated in greater volume and increasing frequency in Tajikistan, with the latter two becoming especially popular in night clubs frequented by Tajik youth; and
6) the Tajik drug market is being connected to drug markets in other countries through new routes between Tajikistan and China and Tajikistan and Iran, with drugs moving in both directions.
7) Tajikistan’s prisons have become narcozones whereby the dealers arrested on the streets for distribution of drugs continue to be supplied by police and corrections officers for sale within the penitentiaries.
TraCCC urges all those researching the challenges of fighting drug trafficking in Central Asia as well as those concerned with the spread of drug addiction and HIV throughout the region to read the English summary of this report or the full-length updated version in Russian.
Typhoon Washi in the Philippines Increases Opportunities for Organized Crime and Terrorism
Posted: January 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:55 am
Author: Andrew Guth, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
Typhoon Washi devastated the Southern Philippines last month – especially Cagayan de Ora in the northern central region of Mindanao. The Red Cross has confirmed 652 deaths and over 800 still missing. Additionally, the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) of the Philippines reported at least 35,000 displaced individuals. The news recently got worse with a strain of rat fever that has now hit the region, infecting over 200 and killing eight. Unfortunately, the impacts of the typhoon will most likely continue in ways that many overlook – namely increased human trafficking and terrorist activities.
First, looting and lack of law enforcement are commonly associated with natural disasters. However, human trafficking tends to be overlooked or simply put as a low priority. However, in highly prone human trafficking regions (such as Mindanao in the Southern Philippines) the human traffickers live in the villages hit by natural disasters. They are constantly observing the nearby villages to see who is vulnerable and wait for an opportunity of weakness (such as a natural disaster). When the opportunity presents itself, they approach their target. Conversely, rescuers, international aid organizations, and military may take days to arrive at the disaster site. This gives traffickers a huge head start to begin their process of trafficking. Many times, the traffickers and their victims have departed by the time rescuers arrive. Furthermore, if they are unable to leave due to lack of access routes, then once access routes are cleared for help to enter, the traffickers already have their victims and are ready leave before any appropriate processing stations are established. Additionally, it is often the goal of rescuers to remove people from the disaster site, so there are few suitable check points preventing traffickers from removing their victims.
If one is on the ground during one of these disasters, one realizes the enormous advantage the traffickers have. Families are split apart during the storm and traffickers use the desire of others to find family members to their advantage. One common tactic of the traffickers is to find children who have lost their family (either because they were separated or the family died during the disaster) and lie to the child by telling them that they know where their parents are. If any processing stations or check points have been established, the trafficker tells the child that if they do not do as they say then they will never see their parents again. This is not to imply that they threaten the child directly, but instead tell the child that if they are questioned by anyone that the child needs to tell that person that the trafficker is their parent. The trafficker may suggest to the child that the people asking questions are there to take the child away, and if that happens then the child will never see their parents again. Since many traffickers are family friends or acquaintances the child trusts the trafficker and readily lies believing it is in their best interest. There is little doubt that several of the 800 still missing are currently being human trafficked in other regions of the Philippines and perhaps abroad.
Second, many of the 20,000 soldiers stationed in Mindanao to fight Muslim insurgents are now being redirected to lead rescue operations in the typhoon disaster area. Only weeks after this redirection and presumably easing of pressure on the insurgents, five high-level international terrorists have been confirmed on the island of Sulu in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). These terrorists include Zulkifli bin Hir (who has a $5 million dollar reward offered for him) and Amin Baco from Malaysia, Abdullah Ali from Singapore, and Qayim and Sa’ad from Indonesia. The concern is that this renewed and strengthened connection with the regional al-Quaida network will lead to increased funding and better training for local insurgents.
These are difficult issues that are hard to moderate, let alone solve. However, it is apparent that a disaster area must be better secured (at least once rescuers arrive). Also, better training of DSWD officers, military and law enforcement personnel, and international aid organizations about trafficking techniques need implementing. Knowing that children may lie about who their parent is and other techniques can help decrease trafficking after a natural disaster. As for the increase in insurgent connections, this will happen. The decision of a society to redirect resources to help those in need and away from an insurgency is the correct decision. However, the decision will most likely have other unfortunate consequences. This author would not be surprised if there is increased terrorist activity in the region in the near future due to the redirection of military forces to Typhoon Washi. Such activities could cost additional lives.
Possibilities for Illicit Trafficking in the Wake of Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan: A Regional Problem
Posted: December 13, 2011 at 6:59 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:55 am
Author: Nazia Hussain, PhD Candidate, George Mason University, School of Public Policy
When one states an idea too many times, it loses its significance, even if it holds true. The same could be argued for the fact that the failure of Afghanistan as a state holds ramifications for the region and the rest of the world.
As the country braces for troop withdrawal, it can be pointed out that illicit trafficking (including that of opium) will skyrocket. Not that illicit trafficking, especially of opium, has taken a backseat in the past. According to estimates by UNODC, the global opiate market was at least worth US$ 68 billion in 2009. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, transnational organized crime groups were the main beneficiaries; the Afghan Taliban earned around US$155 million in 2009, Afghan drug traffickers US$2.2 billion, and Afghan farmers US$440 million.
(Image courtesy CNN)
Furthermore, Afghan opium problem is not either/or in terms of significance to the region and the world; its magnitude and lucrative nature affects everyone. Although Afghan heroin is directly trafficked to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Central Asian countries, and Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it flows onwards to the rest of the world. UNODC estimates that in 2009, 150 tons of Afghan heroin reached Europe, 120 tons Asia, and 45 tons Africa. Africa has increasingly reported receiving Afghan heroin, re-emerging as a heroin trafficking route to Europe, and to a lesser extent to North America and Oceania in 2009. In the process, increasing heroin flows to Africa have also generated a rise in heroin abuse in Africa, a phenomenon that has been reported in other countries that are used as trafficking routes as well. For instance, the 2010 Drug Report by United Nations noted that neighboring countries like Iran, Pakistan, and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia consumed the majority of the world’s opium, as they ended up as trade routes for Afghan opium.
In the absence of even a scintilla of fear of presence of US and NATO troops, as well as imminent cash flow problems (when donor fatigue sets in, and the aid-driven economy struggles to survive), prospects of illicit trafficking, including drug trafficking seem bright.
Currently, according to World Bank estimates, 97 percent of Afghanistan’s economy is tied to international military and donor spending; at present the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development spend about $320 million a month in Afghanistan. As the World Bank figure below highlights, aid to Afghanistan exceeded the country’s GDP in 2010. What is more, in November 2011, a released World Bank report warned that the country will suffer a recession in 2014 and beyond after foreign troops leave and aid flows decrease substantially, and that the country could face a complete economic collapse if the security situations gets worse.
(Image courtesy World Bank)
The Bank forecasts a US$7 billion deficit in the Afghan budget annually through 2021. Such a scenario spells serious trouble for the regional neighbors, which will end up (if they have not already done so) as conduits for illicit trafficking, facilitating the trade and inadvertently endangering local populations with the after effects. Such a trend will not be an anomaly, but a continuation of an established trend.
Thus, we can argue that in the wake of troops pullout, the economic outlook of Afghanistan coupled with the precarious security conditions, spells disaster for the region. In such conditions, illicit trafficking and organized crime is bound to increase. Just as opium production, processing, and trafficking is now a regional issue endangering neighboring states and beyond, so will possibilities of trafficking in other illicit sectors, and reach a magnitude that qualifies as a regional problem. Thus dealing with crime and trafficking issues is not just important for Afghanistan, but also holds true for the region as a whole.
So where do we go from here? Perhaps from the beginning point that sounds like a tired cliché, but nevertheless holds true: that Afghanistan’s problems no longer remain Afghan problems, but are a serious cause of concern for the regional countries as well. Perhaps a cognizance of this fact might be the first step forward.
Perspectives on illicit drugs in Russia
Posted: December 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm, Last Updated: September 7, 2012 at 1:55 am
Author: Aaron Beitman, PhD Student, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Department of Political Science
In recent years, Russia has faced a growing drug problem within its borders. Drug abuse rates have been much higher than those in Europe and drug trafficking remains a highly lucrative enterprise.
For years TraCCC has engaged in research efforts to better understand the dimensions and challenges of illicit drug use and trafficking in the Russian Federation. Dr. Louise Shelley, TraCCC’s Director, produced this informative report from 2006 on the drug trade in Russia. Highlighting the role of organized crime in Russia’s drug trade, the report provides important context for the research showcased in this post.
TraCCC’s Vladivostok Center has an excellent track record ofgenerating groundbreaking research on organized crime and corruption in the Russian Far East and was responsible for administering the grants competition that produced the research discussed here. The grants competition winner, Roman Dremlyuga, is a research specialist at the Center for Drug Abuse and Destructive Influences Prevention at Far East Federal University in Vladivostok, Russia.
One of the main conclusions of Mr. Dremlyuga’s research is that Russia’s drug issues are a threat to national security and should be conceptualized as such by authorities. Opiates in particular are highly problematic as the Russian domestic opiate market has been valued at $12 billion or roughly 1/5 of the world market. More than 70% of the drugs entering the Russian market are produced abroad. Alongside synthetic drugs from Western Europe (coming through Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States) and cocaine from Latin America, opiates from Afghanistan present the biggest problems.
Across Russia, anti-narcotics efforts are hampered by a shortage of qualified personnel familiar with fighting financial crimes, organized crime groups, and drug crime. In addition, the absence of an effective legal base to guide efforts to control drugs and combat drug trafficking complicates the situation further. According to experts, only 10-15% of all estimated drug crimes are detected by authorities. It is therefore unsurprising that law enforcement confiscates roughly 7-10 kg out of every 100 kg of drugs passing through Russia.
The Russian Far East is particularly affected by high levels of drug use and drug trafficking. Analysis of the dynamics of drug crimes in the Russian Far East suggests increasing instability, a trend that has only continued to grow over the past ten years. Primorsky Krai, Khabarovsky Krai, the Jewish Autonomous Oblast and Amurskaya Oblast are particularly affected by drug-related crime in this area of the country.
Map courtesy of Wikipedia
According to official statistics, Primorsky Krai is among the top ten hot spots in Russia in terms of drug use and drug crime. Data from a survey of 167 law enforcement officials in Primorsky Krai conducted by Mr. Dremlyuga and his team provides telling information about the region’s anti-narcotics efforts. While a majority of respondents believe that the fight against drugs needs to remain a top priority, 67% found that anti-narcotics efforts must be drastically improved. Interestingly, 77% of respondents believe that criminal punishment for drug-related crimes is too soft and that the institution of the death penalty for such offenses would have utility.
Due to its climate and environment, Primorsky Krai is an excellent place for growing marijuana. Cultivation and processing of marijuana have reached such a level that the drug has become the main source of income for many rural inhabitants. Faced with high unemployment, rural inhabitants have begun planting it directly on their private plots. The fact that these residents can derive regular and substantial income from this activity virtually ensures that rural inhabitants will not be leaving the drug business anytime soon, barring the development of other alternatives.
This proliferation of local drug cultivation has taken place with the active participation of organized crime groups, which have regularly pushed local inhabitants into the drug business. Moreover, analysis of official statistics and operational indicators from law enforcement indicates that transnational crime groups have taken advantage of permissive conditions in Primorsky Krai to stoke local demand for drugs. Long established as a transit territory for illegal drugs distribution in the Russian Far East, Primorsky Krai has also become a key transshipment location for drugs headed to Korea, Japan, China, and Europe.
Mr. Dremlyuga also offers a few recommendations for improving anti-narcotics efforts in Russia. Below are a few of the most salient suggestions:
- Create rehabilitation centers for drug users, which in addition to criminal punishment, provide medical and psychological care, job training, and social reintegration training by highly qualified staff.
- Raise the financial penalty threshold for drug traffickers, so as to link financial crimes and drug trafficking more closely together.
- Individuals arrested for minor drug crimes, such as purchase of drugs for personal use, should undergo medical treatment in rehabilitation centers, in tandem with prison sentences or not, depending on the case.
- Finally, anti-narcotics policy should be reoriented to reflect the existence of organized drug crime groups; corrupt relations between citizens, government officials, and the justice system; and suppression of procedural and administrative offenses committed by government officials in support of drug crimes
Ultimately, any changes in Russia’s anti-narcotics policy, on either the federal or regional level, require a great deal of political will. At the same time, reports about a new synthetic drug called ‘Krokodil’ have added to worries about the devastating effects of drugs in Russia. Perhaps these stories will convince Russian leaders that now is the time undergo reform of anti-narcotics policy.