Moscow Deputies Were Improperly Rewarded

October 1, 2013

A new system would pay Moscow officials an extra 20,000 rubles (approximately $620) for extra work done at their places of employment, including work done in the community, and landscaping. However, there are allegations that this reward is, in operation, just a bribe for loyal officials – Ed.

Cash rewards paid to the most active Moscow municipal deputies could be viewed as bribes, says a report by the Russian office of Transparency International. This has already resulted in a situation, where the money, according to the municipal officials themselves, is distributed “based on their loyalty to their superiors.” Independent experts say that “hand-fed deputies would sign anything anyway, without any rewards.”

The Moscow law that introduced subsidies for municipalities to “reward deputies” was adopted in late May, just before the campaign for the election of the capital’s mayor. Those municipal deputies who are most active performing their duties, such as site improvement and landscaping, would be entitled to twenty thousand rubles. And the total amount of annual subsidies for the deputies is estimated at about 370 million rubles.

This innovation contravenes the anti-corruption standards and should be repealed, argue the Transparency International experts. Deputies, as explained in the report, would be paid for the work that so far has been performed as a community service. According to experts of the center, the money will be paid just for signing off on acceptance and inspection of repair and improvement works, without examination and evaluation. This could be considered bribery of deputies, notes the Transparency International. Moreover, many municipalities have adopted provisions to ensure that the amount of the reward paid to the members of the Council of Deputies is decided by the same council, the report said. That is, “the deputies make decisions on paying bonuses to themselves, which is a prime example of the conflict of interest.”

Konstantin Jankauskas (a deputy for the district of Zyuzino) also calls these bonuses “political bribery,” as they began to accrue after the election of the mayor of Moscow. Although deputies should be entitled to reimbursement of expenses, such as for mobile phones or gasoline,” he said. Mr. Jankauskas said that he will spend the major part of the reward on publishing a local newspaper.

“It is wrong to receive money for something that you initially undertook to do on a voluntary basis,” Vladimir Garnachuk (a municipal deputy for the district of Troparevo- Nikulino) told “Ъ”. According to him, this is essentially “buying loyalty.” He said it was “complete outrage and sham,” that he was forced to accept a cash reward. Mr. Garnachuk reported that “every penny” of the twenty thousand rubles that was paid as a reward would be spent for the benefit of his district.

Meanwhile, although Ilya Sviridov (a deputy from Tagansky district) believes that the money is distributed “on the basis of their loyalty to superiors,” and he thinks that the idea of rewards makes sense. Last summer the authorities delegated some responsibilities for supervision over repairs and improvement work to the deputies, and this, he says, was not originally part of their responsibilities.

“Working on a voluntary basis, the municipal deputies are spending their time, and it has a financial equivalent, so it’s quite logical to pay compensation to the deputies”, says Alexander Kynev, a political analyst. The main problem, according to him, is related to the distribution of rewards between the municipalities, not to cash payments to individual deputies.

Meanwhile, Kirill Kabanov, the head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, said that the pressure on the deputies could be exercised without any incentives. “Those who are tame will sign anything anyway, without any rewards, and those who stand by their position will stick to their principles.”

At a meeting of the Council of municipalities Moscow municipal deputies tried to decide what criteria should be used to distribute a subsidy provided by the city government. Opinions divided: from proposals to distribute the money equally to the outright rejection of the idea of ​​rewards.