Russia remains home to one of the world’s most corrupt governments, but now, following the lead of President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Justice Ministry is proposing an exemption for some officials caught up in bribery schemes.
According to the Moscow Times, Putin proposed such a measure last year as part of his anti-corruption plan, calling for legislation that would bar prosecuting officials for corruption under “exceptional circumstances”.
Russia ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries, with Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index ranking it in 138th place this year out of 180 countries.
The amendments drafted by the Justice Ministry seek to exempt officials from legal accountability when corruption is unavoidable.
“In certain circumstances, complying with restrictions and bans... to prevent or settle conflicts of interests … is impossible for objective reasons,” the draft bill on the government's legal portal says.
But Ilya Shumanov, the deputy head of Transparency International Russia, believes the measure is simply an overt attempt to offer loopholes for corrupt officials.
“There’s not a single rational explanation for the use of exceptional circumstances when an official couldn’t declare a conflict of interest,” [Russia’s Vedomosti business daily] quoted Shumanov as saying.