A leftist lawmaker wants to amend the criminal code to target non-monetary bribes, saying there is a growing wiliness by corrupt officials.
Oleg Mikheyev of the center-left party Fair Russia told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily that the definition of bribe should include all possible benefits – from cash to promotion, sex services or even dining out at someone else’s expense.
Mikheyev suggests “intangible bribes” should be punished with fines of between 25,000 rubles ($650) and a hefty 500 million rubles (over $13 million).
The motion is very similar to proposals made by Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office back in 2012. The prosecutors’ draft was prepared in cooperation with the Group of States against Corruption, or GRECO, and also sought to recognize various services and advantages as bribes.
The 2012 bill was immediately met with strong resistance from experts. They claimed that it would be very hard to implement, as the only way to for the police to prove the bribery charges would be to ensure the full cooperation from the suspect and the bribe-givers, which was unlikely.
However, the experts are showing more understanding of Mikheyev’s suggestion. The Dean of Russia’s Higher School of Economics, Pavel Kudyukin, told reporters that bribery must be redefined in Russian law so that the country remains in line with modern European thinking. He acknowledged the possible difficulties, but said that solutions could be copied from international experience.
Russia’s anti-corruption drive has intensified over the past years.
Various politicians and state agencies have already submitted bills to order the courts to publicly disclose the names of people convicted of corruption, and obliging the relatives of convicted bribe-takers to report their property and income. Other bills proposed to charge with bribery those who take money for promises to influence some decisions in the bodies of power; currently such people can only face a much softer charge of fraud.