No 'untouchables' in Russia's fight against corruption
Moscow, Feb 22 : No one in Russia, including high-ranking officials and lawmakers, should be immune to prosecution for corruption, a top Kremlin official has said.
Kremlin administration chief Sergei Ivanov said the public expects more efficiency and professionalism from investigators in the fight against corruption that plagues Russian society.
"I have to emphasise that we do not have untouchables," Ivanov said at a meeting of the Investigative Committee Board.
"We must act decisively and pay no regard to posts and ranks," he said.
Russia was ranked 133rd out of 174 countries in the latest Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, published in December.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier said that some 50,000 corruption cases are currently being investigated in the country.
In the latest series of corruption exposes, companies controlled by the defence ministry are being probed on fraud charges that total over 13 billion rubles ($433 million).
One case led to the sacking of then defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov in November 2012.
According to Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, damages from corruption cost the state budget 21 billion rubles ($690 million) last year alone.
In 2012, authorities prosecuted 889 officials, including 244 city mayors and 114 lawmakers of various levels, and 1,159 law enforcement officials on corruption charges.
President Vladimir Putin has submitted a draft bill to the State Duma prohibiting officials from holding bank accounts abroad or owning foreign-issued shares and bonds, while the presidential anti-corruption council proposed additional sanctions against corrupt state officials.
In addition, Russia plans to spend some 3.5 million rubles ($117,000) on anti-corruption training for federal civil servants as part of the fight against corruption.