The struggle against corruption is to receive new legal reinforcement
By Vasily Khmelevsky
Belarus introduces a mechanism of more detailed control over the income and property of civil servants holding responsible positions, and their relatives
This was noted by Alexander Lukashenko at a session tackling the improvements of legislation against corruption. “People should know how officials and their relatives live, where their money and property come from,” underlined the President. “This is, in my opinion, a normal international practice.”
Plans have been made to confiscate the property of a government official if its cost clearly exceeds the income earned from legitimate sources. “If it is determined that a government official lives beyond his means, then that part of the property which was obtained in an unfair way is subject to seizure,” insisted the President.
Other proposed measures include the restriction of the right to pensions for civil servants and military personnel accused of grave and very grave corruption and other crimes. Moreover, there are proposals to ban people with a corruption related crime record from taking up government positions.
The President stressed that highly efficient legislation is one of the cornerstones of the national anti-corruption system. The President believes that legislation in this area should take into account both the experience of domestic law enforcement and the best international practices.
“Having read these documents, I wondered if our anti-corruption legislation is comprehensive and efficient enough?,” said the Head of State. “I would not like to revisit this issue, for example, in a month, and have put a question regarding reinforcement through the adoption of additional measures and rules.”
“At the end of last year, we decided which adjustments we needed to introduce to the existing anti-corruption legislation. The General Prosecutor’s Office, in conjunction with other bodies, prepared a draft law and decree of the Head of State,” noted the President. “Today, we must analyse how effectively the innovations in these drafts laws can ‘undermine’ the interest in committing corruption offences.”
It’s not the first discussion of efficient ways to confront this social ill. “I think there is no need to explain how dangerous corruption is. It is right to be considered one of the biggest threats to national security,” said Mr. Lukashenko. In his view, corruption can destroy any, even the most perfect system — social or economic. The disproportion of income of corrupt and law-abiding people can lead to social protests.
According to him, it’s important to understand that corruption is not only about bribes, something everybody knows about. Corruption schemes are numerous and sophisticated. They are detected in various walks of life and constantly adapt to the changing environment.
The President believes that this calls for an efficient response to all corruption-related risks and threats. “I believe that we are well-positioned to root out the craving for illegal gain and to create conditions when lovers of easy money will stop to think whether the game is worth risk,” emphasised Mr. Lukashenko.
According to Mr. Lukashenko, the most terrible thing is when high-level officials are involved in corruption activities. In this case, any efforts to fight corruption will look ridiculous in the eyes of the people.
The Head of State stressed that the issues to strengthen the fight against corruption have not been triggered by the forthcoming election campaign as some say in the Internet. “There is no need for me to draw attention to this matter,” noted the President.
“I require one thing — do not steal from the state. If you try to steal from your people, do not wait for mercy. It’s inacceptable to use one’s own post in order to promote the interests of some thieves around us,” underlined Mr. Lukashenko.
The President reminded the participants of the meeting about the consequences of rampant corruption in some countries, including neighbouring Ukraine. According to the Head of State, if the authorities do not fight this crime efficiently, they will become inappropriate for the people, just as it was before the first presidential elections in Belarus.
Mr. Lukashenko gave an instruction to prepare a unified anti-corruption draft bill taking into account all amendments and to submit it for public consideration. “By speaking about this issue at this level I wanted to emphasise the necessity to launch a serious process to reform anti-corruption legislation,” he noted. “It is essential to work out a comprehensive bill taking into account all additions and to publish it in the media. We need to study all proposals of people, make certain amendments to make this legal document the most comprehensive, objective and adequate bill to date.”
The President also urged them to consider measures to inform people about the amendments in the anti-corruption law. Nevertheless, Mr. Lukashenko also reminded that ignorance of laws does not release one from responsibility.