(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 29, 2013)
The Defense Ministry’s opacity makes it difficult to determine whether anti-corruption reforms are being carried out, Transparency International said in a report released on Tuesday in which it gave Russia a “D-” grade on an A to F corruption index.
The rating put Russia on par with Turkey, Belarus, and China, and far behind Australia and Germany, the only countries to receive an “A” grade in the index.
Nearly half of the defense budget’s spending is classified, and there is “almost no external control” over the intelligence services, making it difficult to measure the results of a reform plan adopted by the Defense Ministry in May 2010, the report said.
The authors found plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the anti-corruption drive’s success.
While Parliament and defense committees have de jure oversight of the budget, there are doubts about whether they actually control spending. Government statements about defense spending are seen as coming through interviews with military officials, rather than publicly available documents.
Furthermore, the report found no evidence of people assigned to fight corruption in the field, parliamentary oversight of several state-owned arms companies, or protection of whistle-blowers.
In a rare compliment, the report offered tepid praise for the ministry’s non-secret spending, which the Transparency said was conducted with “relative transparency.”
Berlin-based NGO heralded the index as the first global analysis of corruption risk in defense establishments worldwide.