Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov has unveiled a two-year plan for fighting crime and corruption in Russia. Addressing a meeting of the cabinet yesterday, Primakov said: “We will never get out of our sorry situation if we don’t step up the fight against crime and corruption.” Russia’s law enforcement agencies, he continued, need to focus on the misappropriation of state property connected with the accelerated bankruptcy of enterprises, as well as on tax-evasion schemes and the “squandering of state resources.” Tax evasion, Primakov noted, “is beginning to snowball” and Russia’s taxpayers are exploiting legal loopholes to avoid tax payments (see yesterday’s Monitor). The prime minister gave a group of government ministries and agencies–including the state tax services, the state customs committee and the Finance Ministry–two weeks to come up with ways to plug these loopholes. While the new clean-up campaign should focus on “economic crimes,” Primakov said, it should not ignore the problem of organized crime. Addressing the same cabinet meeting, Interior Ministry Sergei Stepashin said that ties between organized crime and state officials are growing, and that criminals are fielding more and more candidates in elections (Russia agencies, January 21).
President Boris Yeltsin has announced more than a half a dozen campaigns against crime and corruption since 1992, with few results. There is little reason to think that Primakov will have better luck at uprooting these problems. They seem endemic to Russia’s political and economic system.
BEREZOVSKY ACCUSED OF SPYING ON YELTSIN FAMILY, TRYING TO SET UP PRIVATE KGB.