President Boris Yeltsin and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov have submitted their income and property declarations to the State Tax Inspectorate, in accordance with presidential decree no. 484 of May 15, 1997, and made them available to selected newspapers. The declarations show these men to have very modest incomes, although some questions about their earnings remain unresolved. (Rossiiskie vesti, 31 May; Interfax, June 4; Kommersant-daily, June 5)
Nemtsov’s income last year was 92.5 million rubles ($16,000), and in the first five months of 1997 he received 435 million rubles in royalties for his book entitled "The Provincial," on which he paid 152 million rubles in taxes. The government provides him with a four-room apartment in Moscow. In Nizhny Novgorod Nemtsov owns a two-room apartment and 1,000 square meters of land with an estimated value of 6 million rubles. He has a VAZ-21061 car purchased in 1992; and a 7.6 million ruble bank deposit. His wife, Raisa holds 1.16 million rubles in a bank account and earned 1.8 million rubles last year in her job as a librarian. (Nemtsov’s income over the past year seems to exceed considerably the sums in his declared bank deposits.)
Kommersant-daily quickly established that the bulk of Nemtsov’s modest earnings came from foreign sources. Nemtsov earned only 40 million rubles in 1996 as a governor: the remaining 52 million came in fees for "lectures" in Russia and abroad. The reliance on lecture income was not mentioned in his income declaration, but was admitted by his press secretary. The paper was told by Nemtsov’s publisher that most of the 435 million rubles income which Nemtsov reports from sales of his book comes from advance payments from foreign publishers, since so far only 25,000 copies were printed in Russia (at a price of 14,000 rubles per copy).
Yeltsin’s declaration revealed that he earned 244 million rubles ($42,200) in 1996, the bulk of it presumably coming from book royalties. He owns a 1995 BMW and real estate worth 1,189 million rubles, in the form of a four hectare land plot and cottage near Moscow. The government provides him with a 323.4 square meter apartment, which he shares with his wife and his younger daughter Tatyana Dyachenko (six people in all).
The May decree on income declaration came in the wake of scandalous revelations concerning corruption among high officials, and is part of a political battle for the moral high ground between the president and the Duma. Last summer saw the Duma level further accusations at some Russian generals for dacha-building, while earlier this year investigative journalist Aleksandr Minkin discovered that Anatoly Chubais had earned $278,000 during the three months that he served as presidential campaign manager in 1996. (Novaya gazeta, January 13)
The idea of income declarations for state officials was first introduced in a March 1992 presidential decree, but the measure was never put into effect. The Duma has been trying to mount its own investigation of official corruption: a year ago it passed a Law on Fighting Corruption, but the measure was vetoed by Yeltsin. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 17) On April 23 the Duma passed on second reading a new anti-corruption law that included a requirement on income declaration for civil servants. It is not clear how many officials will be required to declare their incomes under the Yeltsin decree, nor whether they will be obliged to report the income of their close relatives, as the Duma draft bill required.
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