22 July 2019, Monday, 18:09
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Lukashenka’s Vertical Sinking In Corruption

The struggle against bribe takers is just dust in the eyes.

The trials against corrupt officials in Belarus are constantly going on, the authorities are not afraid to send officials of the highest rank to the dock, thinking that they are strengthening their image with such uncompromising stance. Experts, however, believe that the growing number of corruption cases is increasingly undermining this image, writes ng.ru.

Yesterday it became known that the trial of the former director of “Belorusneft-Grodnooblnefteprodukt” ended with a sentence of 4.5 years of a penal colony under the conditions of a strict regime with confiscation of property. This was reported by the press-center of the Hrodna regional court. He took bribes and “abused official power”, appropriating building materials belonging to the enterprise.

Last week another trial began there - against the former aide to Lukashenka for the Hrodna region Siarhei Rauniyka. He was detained a year ago in the act of extortion and receiving a bribe in the amount of $ 200 thousand.

Earlier this week, the Investigatory Committee announced the arrest of Chairman of the Salihorsk district executive committee Aleh Paskrobka over a suspicion of corruption. A criminal case was initiated against the official on the fact of exceeding official powery. Later, in the Main Directorate for Combating Economic Crimes of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they clarified that the official took bribes in a “sophisticated way” back at the previous place of work, being the deputy minister of housing and communal services.

True, they have not yet explained what this “sophistication” was about - “in the interests of the investigation.” He received bribes for “lobbying the interests of a foreign commercial structure on housing and communal services.” The amounts so far seem insignificant - 2 thousand euros. This is not comparable with the scale of the crime of which Siarhei Sivadzedau, Director General of Beltelecom RUE, is accused. He was detained in early May for a bribe from a Russian businessman in the amount of 15 thousand euros. During the search, 470 thousand dollars were found, which he also received in the form of a bribe on other episodes.

The funny situation with the head of Salihorsk is that this is the second mayor in a row dismissed for taking bribes. The previous head of the district, Aliaksandr Rymasheuski, was detained while receiving a bribe, and in December 2017 the court of the Minsk region sentenced him to eight years of imprisonment in a penal colony with confiscation of property. The court also forbade him to hold senior positions for five years. “As for Salihorsk, you know what happened to the head there. Therefore, you will have to raise the image of power in the Salihorsk region,” Lukashenka instructed Aleh Paskrobka, appointing him to the post. The official did not succeed in raising the image of power.

Commenting on the origins of such a large-scale corruption in Belarus, experts name the main reason - an unlawful state and corruption-provoking legislation. In the legislation there are very few norms of direct action, the majority of decisions are left to the officials. However, according to many lawyers, this is also not accidental. To give an official or an equivalent to a state-owned enterprise director in Belarus the opportunity to steal and then compromise them is one of the effective ways to make them obedient and manageable.

Paradoxically, the authorities declare the fight against corruption a priority of their policies. “No forgiveness. Fur will fly from those do this, and maybe giblets, too. There will be no forgiveness for this, it will surely lead to the collapse of the country,” Aliaksandr Lukashenka said on this occasion.

This spring, the international structure of the Council of Europe Anti-Corruption Group of States (GRECO) doubted the seriousness of the anti-corruption intentions of Belarus. The organization stated that Belarus does not comply with the anti-corruption standards. They reported that the authorities do not follow the recommendations on combating corruption (in particular, only 4 out of 24 have been implemented) and do not allow to publish a country report on this topic. According to GRECO, the main increase in corruption is accounted for by the authorities and the state-owned enterprises sector. The reason is including the unlimited powers of Lukashenka in the sphere of legislative and executive power at the central and local levels, as well as control over the judicial system, law-enforcement practice and procedural privileges.

At the same time, local observers also note the somewhat fake nature of the fight against corruption. The fact is that often yesterday's defendants get out of prison ahead of schedule and even occupy leading positions. For example, the Salihorsk mayor Aliaksandr Rymasheuski showed up at a farm in the Brest region, where he is the director, six months after being sentenced. Experts warn that soon such a showy, and not a real fight against corruption can play a cruel joke with the authorities. When even an average person notices that there is a lot of window dressing, it will be possible to forget about restoring the image of the authorities.