MOSCOW, October 17 (RIA Novosti)
Russia Draws up Ethical Code of Online Behavior for Officials
The State Duma has started considering a draft ethical code for state officials, to regulate their activity on blogs and social networking websites.
The issue resurfaced following a recent Internet scandal caused by a tweet by the spokesperson of the Federal Youth Affairs Agency, Anna Biryukova, about having paid a bribe to a traffic policeman. Biryukova was forced to resign as a result.
The law’s authors believe that obscene language and offensive phrases used by individual state officials harm the image of the entire government.
Over the next two weeks, experts from universities including Moscow University, the Presidential Academy of Public Administration, and the Higher School of Economics will develop the rules that officials will have to follow when posting anything online. Carefully selected expressions will then be discussed and approved by focus groups. The enforcement of these new rules will require special Internet monitoring software.
The draft was drawn up by a group of lawmakers led by A Just Russia’s Alexander Ageyev, first deputy head of the Duma committee on constitutional law.
“I have already said this, but I will say again that someone who joins the civil service has to watch their behavior from that point on because they now represent the government. Otherwise, it risks losing whatever public respect it still enjoys,” he said.
Any official violating the new code will be reprimanded. A repeat violation would mean dismissal.
Robert Shlegel, first deputy head of the Duma committee on information policy, warned that care should be taken in developing and enforcing the code of conduct.
“Any civil servant or member of parliament should always bear in mind that they can no longer afford to speak as freely as the man in the street,” he said. “But political campaigning is also a reality and this code will open up opportunities for abuse. An online account may not in fact have anything to do with its alleged owner. This is a difficult task from a legal perspective. Enforcement will require solid proof. This is one weakness of this initiative.”
One of the most high-profile scandals involving a high-ranking official using obscene language online broke out when Russian deputy prime minister and former ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin insulted Madonna for her support for the jailed members of the punk band Pussy Riot with his tweet: With age, every former slut tries to lecture everyone on morality, especially during overseas tours. One Twitter user commented that the pop star was simply talking about freedom, while it is us who are being “lectured” on a daily basis by government officials on federal channels.
Putin Fires Senior Police Officials, Gives Interior Minister Carte Blanche
President Vladimir Putin signed an order replacing a group of senior police officials on Tuesday. Experts say the reshuffle will strengthen the position of Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, who was responsible for the Moscow police until May this year.
Putin fired Major General Alexander Ivanin, head of the special purpose center at the ministry’s emergency response and aviation force, who inflicted light and moderate injuries on two spetsnaz commanders last spring. A criminal case is being launched to investigate the incident.
The president also dismissed Colonel Mikhail Mindzayev, head of the Interior Ministry Department for the Nenets Autonomous Area, and approved several new appointments.
Major General Felix Vasilkov was appointed Deputy Head of the Ministry’s Main Department of Economic Security and Corruption. General Oleg Konovalov will fill the post of deputy director of the bureau coordinating efforts against serious and organized crime in the CIS. Colonel Igor Romashkin was made Deputy Head of the Ministry’s Main Department for the North Caucasus Federal District, and Vitaly Shulik became Head of the Ministry’s Directorate of Investigation Information.
Lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, a member of the ministry’s Public Council and head of the Public Chamber’s commission on public safety and cooperation with judicial and law-enforcement bodies, said: “Kolokoltsev has done a great deal to strengthen the law-enforcement bodies and improve their operation. He needs qualified personnel and I hope that he can rely on the new appointees.”
Kucherena argues that Kolokoltsev only “wants to asses the Ministry’s human potential. He needs professionals, which is why he has ordered the reassessment of the Ministry’s personnel. People who have committed crimes clearly have no place in the Ministry.”
However, former State Duma Deputy Gennady Gudkov believes that Kolokoltsev is weeding out Rashid Nurgaliyev’s team. “Unlike Nurgaliyev, Kolokoltsev can influence personnel policy, which is why I think it was he who initiated the reshuffle,” Gudkov said. “Officially, appointments are made by the president, but it looks as if Kolokoltsev has been given carte blanche on personnel policy.”
“Unfortunately, there are numerous problems at the Ministry which a reshuffle will not resolve. The situation has only improved very slightly since Kolokoltsev assumed his post. The crime rate within the police is very high, and not only because of a lack of proper oversight, but mostly because the principle of serving the law has been replaced with the principle of serving the boss,” Gudkov said. “Double standards are another widespread curse. In this situation, police officers relax their service efforts in order to pay more attention to their personal interests. Too many police officers still carry on a business, and quite successfully, instead of serving the law.”
According to a poll held by the Levada Center last summer, only 18% of respondents believe that the Russian police “deserves to be trusted,” whereas 43% said that the police are “not quite” worthy of trust.
Rogozin Gets Some Bad Advice
Alexander Galkevich, the former general director of satellite company Gonets, took his idea of a joint Russian-Chinese venture adding the Gonets-D1M frequencies used by the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) to those used in NG-1 standard communications to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
The Defense Ministry and the Federal Space Agency were quick to veto his initiative. And Kommersant has learned that Galkevich overstepped his remit in even making the suggestion.
The NG-1 communications standard is the technology for wireless broadband access to low population density areas, known internationally as McWiLL (Multi-carrier Wireless internet Local Loop). It was developed by the Indian company Vavasi and the equipment is manufactured by China’s Xinwei.
A government source told Kommersant that Galkevich wrote to Rogozin last August, detailing his vision of a global low-orbit space internet system, to be jointly developed by Xinwei and Russia’s National Institute of Radio and Info-Communications Technology. He was suggesting setting up a joint Russian-Chinese company using the communications satellite system currently used by the SVR, the FSB, the GRU, the Navy and the FSB’s combined Arctic unit. In his letter he described himself as “the general designer of a multifunctional space system for personal satellite communications and data transmission.”
On September 11, Nikolai Arkhipov, head of the defense industry department, passed Galkevich’s proposal to the Russian Space Agency, the Defense Ministry and the Communications Ministry. It took those agencies a month to consider it.
The first rejection came from the Defense Ministry. “Early in October, General Staff head General Nikolai Makarov vetoed the project, saying the joint use of Gonets frequencies with the Chinese could not guarantee the security of transmitted data,” the source said.
The Russian Space Agency was next to decline. “We have considered the opinions of the interested parties and have decided against such a Russian-Chinese project,” a source at the Space Agency said.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Galkevich’s status as a general designer has not yet been formalized. Following the order to appoint him general designer, he was supposed to set out applicable regulations. But, according to Kommersant’s source, this never happened. His position has turned out to be, in effect, illegitimate.
Alexander Galkevich and his son Maxim were leading figures in a high-profile case: in August 2012 the Basmanny court ruled against their receiving “golden parachutes.” The Interior Ministry’s section responsible for secret sites has also expressed an interest in Galkevich’s operations during his time as head of Gonets, over four separate incidents.
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The main event of the third day of the 11th meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Sochi was the closing session with President Vladimir Putin. The atmosphere was calm and open, despite the current political tensions and the Russia-West confrontation. The Russian president said that it corresponded to the spirit of the Valdai Club.