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Officials In Russia's Tatarstan Face Moment Of Truth

Tatarstan Puts Officials' Integrity To The Testi
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May 27, 2011
In an effort to crack down on corruption, authorities in the Russian republic of Tatarstan have started using lie detectors to quiz government employees about potentially corrupt activity. Produced by Gadel Galyamutdinov, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service.

In an effort to crack down on corruption, authorities in the Russian republic of Tatarstan have started using lie detectors to quiz government employees about potentially corrupt activity. Produced by Gadel Galyamutdinov, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service.

By Alsu Kurmasheva and Gadel Galyamutdinov
KAZAN -- A Kazan city official takes a seat in a nondescript office and watches with bewilderment as sensors are strapped around his chest and wrists. A book called "The Psychophysiology of Lie Detection" sits on the table beside him.

The city government of Kazan has been quietly administering lie-detector tests to bureaucrats for over a year now as part of its effort to come to grips with rampant corruption.

Oleg Novikov, head of the anticorruption department of the municipal administration, administers the tests personally and has faith in the results.

"Someone might be impulsive, someone might express their thoughts. So you can deceive, but it is impossible to deceive yourself," Novikov says.

"This machine is impassive. It doesn't care if you are a man or a woman, a senior official or an ordinary worker. It simply records the physiological reactions to the answers to my questions."

Legal Limbo

Discussions surrounding the possible use of lie detectors in the battle against corruption in Russia have been going on for years. Polygraph tests are commonly used by police and other law enforcement agencies for screening new hires.

The national reform of the police that was pushed through by President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this year includes provisions for mandatory lie-detector testing throughout the Interior Ministry, and earlier this month Medvedev dismissed six high-ranking ministry officials, reportedly for failing their tests. Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev has told journalists that he himself passed such an examination.

Oleg Novikov tests Kazan official Roman Fatkhutdinov.

Private companies also use them routinely.

The Moscow city government announced earlier this month that it is also considering mandatory testing for all public officials.

But efforts to put other state bureaucrats to the test have never really gotten off the ground. A draft law mandating polygraph examinations for senior officials was presented in the Duma in 2009, but has not been passed.

"In Russia, despite the quite frequent use of lie detectors, its legal status is not regulated in any way," says human rights activist Pavel Chikov, who heads the Agora center in Kazan. "There is not one law that describes and regulates this process or establishes its legal status or establishes the legal weight of the conclusions of the polygraphist."

'A Two-Way Street'

Nonetheless, the program in Tatarstan's capital continues apace, even though the key question of mandatory versus voluntary remains very much up in the air.

Novikov tells RFE/RL that dozens of officials have been dismissed because of failed tests. A former deputy head of the city Land Committee and a former head of the Property Committee are currently under criminal investigation.

Novikov says the Kazan polygraph tests are not mandatory, but that his department asks officials to submit to them voluntarily when they come under suspicion. "When the rumors started that this kind of checking would be done, of course, everyone was skeptical, thinking it was just some sort of threat," he says.

"And when they really set up the department and bought the equipment and began testing people, there was some fear and dissatisfaction among the employees," he continues. "A lot of people refused -- since it is a voluntary procedure -- but each agency has its own rules of the game and, naturally, everyone has to take them into account."
The tests are "just another short-term public-relations project aimed at the public, to boost the appearance of legitimacy of the authorities in the eyes of the public," one activist says.


He adds, however, that bribery is a two-way street, a phenomenon that is far broader than just some corrupt officials, and that ordinary people are also to blame.

"Parents are willing to give everything to improve the fate of their child, to get them into a good kindergarten, school. As far as medical care is concerned, everyone is ready to show their gratitude to a doctor for good attention. That is considered obligatory, of course," Novikov says. "The only consequence for this kind of violation on the part of an official is a simple warning."

More Than Just PR?

Rights activist Chikov says the lie detector is just one of the tools available to fight corruption. He fears the Kazan government's program is more show than substance:

"Managers, as a rule, know who among their workers has clean hands. The managers very often have connections with the workers that take bribes," Chikov says, which is why he's afraid the tests are "just another short-term public-relations project aimed at the public, to boost the appearance of legitimacy of the authorities in the eyes of the public. It is nothing more than that and has nothing to do with combating corruption."

Having passed his test, Roman Fatkhutdinov, the deputy head of an office in the Kazan administration, disentangles himself from the polygraph's sensors and pats down his neat, white shirt.

"It was OK. The polygraphists didn't smile," he says. "I think this is necessary. It is unpleasant -- I felt that myself. But it should be done."

RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson contributed to this report
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
May 30, 2011 20:34
Russia should do it first to Russians, including influx of beuraucrats
And occupiers rom Russia in non-Russian authonomies and invade
Territories - like Moldova, Caucasus, Georgia and even East Ukraine.
Just Medvedev's interrior ministry security, as use in West poligraphs,
Mean nothing, as Moscow "Capital" security future testing, presumed.

In USSR Moscow was testing-deporting unreliable residents regularly.
Russian "intelligence" and Interrior ministry were regularly tested - too.
Just a newer tool - poligraph. But why Kasan? - A still alive nationality?
Test another tool to seek "corruption" among local "How Do You Do"?
Rashka said: "gratitude to a doctor... ...simple warning" - smart, dood!

They got even a Russified with a Tatar name, Roman(ov)-Fatkhutdinov,
To support the testings: "poligraphist didn't smile" - that is even in itself
Non-Russian thanks - Russia usually mock them, even without a word.
There were once "supporting" USSR Hrutchev's plunder, as loyal serfs.
After new year they criminalized traditional miscalenious accounts use.

Combined with "Anti-Stalin" lies and purges, they replaced most of men
In all positions and jobs just for being non-Russians or better Russians
And put in their place imperial resurectors - Raska-Prashka ethnicity evil
And plundered all population - later advising USA to play "Rostinkovsky".
In Response

by: Venera from: Boston
June 11, 2011 16:13
To Konstantin. "A still alive nationality?....Russia usually mock them, even without a word" .. That's a very impudent statement of yours. But talking low of other nationalities - is one of the most common faults of Russians. Not all have this kind of sin, but many do..
Tatarstan is one of the most prosperous regions of Russia. (With Tatars being highly competitive, ambitious, business-oriented, smart and wit people on Earth. Keeping pride in their nationality (Tatar) and living with other folks (120 ethnical groups in Kazan present) for centuries, molded Tatarsinto one of the most friendly get-along nationalities, which gives opportunities for other- cultures-related businesses and keeps peace in the regions highly inhabited by Tatars.
Speaking about corruption, it is pretty high. (For ex. to get your child accepted to the regular kindergarden costs in a bribe-market in Kazan about $900 (yes, nine hundred dollars, To have a child-delivery (in a regular hospital) with a Better attention from the doctor to the mom costs about the same).
People of every level go through that (give bribes). There's no other way right now...System is not working properly.
Something should be definately done. The worst thing is when moral being corrupted, when there's no hope left for equal opportunities.
And if this is the first step, let it be....
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 12, 2011 20:46
"A still a nationality?" ...Russia usually mock them..." as I said,
Is clear from my post - explain that Russia "talking low" about others!
Now you turn it on me? That is more than impudence, Venera - mad!
A havier artillery that Russia using on me now? Thanks for honor!

"King David", probably Russian-Osetin of Boldyrev, perverting,
Impudently, words - now are you, "Venera" - introverting,
Probably mediocre Russians activated more creative
Lavrushas- Lazarushas - out of scared and broken,
Children of purged once by Russia - lying smartys.

Very smart, Venera! Even if Lavrentiy and Lazar did
Concive a baby, you - it would be too cleaver deed.
It would take Joseph Stalin himself to un-explain it,
To remind West not me, but Russia said it - again?

Speaking about corruption, but of coarse - as I said,
In former USSR (now in CIS) Russians as occupier
Still pressure and blockade - it was life there - "bad"
By doing of Russia that is corrupted, making others
Use shearing with each-other non-taxable life-favors.

Are you noting about non-Russian and Tatar's pride?
Smart again! Look at my posts - Tatar poet story here,
On Tatar forum and do not introvert again what I write!
"Something should be definately done"? Yes Venera?
- For ethnic Russians "equal opportunities" - expand?

Tatars are advanced enough, it is Russia that devolve
Them for several centuries. Many of them are the West,
As are Franks, thay came as Western Tatars to Europe.
Impudence Lavrenisized-Lazarisized is yours, Venera...

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
May 31, 2011 10:55
PS:

I would be very distrusfull of result of such poligraph test,
because the questions they ask are more important than the detecting
by poligraph lie, or truth.

Look at the picture with a question:
"How do you feel, if in some cases it is forgiveable if a bureaucrat take a bribe?"
(How would feel a born in USSR, country of Russian "blat" (mutual favors),
a Tatar that since childhood also heared mocks about Tatar hospitality
and national hollidays, when mutual presents and invitations to the
parties and "Sabantuys" were customary?)

The questions should be:
As a government employee, did you ever took or gave a strait bribe in
money or valuable objects?
As a government employee, after (such and such) order, not to take
or give during "Sabantuy" or any other ocasion gifts more valuable than traditional "tubiteyka", did you comply with the order?
Did you give or take during such ocasions gifts, $... or more in value?
And so on...

Simply, the interviewed must be prepared to contest of the question
and the question that follows must be direct and concret...

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