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Kazakhstan's anti-corruption movement to eradicate corruption through education

27 july 2014, 17:43
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Photo © Tengrinews.kz
Photo © Tengrinews.kz
Murat Abenov. Photo © Tengrinews.kz
Murat Abenov. Photo © Tengrinews.kz

A nationwide anti-corruption movement Zhanaru was initiated in Kazakhstan in the beginning of this year. Tengrinews talked to the Vice-Chariman of the movement Murat Abenov about its plans and approaches.

“We plan to conduct preventative measures and teach civil servants to resist pressure (to engage in corruption) from their superiors and from those who offer bribes to civil servants. Personally, as a person who worked in the regional administrations, Civil Service Agency, Parliament and the central government, I would say that only 5% of civil servants are prone to corruption. The remaining (95% of) civil servants are honest people who live on their salaries and work diligently,” Abenov said.

Young specialists that are only starting to work as civil servants tend to keep themselves away from any corrupt practices, he observed. “They do not want to sign any illegal documents and I think it is an absolutely right thing to do. Immunity against corruption also increase when people see higher ups held liable (for corruption),” he told Tengrinews.

Anti-corruption education of the population is among the main goals of Zhanaru. Abenov and other like-minded people who work in the anti-corruption movement on voluntary basis are planning to open an anti-corruption school. These schools will teach people to search for information about the work of governmental agencies, to recognise cases when their rights are violated, to know which public services are provided for free and how they are supposed to be provided, and to stand up for their rights. At these schools, citizens will learn how to act in real-life situations such as allocation of land and housing, interaction with road police and etc.

“We want to create cases on separate themes so that citizens can get the information, be able to file a complaint knowing which articles of the law were breached and where he or she needs to file the complaint to. We want to give the citizens instruments so that they know their own rights and where to turn to. We want everyone to know how to make civil servants work in accordance with the law. It would be beneficial for the governmental agencies that cannot control their civil servants all the time,” Abenov explained.

At the moment, everyone thinks that corruption is solely an act committed against citizens by civil servants, Abenov said, but in fact, corruption is a common enemy that affects not only people but also the state. According to the report of Transparency International, Kazakhstan ranked 140 out of 177 countries in the corruption perception index. In comparison to 2012, the country lost 7 lines. “It seems that for the population this rating does not have much meaning. But the rating is aimed at large international businesses, international financial institutions and transnational companies. International experts concluded that corruption in Kazakhstan is the second most damaging thing for business after unqualified work force. It affects attracting long-term investments and new technologies,” Murat Abenov explained.

Besides, widespread corruption increases the country risk in Kazakhstan. “High-tech industries take a lot of time to pay off. This means that no one would want to bring them here (if the risks are high), and the state innovative programs may be undermined,” he added.

Measures taken by the state to eliminate corruption through strict control and repressive measures do not yield much results any more, Abenov said, meaning the system when public authorities developed and implemented their own anti-corruption projects. This makes cooperation of the state and the population even more crucial, he said. 

“That is why we are not going to focus on exposing separate and prosecuting corrupt officials. This is what law enforcement authorities do. While we want to expose corruption niches. The law enforcement tends to focus on finding corruption cases, while loopholes in the legislation remain. We need to eliminate those loopholes,” the Vice-Chairman said.

Speaking about the patters of law enforcement authorities Abenov said that when they found out that a certain civil servant was taking bribes, they preferred to wait for him or her to get a really large amount to make the arrest. “Our social movement has a different goal. We want to carry out preventive work, find the situations where corruption is committed and suggest changes into the legislation to teach civil servants not to breach the law. We are not antagonists to the law enforcement authorities. We believe that it would be beneficial for governmental officials too if these corruption niches were closed and civil servants were not forced to use loopholes and breach the law,” he said.

Moreover, Zhanaru plans to work on examining new legislative acts. Abenov noted that even though anti-corruption expertise was made before law were adopted, it was not always made thoroughly enough.

Besides, the movement plans to work on the areas where corruption is known to occur frequently to identify causes of these manifestations, he said.

Zhanaru sees accomplishing tasks of the UN Anti-Corruption Convention ratified by Kazakhstan as its main goal.

The movement will be releasing annual reports and work towards achieving transparency in the work of governmental agencies.

Reporting by Renat Tashkenbayev, writing by Gyuzel Kamalova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina 


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