The Anti-Corruption Pranks

A kind of pre-New Year prank has been played on the merry officials of the Almaty region. According to our sources, the senior staff of the local anti-corruption agency is paying its employees the amount of one thousand tenge for obtaining compromising pictures taken at celebratory festivities.

On December 22, 2017, just on the eve of the New Year, the Anti-Corruption Agency of Kazakhstan (aka the “financial police”) informed the country that it had completed “monitoring of the popular social networks for the purpose of inspecting how state officials comply with the norms of the state-service ethics”.

In the press-release called “On What Not to Do If You Are a State Official”, the agency states that it had “analyzed the contents of 54 745 accounts belonging to state employees. The accounts of 2212 employees contained more than 2300 photographs, 21 videos, and 46 commentaries of the questionable nature that could induce criticism of the part of the civil society”.

In particular, they had found “photographs, video materials, texts in which state officials drink alcoholic beverages in recreational facilities, use foul language, obscene words. There are photographs of the erotic nature or showing the subject with a weapon. Some photographs demonstrate a passion for gambling and bookmaker’s bets”.

In total, according to the agency, “from the beginning of the year, 277 state officials of the central and local government bodies have been subject to a disciplinary action for the unethical conduct. Apart from that, 112 officials have been subject to a disciplinary action for using state-provided vehicles outside of business hours”.

Such efforts to restore the order in the corpus of state officials are quite laudable. There are, however, some serious overreaches of both the systemic and the individual nature.

The readiness of the state agency to accept anonymous statements is an example of the first kind.

Here is a quote: “…If you come across a violation of the law in the sphere of the state service (including tender procedure violations, unlawful terminations of employment and impositions of disciplinary actions)… you can send an anonymous statement. For the purpose of the full and thorough analysis of your information, please, state the name of the state body and the name of the official whose actions are being questioned”.

All kinds of local initiatives are examples of the second kind.

For instance, there are talks among the officials and state employees of the Almaty region that the senior staff of the local anti-corruption agency is paying its employees the amount of one thousand tenge for obtaining compromising pictures taken at celebratory festivities. And, since, during the New Year merriment, there is plenty of those, the risks of getting into hot water are quite high.

In the meantime, on the basis of the aforementioned press-release, it is easy to calculate that the overwhelming majority of the personal accounts that aroused the agency’s suspicions contained only one “questionable” photograph.

We believe such overreaches are caused not so much by the desire to better execute the official duties as by the strife to be noticed by the highest authorities. This paints in a favorable light neither the agency nor the Kazakhstan state service itself. And it can only result in this: the lower governmental positions will attract the people rejected by the business and the private agencies.

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