[JURIST] Russian president Dmitry Medvedev Thursday signed anti-corruption legislation [press release] passed by the country's parliament earlier this month. Medvedev has pushed anti-corruption reforms since taking office [JURIST report] in May. The new law imposes income reporting requirements on persons holding public office [RIA Novosti report], restricts gifts and makes a variety of amendments to existing anti-corruption legislation. In a late September speech to the first session of the country's new Anti-Corruption Council [JURIST report], Medvedev said:
Corruption in our country has taken on not only massive dimensions and occurs on a massive scale, it has also become commonplace and routine something that characterizes the lives of our citizens. And as you know, it is not banal bribes regardless of their size that I am referring to, but rather a serious illness which affects our economy and corrupts all of society. In this regard fundamentally lowering the level of corruption is, of course, a strategic challenge facing our country. The achievement of this goal is directly connected with the protection of property rights in Russia, strengthening the legal and judicial systems, and the expansion of free enterpriseCorruption is a long-standing problem in Russia, where in 2006 bribes totaling $240 billion were reportedly accepted by corrupt officials. In June 2008, rights group Freedom House [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] finding that corruption and repression are increasingly threatening legal rights in several former Soviet republics like Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, with Russia's court system in particular showing significant deterioration of the rule of law.