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No 'untouchables' in corruption fight: Putin aide

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff said on Tuesday there were no "untouchables" in Russia's fight against corruption and officials who hid their wealth abroad.

"There are no -- and can be no -- untouchables in the fight against corruption," Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov told reporters in televised remarks.

"The system is built in such a manner that we can run checks on the declarations -- the income declarations and, what is more, the spending declarations -- of almost any official," he stressed.

The powerful Putin aide added that a new draft law on corruption would cover ministers "and anyone appointed to their jobs by the Russian president or the Russian government."

The draft bill submitted by Putin for parliamentary approval will require officials to close their offshore accounts and sell all their foreign securities by July 1 if it is passed.

The law crucially does not cover property. Some deputies had proposed a bill that required the sale of property abroad before Putin submitted his watered-down proposal.

The Kremlin has never explained why property should not be covered by the law. Putin's critics argue it is because many of the Russian leader's closest allies have villas in the world's most prestigious resorts.

The issue of Russians' foreign bank accounts came to the fore last month when bankruptcy-threatened Cyprus was forced to close its second largest bank and impose huge levies on accounts containing more than 100,000 euros at the country's top financial institution.

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said on Sunday that the government did not intend to help individual Russian depositors who suffered from Cyprus's actions.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130402/no-untouchables-corruption-fight-putin-aide