Estonian auditor calls for Russia to end international audit presidency

Auditor General Janar Holm at a massive protest in support of Ukraine in Tallinn's Freedom Square. February 26, 2022.
Auditor General Janar Holm at a massive protest in support of Ukraine in Tallinn's Freedom Square. February 26, 2022. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Due to the war that Russia has started against Ukraine, the Russian Chamber of Accounts cannot continue its current presidency of the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI) and should either immediately hand it off to its successor, Brazil, or find some other way to discontinue its presidency, Estonian Auditor General Janar Holm said on Wednesday.

Russia's current presidency of INTOSAI is slated to end this fall, when the triennially rotating position is scheduled to be handed over to the supreme audit institution of Brazil, according to a National Audit Office press release.

In a letter to his colleague on Tuesday, however, Holm has appealed to Russian Chamber of Accounts Chairman Alexei Kudrin directly to do the right thing and hand off the presidency of the intergovernmental organization early.

"I hope that when looking into your soul, you will feel that the only right choice is to hand over the INTOSAI presidency to the next presidency, Brazil, without waiting for the official end of the term in fall, or find some other way to discontinue your chairmanship," Holm said. "I believe that you very well understand that this step is inevitable in order to prevent any further polarization of INTOSAI membership and tensions that Russia's war against Ukraine has created."

The role of the INTOSAI president is to unite its members, the Estonian auditor general stressed, adding that Russia can no longer continue chairing the organization after waging war against Ukraine as this is not in line with its values.

Kudrin, a well-known economist, served as minister of finance of the Russian Federation from 2000-2011, in which time he attempted to initiate some Western economic reforms in Russia.

"People on both sides are losing their lives because of the decision made by the president of Russia, whose activities have unfortunately destroyed for years even the hope of the Russian economy you were attempting to build up years ago when you were the minister of finance and initiated economic reforms," Holm said.

The Estonian auditor general reminded his Russian colleague of INTOSAI's motto — "Experientia mutua omnibus prodest," or "Mutual experience benefits all — and said that in the current situation, Russia and its leaders are doing the exact opposite, and offering Ukraine, Europe and the world a terrible experience in which nobody will win and everyone will lose. "And the Russian people and state themselves will be the main losers," he stressed.

"Unlike ordinary people in Russia who are threatened with detention or treason for protesting against war, you, using your high authority and status, have the possibility to bring this awareness to the leaders of your country," Holm concluded his appeal to Kudrin.

The supreme audit institutions of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Tuesday announced that they would be suspending all cooperation with the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation due to Russia's war against Ukraine.

This move is among many steps being taken across several spheres to restrict or suspend cooperation with Russian counterparts and partners at the business, organizational, state and international levels.

The International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions comprises the supreme audit institutions of 196 states, the European Court of Auditors, and five associate members.

INTOSAI is an independent, non-political and non-governmental organization which was established as a permanent institution to exchange ideas and experiences in the field of external audit between the world's supreme audit institutions. The organization has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the UN.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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