Saturday, 4 June 2011

Corruption in Russia

Corruption in Russia is a significant problem that impacts the lives of Russia’s citizens. Russia is on the 146th place out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. According to some expert estimates, the market for corruption in the country exceeded US$240 billion in 2006.

According to a poll conducted in early 2010, 15% of Russians reported to have paid a bribe in the past 12 months. The overall amount of bribes in the Russian economy skyrocketed from $33 billion to more than $400 billion per year in Putin's government, according Georgyi Satarov.

President Dmitry Medvedev has made fighting corruption one of the top agendas of his presidency, and has launched an anti-corruption campaign.
For a long time, the corruption of officials in Russia was legal: up to 18th century, government officials had lived through "кормления" ("feedings" – i.e. resources provided by those interested in their area of business).

Since 1715, accepting a bribe in any form became a crime, as officials began to receive fixed salaries. However, the number of officials under Peter the Great had increased so much that salaries came to be paid irregularly, and bribes, especially for officials of lower rank, again became their main source of income. Soon after the death of Peter, the system of "Кормление" was restored and fixed salaries only returned with Catherine II. The salaries of civil servants were paid in paper money, which in the beginning of the 19th century began to depreciate greatly in comparison with metallic money. Insecurity within the bureaucracy again led to increased corruption.

In Soviet Russia, bribery was considered a counter-revolutionary activity, and the Criminal Code in 1922 made it punishable by death.

According to a survey conducted in 2006 63% of Russians had a negative or highly negative view on taking bribes, but only 51% had the same views on giving bribes (with 37% being neutral on this issue). At the same time 38% percent had a negative or highly negative view on reporting about the cases of corruption to the police.

On 20 November 2009, the State Duma adopted a law "On general principles of public service delivery and performance of public functions", which allows officials to make the citizens pay for "public services" and "public function". According to the authors of the law it is intended to make it easier for the citizens and organizations to have the public services delivered for them; however, according to the Russian parliamentary opposition parties CPRF and LDPR, this effectively legalizes corruption.

In modern Russia, it is widely accepted that corruption is one of the main obstacles to the country's economic development. In 2006, the First Deputy of the Prosecutor General of Russia reported that according to some expert estimates, the market for corruption in the country exceeded US$240 billion.[1] According to INDEM fund, this number is even larger: in the business sphere alone in Russia, corruption volume increased from US$33 billion to US$316 billion between 2001 and 2005 (not taking into account corruption on the levels of federal-level politicians and business elites). The average bribe that Russian businessmen offer to civil servants increased from US$10,000 to US$136,000. More than half of adult population has direct experience in giving bribes.

The fact that there is legal basis, permitting civil servants to illegally enrich themselves (in Russia, for example, there recently appeared a new term, measuring how "bribe-permissive" each individual law is), through demanding bribes or through illegal privatization, or special privileges for civil servants, leads to a large difference between legal and illegal income for civil servants.

Income of civil servants engaged in government, has been growing. In 2005, their income increased 44.1%. This by far exceeds average income growth for the rest of the population, which grew by 21.3%. Comparing quality of life with official salary gives an idea about the level of illegal income. The poorest segments of society lose the most to corruption, because they have the least financial possibilities than wealthier citizens.

On 26 September 2007, Transparency International published their World corruption perception index. Russia was 143 out of 180, with the rating of 2.3. According to the head of Russian division of TI, Elena Panfilova, there is a "stabilization of corruption" tendency in Russia, where its ratings don't change (from 2.4 in 2005 or 126 out of 158, to 2.5 in 2006 or 121 out of 163). Kirill Kabanov, President of the National Anti-corruption committee of Russia, believes that there is no real fight against corruption in Russia: arrests of middle level civil servants do nothing to curb corruption, and there is no real anti-corruption policy.

The 2009 TI study showed that the global financial crisis only encouraged corruption: in the last year it grew globally by 9%. Corrupt civil servants and politicians in developing countries, including Russia, receive annually US$20-US$40 billion in bribes. According to TI, Russian corruption, as of September 2009, was on par with that in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Syria – 147th place out of 180. According to the Investigation committee of the Gosprokuratura, the number of registered bribes grew from 6700 in 2007 to 8000 in 2008. According to MVD, from January to August 2009, 10 581 cases of graft were registered – 4% more than a year prior. The number of registered bribes of large amounts (more than 150,000 roubles) grew by 13.5% to 219.

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