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Moscow Times
June 4, 2009
More People Are Paying Bribes, Says New Survey
By Nikolaus von Twickel / The Moscow Times

The number of Russians who pay bribes is rising, and an overwhelming majority think that it is useless to complain, according to a survey released Wednesday.

The survey by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International found that 29 percent of respondents said they or a member of their household had paid a bribe in the past 12 months, up from 17 percent in 2007 and more than double the global average of 13 percent.

The Global Corruption Barometer also found that 86 percent of respondents opted not to complain after giving a bribe, with 63 percent explaining that speaking up was useless.

On a more positive note, the number of Russians approving of the government's efforts to fight corruption has risen. A total of 21 percent of respondents said government action against corruption is effective, a significant increase over 2007, when only 12 percent agreed.

"Maybe this is a consequence of President Dmitry Medvedev's policies," Yelena Panfilova, the head of Transparency's Russian branch, told reporters Wednesday.

Since taking office more than a year ago, Medvedev has made fighting corruption a central theme of his policies and has initiated a host of measures.

Yet independent analysts have expressed doubt that the measures will pay off quickly. Panfilova echoed this by saying she expected no significant drop in corruption levels in the next few years.

"We have built a corruption vertical for so long. This cannot be undone in a short time," she said in a nod to the concept of the "power vertical" formed under the eight-year presidency of Medvedev's predecessor, Vladimir Putin.

The Global Corruption Barometer is based on responses from more than 73,000 people in 69 countries. It found that corruption is endemic in other post-Soviet countries, with 46 percent of Azeris and 43 percent of Armenians saying they paid a bribe during the last 12 months.

While Russia ranks on par with post-Soviet countries like Mongolia (32 percent) and Moldova (28 percent), Georgia stood out, with only 2 percent claiming to have paid a bribe. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has waged a massive anti-corruption campaign since taking office in 2004.

Globally, Russia is ranked in the 147th position, with Bangladesh, Kenya and Syria, in Transparency's corruption index released every fall.

The latest survey was conducted last November by polling firm Gallup, which interviewed 1,500 Russian citizens. The margin of error was 4 percentage points.