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Russia's Medvedev says corruption needs to be "improper"

MOSCOW, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - Corruption in Russia needs to be made "improper" and public opinion should contribute to this way of thinking, the Russian president said in his regular video blog on the Kremlin website.

"We must create incentives for legally acceptable behavior through the help of regulatory documents, the media, as a result of work by civil society institutions. And corruption must be not only illegal, it must become improper. This is probably the most difficult thing," Dmitry Medvedev said.

Medvedev, 43, was sworn in as Russia's president on May 7, 2008. During his election campaign, he made the fight against corruption one of his top priorities. He marked the first anniversary of his inauguration by vowing to take the struggle against corruption under his personal control.

The Russian president also said Wednesday that normal living standards and rewards should be an important stimulus in the fight against corruption, adding that "normal, decent people" should work in the public sector, those "who enter institutes not to later take bribes while on state service but are motivated to serve the state."

"Only in this way can we create anti-corruption standards of behavior in our society," Medvedev said.

He also said a new system needs to be developed to check information provided by officials in their income declarations.

Medvedev said he has signed a number of decrees to increase control over the activity of state and municipal employees, as well as heads of state corporations.

Shortly after taking office, Medvedev signed a decree to set up a presidential anti-corruption council and approved a plan to deal with the problem in July 2008, proposing that special units be created in every branch of government.

In line with the plan, Russian military officers, customs officials, judges and police are required to declare their income and assets.

Medvedev's tax declaration, published on the Kremlin official website, put his 2008 income at 4.14 million rubles ($129,000 at current rates). Medvedev's wife, Svetlana, has some 135,000 rubles ($4,200) in various bank accounts.

According to a recent nationwide survey, over 50% of Russians believe that corruption is an unavoidable and permanent fact of life, with 44% blaming it on the "greed and immorality" of officials.