#19 - JRL 7246
July 11, 2003
A PORTRAIT OF CORRUPTION IN RUSSIA
A disheartening conclusion: everybody takes bribes!
Author: Marina Grigorian
[from WPS Monitoring Agency, www.wps.ru/e_index.html]
TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL IS COMPLETING ANOTHER STUDY OF CORRUPTION LEVELS ACROSS RUSSIA'S REGIONS. IT REVEALS WHICH REGIONS ARE MOST AFFLICTED WITH CORRUPTION. THE MOST CORRUPT REGIONS IN RUSSIA, ACCORDING TO THIS STUDY, INCLUDE THE ALTAI TERRITORY, THE VOLGOGRAD REGION, AND THE CITY OF MOSCOW.
Transparency International is completing another study of corruption levels across Russia's regions.
The Transparency International anti-corruption research center and the InDem Foundation have been working on this joint project since January 2002, with financial support from the Open Society Institute and the assistance of the Monitoring.Ru polling agency. Many of the methods being used have been developed especially for such a large- scale project; this study of corruption is unprecedented in terms of the number of regions covered and the number of respondents. It has included 5,666 ordinary citizens and 1,838 business owners (medium and small business) in 40 regions of Russia.
Elena Chirkova, coordinator of the Measuring Corruption program at Transparency International: "The project itself took a year, and now we are processing and analyzing the results. Essentially, the results of a study covering 40 regions will provide us with a kind of cross-section of the general situation. As for how the regions were chosen for this stage of the program - a special expert group identified the most representative regions in terms of economic, social, cultural, and other factors."
ANOTHER "SOUTHERN BELT"
So what do the tables of results compiled over 18 months tell us?
Firstly, they reveal which regions of Russia are most afflicted with corruption. Here the researchers themselves note that there is some disproportion between practice and general opinion. Thus, according to respondent opinions, the most corrupt regions are the Krasnodar territory, the Saratov region, Udmurtia, Primorye, and Karelia; the least corrupt are Bashkortostan, the Arkhangelsk region, the Kemerovo region, the Tyumen region, and the Yaroslav region. But according to the more objective figures for corrupt practices, the picture is as follows: the most corrupt are the Moscow region, the Nizhnii Novgorod region, the Saratov region, the city of Moscow, the Chelyabinsk region, and the city of St. Petersburg; the least corrupt are Karelia, the Yaroslav region, the Tyumen region, the Arkhangelsk region, and the Omsk region. Overall, the researchers have distinguished a "southern belt" of high corruption across the map of Russia, stretching from the Rostov region to the Trans-Volga area.
Now let's turn to the characteristics of business corruption, in terms of three aspects. It isn't hard to see that they are interconnected: the higher the level of one aspect - administrative corruption, for example - the higher the level of the two others: the takeover of business and the takeover of government. However, there are exceptions: administrative corruption flourishes in Bashkortostan, but business owners there are relatively disinclined to take over government. But the reverse holds true in the Tula region: business is actively "taking over" government, while extortion by bureaucrats and their drive to control the economy are clearly lagging behind.
The figures for corruption in daily life and in business are also interesting. Bribe-taking from ordinary citizens in the course of resolving private difficulties is most widespread in th Pskov region and the Rostov region; while in Moscow, the Tula region, and the Kemerovo region bribe demands are mostly directed at business owners. In some regions, ordinary citizens and businesspeople are equally affected by bribe demands: these include the Moscow region, St. Petersburg, and the Saratov region.
HOW MUCH IS PAID IN BRIBES
How large is the average bribe, and how much do ordinary citizens and business owners pay in bribes each year?
The proportion of citizens who have paid a bribe at least once is highest in the Stavropol territory - followed by Bashkortostan, the Moscow region, the Rostov region, and the Krasnodar territory.
Based on the average number of bribes paid by citizens to state officials each year, the Voronezh region leads with 3,256 - followed by the Tver region, the Perm region, the Rostov region, and the Pskov region, all with similar figures. The fewest bribes are paid by residents of the Kemerovo region and the Krasnoyarsk territory.
In terms of the total value of bribes paid by citizens each year, the picture is as follows: the Tambov region leads (23.007 billion rubles), followed by the city of Moscow (22.383 billion rubles). Last on the list are Karelia (317 million rubles) and the Novgorod region (376 million rubles).
In business corruption, the Saratov region, the Kemerovo region, and the Chelyabinsk region have the highest average number of bribes per year; lowest in this category are the Amur region, the Perm region (though it is one of the highest for annual volumes of bribes paid in daily life), and the Khabarovsk region. The average size of a bribe is greatest in the Tula region (254,630 rubles). The Khabarovsk and Nizhnii Novgorod regions are substantially behind Tula, but still ahead of others; so is the city of Moscow (155,810 rubles). The lowest figures are recorded in the Omsk region, the Pskov region, and the Tver region - from 1,116 rubles to 2,580 rubles. But in terms of total annual bribe volume, Moscow has outstripped all the others: 229.79 billion rubles. Compared to Moscow, the other figures simply seem pathetic - and almost decent: the Moscow region shows 41.97 billion rubles, and the Nizhnii Novgorod region shows 28.8 billion rubles.
THE MOST AND LEAST CORRUPT OVERALL
Finally, the most important issue: ranking the regions on overall corruption. The researchers categorized them into four groups.
Among those with the lowest level of corruption are the Arkhangelsk region, Bashkortostan, Karelia, the Krasnoyarsk territory, and the Novgorod region.
Below-average levels of corruption were recorded in the Amur region, the Voronezh region, the Kurgan region, the Leningrad region, and the Novosibirsk region.
Above-average levels of corruption were recorded in the Belgorod region, the Kemerovo region, the Krasnodar territory, the Pskov region, and the Ryazan region.
The most corrupt regions in Russia, according to this study, are the Altai territory, the Volgograd region, the city of Moscow, the Rostov region, the city of St. Petersburg, the Saratov region, the Khabarovsk region, and the Chelyabinsk region.
WHO WILL FIGHT CORRUPTION?
These results certainly offer plenty of food for thought. Rather gloomy thoughts. Of late, the battle against corruption has become almost a strategic direction - in words, not deeds, as these research results show; and the situation doesn't offer much reason for optimism so far. And this study only offers us a partial picture of corruption, so we can say that the results are an underestimate of the true scale of corruption.
According to Elena Chirkova, Transparency International plans to carry out similar research in Russia's other 49 regions; and since the researchers can no longer rely on funding from the Open Society Institute, they are now fund-raising for the next stage of research. Chirikova says: "Ideally, such studies should be done at least once every two years, in order to provide a complete picture of the situation as well as enabling us to identify the trends of any changes in corruption across the regions."
The researchers also consider that carrying out such extensive research to provide a full picture of corruption in Russia, as well as publicizing the results, would facilitate public pressure on state bodies and political organizations. Moreover, after the results are processed and thoroughly analyzed, the researchers intend to present recommendations to those official bodies that are supposed to be fighting corruption: even if it's utopian to talk about doing away with corruption entirely, something still needs to be done to restrict its scope, at least.
All we can add here is to note once again that recommendations can and should be made, of course, especially after research as extensive as this; but what should we do about the fact that the people who are meant to hear and implement those recommendations are generally themselves involved in the unsavory practice of bribe-taking?
(Translated by Arina Yevtikhova)