July 27th, 2011

What $10,500 buys in Russia

More than just a week at the Ritz Carlton in Moscow. The Russian Interior Ministry has reported that the average bribe paid to a corporate or government official in the first half of 2011 was 293,000 rubles, or about $10,500 – up from the previous year.

The reason the amount of the average bribe increased, according to the Ministry? The government’s anti-corruption drive, which, according to the state, has forced those seeking a kickback to reach deeper into their pockets. (The Ministry failed to give figures from previous years for comparison or the total number of bribes uncovered.)

This news comes as President Medvedev tries to clean up what Transparency International has called “the world’s most corrupt major economy.”

Bloomberg further cites an Economy Ministry report from June that states the amount spent on bribes has doubled in the last decade, from 84.8 billion rubles in 2001 to 164 billion rubles last year.

This culture of corruption has bred “a rise in anxiety, the desire to emigrate, as well as the export of capital,” according to Levada Center Director Lev Gudkov, in an interview with Novye Izvestia.

Lev Gudkov

Levada Center Director Lev Gudkov

Gudkov continues:

Administrative tyranny is worsening. […] We know from the media about the episodes of Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky, Chichvarkin. Lots of Russians have first-hand knowledge of extortion practiced by the powers-that-be, of vague laws and their selective application. Hence the atmosphere of vulnerability and insecurity.

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