- Vladimir Putin's much-publicised campaign to stamp out
corruption was shown to be spectacularly failing yesterday when an authoritative
study showed Russians are being forced to bribe their way through life
like never before.
- The study, by the independent Indem think-tank and the
respected Romir Monitoring Centre, revealed that the cost of the average
bribe has rocketed by a factor of 13 in the past four years and Russians
now pay $319bn (£183bn) a year in backhanders.
- The average bribe for an ordinary person now stands at
about $100 but businessmen are forced to pay much more. In 2001, the average
bribe in the business world was $10,200 but in 2005 the report said the
figure was $135,800.
- Officials have "price-lists" for bribes and
the report's authors accused the Russian state of being "the country's
biggest racketeer" and said the sheer quantity of cash involved was
more than two-and-a-half times greater than the annual state budget.
- Many of the bribes are for services supposed to be free
but where professionals are so poorly paid that they turn to bribery as
a way of topping up their meagre incomes. Top of the list of "everyday
bribes" are those paid to university professors and officials to get
places in some of Russia's most prestigious educational institutions. They
get $583.4m a year to provide university places.
- Next at $401.1m came bribes to doctors and medical professionals
to secure treatment that is supposed to be free. Buying your son a conscription
exemption from the notoriously brutal army also remains popular, with parents
spending $353.6m a year on bribing military officials to dream up an imaginary
health defect for their offspring.
- Making sure a judge rules in your favour in court also
carries a price tag: Russians spend $209.5m a year on making sure the scales
of justice are tipped in their favour. Lower down the bribery league came
sweeteners to traffic police ($183.3m a year), backhanders to get jobs
($143.4m) and " inducements" to gain places in the country's
best schools ($92.4m).
- Experts said officials had become more greedy because
they feared they would soon lose their jobs in President Putin's administrative
reforms and therefore wanted to "make hay while the sun shone".
- Georgy Saratov, Indem's president, said: "The stable
growth of corruption is being fed by the extra pressure the authorities
are putting on ordinary people to make them pay bribes." But most
of the annual $319bn in bribes is paid by businessmen whose backhanders
account for $316bn of that.
- Anti-corruption specialists said the report showed how
spectacularly bad Mr Putin's administration had been at stamping out corruption
despite repeated promises in his annual address to do just that.
- "Now we know exactly what the authorities have been
doing for these past four years," Elena Panfilova, of Transparency
International Russia, told reporters. "These findings are not just
an analysis of corruption but a litmus test of the authorities and the
efficacy of their reforms."
- Indem said the government's anti-corruption task force
appeared to have achieved little and noted with irony that the initial
head of the organisation, the former prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov, was
himself now being investigated over corruption allegations. Everyday expenses
- MEDICAL TREATMENT Ensuring you get treatment varies from
$7 (£4) to hundreds of dollars. Annual spend: $401.1m
- NATIONAL SERVICE If your son wants to avoid serving in
the army for two years, it can cost $1,000. Annual spend: $353.6m
- LEGAL RULING Persuading a judge to rule in your favour
costs from $500 to tens of thousands of dollars. Annual spend: $209.5m
- TRAFFIC COP BRIBE Entry level price in Moscow $7 rising
to $200. Annual spend: $183.3m
- UNIVERSITY PLACE A bribe to secure a place at university
varies from $9,000 to $35,000; law costs the most. Annual spend: $583.4m
- SECURING A JOB Or avoiding being fired, costs from $500.
Annual spend: $143.4m
- SCHOOL PLACE To get a child into a good school and make
sure they do well there: starting price $1,000, or more. Annual spend:
- The prices of bribes are estimates based on anecdotal
- © 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.