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CORRUPTION IN RUSSIA
In this brief we tried to test several hypothesis which were generated from the popular opinions regarding corruption in Russia using the results of recently conducted nationwide study by “BASHKIROVA & partners”, which examined the petty corruption in educational and healthcare institutions, judicial and local governmental agencies.
Petty or “routine” corruption refers to public officials who routinely abuse their authority when interacting with individuals or businesses seeking out basic goods or services, usually by asking for illegal but relatively small facilitation payments.
“BASHKIROVA & partners” conducted public opinion survey in 2018 among over 2500 respondents all over Russia asking about their experience of petty corruption over the last two years. On the figures below we can see that around 25% of population gave bribes to education and healthcare officials, 20% to the justice officials and 15% to local governments officials over the past two years.
On average, 15% of respondents answered positively to the question “During the last 2 years have you encountered a situation when a public official asked for an informal payment or a gift for his/her services?” Around 20 % of respondents were actually asked by judicial officials to make an informal payment.
Hypothesis 1: Petty corruption remains common in Russia because of culture of impunity.
In recent years, the Russian government has enacted the Federal Anti-Corruption Law - which criminalizes all forms of bribery, abuse of power, conflict of interest, and money laundering. Russia has also signed international agreements such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Anti-Bribery Convention. However, from the Western media, we continue to hear the information that virtually all Russian institutions – educational, legislative, judicial, executive, and security - are entrapped in vicious circle of corruption and that pervasiveness of these issues is owed to an environment that has created a culture of impunity. We have tried to test this impunity hypothesis by asking respondents how likely is one to get caught and punished for making informal payment, giving gifts or using connections. As seen from the Figure 3 below, the majority of respondents believe that it is unlikely and that making informal payments will stay unpunished.
Hypothesis 2: Petty corruption remains common in Russia because it is acceptable and convenient.
Understanding the determinants of corruption is crucial for formulating an effective anti? corruption strategy. We have tested another widely- popular opinion that bribery prospers because it is “mutually beneficial and acceptable by both sides” and that corruption “ makes life easier, as you can get better and quicker services”, which gives rise to systemic corruption. To test this hypothesis we asked the respondents how acceptable is it to give bride/gifts/ using connection.
The Figure 4 above shows that almost quarter of population believes that making informal payments is acceptable and almost 40% is ready to provide gifts to the bureaucrats against their services. More than 50% of respondents are ready to use connections to get necessary services and treatment from the bureaucratic organizations. As we can see from the Figure 5 below, almost half of the respondents believe that paying bribes to bureaucrats will assure better, faster and more convenient services.
Summarizing this brief, we can conclude that a closer analysis of the underlying opinions and reasoning for corruptive behavior reveals that under many circumstances corruption is in fact a rational and understandable reaction to institutional failures, which are often far from accidental. Some can even argue that when many imperfections characterize market transactions, corruption can be considered as legitimate and instrumental tool in achieving goals shared by the vast majority of the population. What is certain is that it could only be cut down by means of new technologies, institutional rules and legal devices, which will reduce existing market failures.