INDEM, the independent and highly respected think-tank, released its annual report on corruption in Russia this week.
Its findings are hardly encouraging, but not unexpected either. Corruption in Russia has grown ten-fold over the last 4 years. Instead of making a commitment to deal with this grave social malady, the authorities have accepted the institutionalization of corruption as part of Russian economic expansion.
INDEM's "Corruption in Russia: Dynamics and Perspectives" report claims the average bribe in 2001 was $10,200 and has increased to $135,000 in 2005. The report claims bribes increased 10-fold since 2001 and equal to two and a half times the current federal budget.
The authorities have recognized the damage corruption inflicts upon the economy. To counter the temptation to accept bribes for political favors, 35,000 state officials in the federal bureaucracy, representing 10% of all state employees, were given a five-fold pay increase roughly a year ago. These employees are now paid $500 a month, instead of $100. Most observers applauded the government's move as a good first step to fight corruption, but paying some state employees more has not stemmed Russia's oldest social malady called "rent-seeking."
Some Western observers hailed Putin's coming to power. They figured even if he decreased democracy he'd at least cut back on corruption so that the Russian economy would grow faster. Well, Putin has been a total failure by that measure. The biggest economic plus for Russia in recent years has been the rise in oil prices.
Not only are prices up but quality is down too.
However, as the INDEM report points out, the "corruption equilibrium" may now no longer serve its purpose. In the past, the effectiveness of a bribe was a near certainty; today paying a bribe does not assure the "service" will be provided.
What is causing the rise in corruption? Did Putin renationalize assets and thereby cause access to those access to become sellable by government officials? Or has an increase in oil revenue brought in more money with which to pay bribes?
“The general tendency of growing corruption is not new, but the Yukos affair has completely untied the hand of bureaucracy in their pursuit of bribes,” Mr Satarov said.
But he said the underlying reason for the rise in corruption was the lack of political or civil society control over bureaucrats, who had become the dominant force under Mr Putin.
“Putin is the hostage of the system because he depends on political support from the bureaucrats,” Mr Satarov said.
Putin is portrayed as a strong man. But if he can't control the bribery then he's even even weaker than Yeltsin. Yeltsin's government was better than Putin's.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2005 July 22 12:09 AM Civilizations Decay|