Business and Finance

Corruption in Russia: Business as Usual?

Anti-corruption poster in Saint Petersburg, photo: mutatdjellyfish/flickr

Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index saw the ratings of many western countries drop. Scoring worst among the G20 countries, Russia’s ranking dropped to 154, its lowest ranking since the index began in 1995.

Naturally, there are limits to how useful measuring a population’s perception of how corrupt their government actually is. Transparency International’s Francois Valerian acknowledges that “a drop in ranking can often result from the exposure of corruption that had already existed for some time.”

And corruption in Russia has existed for a very long time. For millions of Russians corruption is often seen as the norm. Russian authors have explored the theme of corruption in Russia over centuries. Nikolai Gogol exposed corruption in tsarist Russia in Dead Souls and The Inspector General, while Mikhail Bulgakov satirized the greed and corruption of Stalin’s Soviet Union in Master and Margarita.

According to one Russian polling station, the Levada Center, “nearly 80 percent of Russians say that corruption is a major problem and that it is much worse than it was 10 years ago.” Recent years have seen a rise in coverage of corruption scandals in Russia. So have Russians become increasingly critical of the government’s failure to deal with the problem of lingering corruption?

Great Projects or Great Illusions?

How will Sochi fare? photo: jan zeschky/flickr

Much has been made of Russian great power politics. Western media has been swamped with reports of Russia’s assertive energy politics, its Cold War-style military parades and photographs of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in shirtless macho poses.

More discreetly however, Russia has been striving to display the country’s greatness through the realization of various projects that commemorate Russia’s glorious history and show off the country’s modernization and economic growth. By holding prominent international events, Moscow hopes to restore the country’s national pride and revive some of its regional centers through the development of infrastructure projects that typically accompany such events.

But will Russia’s investments into these events improve its image abroad and bring much-needed progress for its lesser-developed regions?


Russian and Eurasian Security Network

Russian and Eurasian Security Network
Russian and Eurasian Security Network

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