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© RIA Novosti. Andrey Stenin

Corruption levels dropping?

by at 01/12/2011 20:20

Russia leapt 11 places on its 2010 standing in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in this year’s global ranking published this week.

The 2011 report places Russia in 143rd place out of 182, still in the ‘red zone’ that marks a high level of corruption, but an improvement on last year’s 154th place nonetheless.

The improved ranking comes amid an anti-corruption drive, spearheaded by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, which led to the introduction of an anti-corruption law in July this year.

But Kiril Kabanov, head of the Moscow-based National Anti-Corruption Committee, said that the jump is largely superficial, since it is caused by the passing of the law and the firing last year of former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, both of which had a minor impact on Russia’s corruption levels in practice.

“I don’t think it’s a sign of improvement,” Kabanov told The Moscow News “Under our estimations the measures taken by the government have had little effect on corruption levels in the country. The main causes [of corruption] are still in place.”

It is true that looking at the ranking only is misleading, since many countries below Russia in the list received the same score of 2.4 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (no corruption) and Russia’s score is only 0.3 points higher than last year.

Russia still ranks among such developing countries as Uganda and Mauritania and is the only major economy with a score below 3. The other BRIC countries, with whom Russia is often compared, all ranked in the top 100.

The least corrupt country was New Zealand, with a score of 9.5, closely followed by Denmark and Finland (9.4). Somalia retained its position at the bottom of the list, only this year it was joined in its score of 1 by North Korea.

Russians handed out at least 164 billion rubles ($5.35 billion) in bribes last year, almost twice as much as in 2001, according to Economy Ministry figures announced in June.

Kabanov said that if no results are wielded from the anti-corruption law in the next year, Russia’s index is likely to drop back down again.

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