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Russian president Dmitry Medvedev admitted to what has become a legitimate, widespread questioning of confidence in government among the Russian people and urged for solidarity, transparency and swift action to rebuild relations between government officials and the public.
Russia has always cultivated quite a reputation for itself. According to the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, there were over $300 billion in bribes paid out to Russian officials in 2011 alone. Medvedev announced his intention to target what has become a lucrative practice among government officials. He outlined five “blocks” tocontinue anti-corruption work, which include reducing thegovernment’s presence inthe economy, “fighting so-called big corruption,” measures toreduce corruption inthe state purchases sector andimprove corporate governance instate-owned companies, lowering thelevel ofcorruption ineveryday life andensuring public oversight. Medvedev first took office in 2008, and initiated what proved to be a futile campaign against the illicit practice, eventually admitting to Russian reporters that his first try had “zero effect.” Although high ranking and senior officials are now required to declare an income, the government of Russia still allows its officials almost free reign with its finances. Russian politicians are often seen sporting designer suits, watches and being chauffeured in lavish limousines. Despite Medvedev’s initial effort, officials were never and are still not required to submit any record of their spending, which can surpass their annual earnings several times over.
Of course, Russia has felt the effects outside of its political domain. Russia’s business environment has created a shady environment for itself, with company executives usually being tentative about moving into a country so rampant with unlawful conduct among the very people running the country.
When questioned about the business environment in Russia, business mogul Andrey Goltsblat responded to The Moscow Times: “That certainly is always theperception— that corruption inRussia is anissue, andthat conducting business here means you are going tobe exposed toit. Obviously corruption does exist, andthat perception can be thereality.
Perhaps what has become the most common form of corruption in Russia is known as licensing corruption. In this situation, abusiness needs alicense or approval, anda bureaucrat is looking fora payoff. Often times, businesses find themselves at a point where it is told by government that they are missing a mysterious document or unexpected delays are preventing the business from succeeding. The business is then usually told that their matters can be alleviated with a small payment or gift, which creates an instance of direct extortion. If the victimized party refuses this alternative, they could expect to find more “unexpected delays” at their doorstep. Businesses also find themselves at the hands of public officials in regards to kickbacks between said official and a representative of the business. In this case, a business or supplier will come to a purchasing agreement with a public official at an inflated price. Theextra amounts paid are shared between someone fromwithin thepublic authority making apurchasing decision andsomeone fromthe company selling thegoods or services.
All of Medvedev’s efforts may prove to be futile however, as he will no longer be in office next year. The widely unpopular Vladimir Putin will reassume his role as president, albeit his campaign was riddled with corruption allegations, and his administration has been notorious in years past for lackadaisical efforts regarding corruption. It appears that the motherland will continue to find itself enveloped in a permanent shroud of dishonesty and what little progress made under Medvedev will go to waste.