Russians believe bribery “solves problems”

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Average bribe size in Russia almost doubles in three years

The average bribe size in Russia almost doubled from 5,048 rubles (EUR 131) in 2006 to 8,887 rubles (EUR 231) in 2010, the Levada Center said with reference to a poll it conducted on 16-19 April 2010.

Ninety-two percent of Russians registering companies or applying for business permits have had to give bribes in the past three years. The rate was only 19% in 2005, the center said.

Some 65-67% of the respondents had to bribe traffic police officers. A total of 43-45% gave bribes in court (32% in 2005) or in the registration of their driving licenses and the technical examination of vehicles (26% in 2005). A total of 38.5% gave bribes for dropping criminal charges (less than 1% in 2005).

Thirty-three percent bribed government workers issuing them with documents, 30% gave bribes to hospital staff, military registration and enlistment offices and higher educational establishments, 27% gave bribes to school teachers, 20% gave bribes in apartment privatization, 15% in the registration of their residence, and 14.5% in the course of employment.

There are positive trends, too. Less than 1% had to give bribes in buying land or acquiring a construction permit (the rate exceeded 21% five years ago). Sixty-nine percent said they did not give any bribes in the past three years.

Everyone who has to deal with the authorities give bribes, many respondents said. Only 10 percent of those polled believe that only “cheats and criminals” bribed officials and 30 percent said that those offering “cash in envelopes” are in fact “ordinary people who have no other way to solve their problems”.

More than half of Russians think bribing officials is the best way to “solve problems.” Fifty-five percent of respondents to the Levada Center poll said they believed that “bribes are given by everyone who comes across officials” in Russia.

President Dmitry Medvedev, halfway through his four-year term, has pledged to fight Russia’s all-pervasive graft and build a law-abiding state, where everyone observes the rules rather than looking for ways around them.

But findings by the Levada Centre showed that Russians still pay bribes to obtain better medical services, prefer to “buy” their driving licences, bribe police when caught violating traffic rules, or pay to ensure that their child can dodge the draft or get a place at the right school. Ten percent confessed they had even paid to arrange funerals for relatives or loved ones.

Watchdog Transparency International last November rated Russia, a G8 country, joint 146th out of 180 nations in its Corruption Perception Index, along with Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and five other developing nations.

http://www.interfax.com/newsinf.asp?id=164257

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