Magazine article Russian Life

Bribes Tallied. (Notebook)

Magazine article Russian Life

Bribes Tallied. (Notebook)

Article excerpt

The cost of being Russian.

Russian businesses pay $36 billion a year in bribes and unofficial charges--equal to half of all government spending in 2002, or 12% of the country's GDP, according to a two-year study conducted by the Indem think tank and funded by the World Bank. Indem President Georgy Satarov, a former adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, said the figures could be even higher, "as they [the surveyors] were using the minimum levels. Cash or expensive presents are given in exchange for everything from a better treatment at a hospital to a business license or a favorable court ruling." Some 82% of Russian companies and individual business people admit to giving bribes, while many private individuals engage in "casual corruption"--payments and bribes for free services such as education and health care.

Indem interviewed 2,000 individuals, 700 companies and 23 experts, a group that included former ministers, state officials, retired law-enforcement personnel and "people who are often referred to as oligarchs. …

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