Plot twist: Battle against corruption produces more corruption
The Interior Ministry’s Department of Economic Security reports today that as President Dmitry Medvedev’s war on corruption heats up, so has corruption. In the first six months of 2010, the size of the average bribe has nearly doubled, from 23,000 RUB ($760) to 44,000. Since Medvedev was elected in 2008, bribes have quadrupled.
And bribes for bureaucrats who are of middle or low-middle rank have grown faster than inflation.
This confirms what I’ve been hearing from Russian businessmen in Moscow, who complain that visits from renegade tax inspectors, fire inspectors, pencil inspectors have grown more frequent and more brazen, and the size of bribes they ask for, well, see above. Some speculate that it is because the average bureaucrat’s sense of uncertainty has grown, especially if he thinks his money spigot is in imminent danger of being shut off, so they take as much as they can for the long winter ahead. But that is, of course, just the speculation of the people who have to deal with these inspectors.
No wonder even Medvedev admits he’s made no progress on fighting corruption. Quoth he: “Often efforts toward fighting corruption are limited to energetically signing papers.”