33% of Russian National Budget Lost in Corruption

23 07 2008

A senior Russian prosecutor claims that “Corrupt Russian officials are creaming off about $120bn (£61bn) a year – the equivalent of a third of the national budget” according to a BBC news report “Russian Corruption Skims Billions” (6th June 2008).

The BBC’s James Rodgers, in Moscow, says corruption is like a disease which affects almost every part of Russian life. Russians were resigned to bribe-taking officials and business kickbacks worth billions, he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in his interview with western media since taking office in May, said, “We have specific Russian problems, I will mention two of these. Firstly, poverty which we haven’t yet defeated. We are going to work hard at this in the next few years, using all of our economic might. And the second problem I must mention is corruption, corruption as a systemic challenge, as a threat to national security, as a problem which leads to a lack of faith among citizens in the ability of government to impose order and protect them.”

The report adds, “Not every Russian has had their share of the construction and consumer boom spawned by rising oil and gas prices. Russia is the world’s second biggest oil exporter but analysts say rising inflation and widespread poverty have resulted in a huge gap in living standards.”

Russia is an example of the way corruption, when endemic, can massively undermine the opportunities of a country, even a country rich in oil that should be able to lift its citizens out of poverty.   

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