When I cited TI figures showing that Russian everyday corruption is middling by global standards (percentage paying bribes: 26%, compared to 15% in Latvia, 18% in Greece, 24% in Hungary, 28% in Romania) – as opposed to being on the same plank with Zimbabwe or Liberia – one of the most common counter-arguments was that corruption in Russia is especially concentrated in the upper commercial/political social crust.
However, as Vedomosti recently covered (h/t Nils), the acceptability of corruption in Russia has basically converged to global averages. According to the table below from the original study by Ernst & Young, Russia in fact now appears to perform slightly better than the global average (and vastly better than low-income countries like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of which are nonetheless ranked higher than Russia in the Corruption Perceptions Index).
Furthermore, the last year has seen significant improvements, e.g. whereas now only 16% see cash payments as acceptable to win or retain business, this figure was 39% in 2010. This is practically equal to the global average of 15%, which unlike Russia rose from 9% in 2010.
Power summary: Russia is a normal country in the sense that its level of corruption, as reported by ordinary citizens and businesspeople, is what you would expect of a middle-income country. However, it is near rock bottom as perceived by various self-appointed experts. I wonder who’s more reliable.
National Library of Belarus. Who says tractors and Bat’ka are all there is to it?
In the vein of my recent posts on the myth of Russianemigration, I am now publishing a translation of Уехать в Белоруссию (“Go Off To Belarus”) by Maksim Schweiz writing for Rosbalt news agency. It is a joint effort by Nils van der Vegte, who blogs with Joera Mulders at Russia Watchers and is now busy propagating Dutch language and culture in the Arctic cornucopia of Arkhangelsk, and myself. Nils translated the section on Belarus, I translated the section on Ukraine.
Many pundits have stated lately that Russia is going to experience (or is already experiencing) a large outflow of people who wish to emigrate to other countries because in contemporary Russia, life is supposedly unbearable. However, by looking at the statistics, which we prefer over random quotes, this is not really the case. Also, like some other people pointed out, Russia is not that unique in that a certain percentage has the desire to leave one’s country. Even Russia’s most anti-Kremlin and pro-Western newspapers are fed up with the continuous desire to emigrate. In a recent interview on Echo of Moscow, Konstantin Remtsukov (the editor of the Nezavisimaya Gazeta) commented: “I would like to ask those people who want to “shove off” the following question: just when was it ever better in Russia?” and “Did they want to leave in 1994 and 1993 as well? What aboutin 1998? Do they think they lived better then than we do today?” Instead of doing a serious/academic post on Russian emigration (to counter all these rants) we have decided to translate a rather cynical post by Rosbalt, in which a Russian journalist advises Russians about emigrating to Belarus or Ukraine. – Nils van der Vegte.