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Corruption Seen as Increasing in Russia - 2003-10-07

The public perception of corruption in Russia is growing, according to the latest study by a leading international non-governmental organization devoted to fighting corruption worldwide. Transparency International unveiled its annual corruption perception index for Russia Tuesday in Moscow.

The chairman of Transparency International's Russian branch, Yuri Baturin, says the perception of corruption in Russia continues to rise, with Russia slipping to 88th on a list of 133 countries.

Bangladesh, at position number 133, was rated the worst for perceived corruption.

Using a cross-survey of polls and research, Mr. Baturin said that this year Russia ranks alongside Algeria and Pakistan.

Last year, Russia placed 71st on the list, and Mr. Baturin says that while the drop is not overly significant, he says it does show increasing unease among Russians about the level of corruption in their country.

Mr. Baturin refers to the scale Transparency International uses to rate perceived levels of corruption, with a 10 for nations deemed clean, and 1 for countries considered rife with corruption. He says Russia scored a 2.6.

He also predicts it will take 70 years or more for Russia to overcome the perception of corruption to the point where it can be viewed as an equal among nations of Western Europe.

Yelena Panfilova, also of Transparency International's Moscow branch, told reporters that Russians believe corruption is worst among political leaders and institutions.

She says it appears as if President Vladimir Putin's broad plans for administrative reform have yet to change the public's perception about corruption in Russia.

Ms. Panfilova says the president's reform effort may well bear results in the future. But she says real gains in advancing Russia toward a 10 rating, from 2, will depend on whether the government can implement specific, directed change.

Russians also perceive high levels of corruption in the health and education sectors and, across the former Soviet Union, there are concerns about judicial systems.

Transparency International's report did not break down the perception of corruption in the regions across Russia, saying the picture is mixed.

Among the former Soviet republics, Belarus is seen as the least corrupt. Tajikistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan scored poorly in the public's eye.