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10 Mar, 2021 12:25

More corrupt or just better at catching white collar criminals? Moscow tops Russian prosecutors’ list of supposed bribery hotspots

More corrupt or just better at catching white collar criminals? Moscow tops Russian prosecutors’ list of supposed bribery hotspots

The Russian authorities have revealed the regions where citizens are most likely to report having to cough up cash to get to the front of the line for public services and officials have been caught with their hands in the till.

The head of the anti-corruption taskforce in the Prosecutor General’s office, Viktor Baldin, told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that the most prosperous parts of the country appeared to be worst affected by double-dealing. However, he admits the analysis can’t account for shady arrangements that go unnoticed and unpunished.

According to Baldin, the greatest number of bribery cases over the course of last year were reported in Moscow, which has a population of between 13 and 20 million people depending on how it is counted. As well as being the capital, and home to government departments and senior public servants, it is also, of course, a global financial and commercial center, which goes some way to explain its ranking.

Second for dishonest exchanges was the Republic of Tatarstan, around 800km east of Moscow. Flanking the Volga River, the region has seen an explosion of investment in recent years from a range of industries, and now claims to be the most economically developed region in the country.

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Likewise, a number of other relatively well-off areas of Russia rank high on the list, including manufacturing center Bashkortostan, tourism and commercial center Krasnodar, and Chelyabinsk in the industrial heartland of Siberia.

By contrast, the smallest numbers of bribes were recorded in the Jewish Autonomous Region, Mari El, Adygea and Ingushetia. All have small populations and are relatively unknown outside the country. Baldin confirmed that corruption appeared to be greatest in “the regions where the circulation of financial assets is concentrated.”

“At the same time,” he warned, “statistical data alone cannot indicate whether these regions are the most or, conversely, least prone to corruption as such … the statistics generated may actually indicate just how successful authorities are in detecting bribes.”

Corruption has long been a political issue of concern in Russia. In 2018, a survey found that close to 80 percent of those living in the country wanted to see the introduction of the death penalty for those officials and security officers convicted of pocketing cash. China has already adopted similar measures.

In January, jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being the secret owner of a luxurious and colossal Black Sea palace – evidence, he claimed, of corruption. The video was published by his Anti-Corruption Foundation – which is listed by Russia’s Ministry of Justice as a ‘foreign agent’ because it receives funding from overseas – and attracted more than 100 million views on YouTube.

However, an investigation by local media found that the property was an empty shell, with workmen still fitting out the interiors. Construction mogul Arkady Rotenberg later announced he was the owner of the manor, which is situated near the resort town of Gelendzhik. He maintains that the estate is being constructed as an opulent hotel.

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