Corruption is perceived as a significant problem in Russia,[1] impacting various aspects of life, including the economy,[2] business,[3] public administration,[4] law enforcement,[5][6] healthcare,[7][8] and education.[9] The phenomenon of corruption is strongly established in the historical model of public governance, and attributed to general weakness of rule of law in the country.[1] Transparency International stated in 2022, "Corruption is endemic in Russia" and assigned it the lowest score of any European country in their Corruption Perceptions Index for 2021.[10] It has, under the regime of Vladimir Putin, been variously characterized as a kleptocracy,[11] an oligarchy,[12] and a plutocracy; owing to its crony capitalism economic system.[13][better source needed]

Spread of corruption in Russia[edit]

According to Richard Palmer, the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) station chief in the United States embassy in Moscow in the early 1990s, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rise of Russia coincided with the illegal dispersal of the equivalent of billions of dollars from the Soviet state treasury into private accounts across Europe and the U.S. This was done by elites from "every corner" of the Soviet system using knowledge of Western banking developed by the KGB during the Cold War. Palmer described it as if in the United States, "the majority of the members at Congress as well as by the Departments of Justice and Treasury, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DIA, IRS, Marshal Service, Border Patrol; state and local police officers; the Federal Reserve Bank; Supreme Court justices” were engaging in "massive corruption".[14][15][16]

At the beginning of Vladimir Putin's second term as president, Russia's rank in the Corruption Perceptions Index deteriorated from 90th place in 2004[17] to 126th place in 2005[18]—a drop of 36 places. The 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index scored the public sectors of 180 countries on a scale from 0 ("highly corrupt") to 100 ("highly clean") and then ranked those countries by score. The country ranked first is perceived to have the most honest public sector.[19] Russia ranked 136th with a score of 29; for comparison, the best score worldwide was 88 (ranked first), and the worst score was 11 (ranked 180th).[20]

The average size of the bribe increased during the presidency of Dmitry Medvedev. According to the Russian Interior Ministry's Department for Combating Economic Crimes, the average bribe amounted to 9,000 rubles in 2008; 23,000 rubles in 2009; 61,000 rubles in 2010; and 236,000 rubles in 2011—making the average bribe in 2011 26 times greater than the average bribe in 2008, many times the inflation rate for the same period.[21]

According to Sergei Ivanov, the Kremlin chief of staff, the most corrupt spheres in Russia (in terms of household corruption) are healthcare, education,[22] housing and communal services.[23] In comparison, independent experts from RBC magazine name law-enforcement agencies (including the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate) as the most corrupt sphere in Russia, which is followed by healthcare, education, housing and communal services, and social security services.[24] At the government level, however, the five top areas for corruption are as follows: government contracts and purchases; issuance of permits and certificates; law-enforcement agencies; land distribution and land relations; construction.

Estimates of the cost of corruption in Russia vary.[25] According to official government statistics from Rosstat, the "shadow economy" occupied only 15% of Russia's GDP in 2011, and this included unreported salaries (to avoid taxes and social payments) and other types of tax evasion.[26] According to Rosstat's estimates, corruption in 2011 amounted to only 3.5 to 7% of GDP. In comparison, some independent experts maintain that corruption consumes as much of 25% of Russia's GDP.[27] There is also an interesting shift in the main focus of bribery: whereas previously officials took bribes to shut their eyes to legal infractions, they now take them simply to perform their duties.[28] Many experts admit that in recent years corruption in Russia has become a business. In the 1990s, businessmen had to pay different criminal groups to provide a "krysha" (literally, a "roof", i.e., protection). Nowadays, this "protective" function is performed by officials. Corrupt hierarchies characterize different sectors of the economy,[29] including education.[30]

In the end, the Russian population pays for this corruption.[31] For example, some experts[who?] believe that the rapid increases in tariffs for housing, water, gas and electricity, which significantly outpace the rate of inflation, are a direct result of high volumes of corruption at the highest levels.[32] In the recent years the reaction to corruption has changed: starting from Putin's second term, very few corruption cases have been the subject of outrage. Putin's system is remarkable for its ubiquitous and open merging of the civil service and business, as well as its use of relatives, friends, and acquaintances to benefit from budgetary expenditures and take over state property. Corporate, property, and land raiding is commonplace.[33] The result has been one of a normalization of corruption.

Some scholars[who?] argue that the establishment in Russia of an authoritarian regime and a hierarchical society based on the state-corporatist economy, where the diffusion of corrupt practices is one of the indispensable mechanisms for the maintenance of the entire system of power, represents a fundamental obstacle to the implementation of effective criminal policy in the fight against corruption. [34]

Anti-corruption efforts[edit]

An anticorruption campaign in modern Russia began on 4 April 1992, when President Boris Yeltsin issued a decree entitled "The fight against corruption in the public service". This document prohibited officials from engaging in business activities. Moreover, state employees were required to provide information about their income, personal property and real estate holdings, bank deposits and securities, as well as financial liabilities. The implementation of the decree, which formed the basis of the laws on combating corruption and on civil service, was vested in the presidential control directorate. Russia passed the first package of anti-corruption laws in 2008 in response to its ratification of the UN's Convention Against Corruption and the Council of Europe's "Criminal Law Convention on Corruption". The decree "On Anti-Corruption Measures" was signed by President Dmitry Medvedev in May of that year. Since then, numerous changes have been implemented to the Russia's anti-corruption legislation with the purpose of combating bribery and improving its business climate. The Russian anti-corruption campaign is an ongoing effort by the Russian government to curb corruption, which has been recognized as one of Russia's most serious problems. Central documents in the campaign include the National Anti-Corruption Plan, introduced by Medvedev in 2009, and the National Anti-Corruption Strategy, introduced in 2010. The central organ in the campaign is the Anti-Corruption Council, established in 2008. Medvedev has made fighting corruption one of the top agendas of his presidency. In the first meeting of the Council on 30 September 2008, Medvedev said: "I will repeat one simple, but very painful thing. Corruption in our country has become rampant. It has become commonplace and characterises the life of the Russian society."[35]

In 2012, the government adopted a new law requiring public servants and employees of state organisations to disclose their source of funds and both their and their families’ acquisitions of property, including real estate, securities, stock, and vehicles. The legislation has also, for the first time, defined conflict of interest in connection to public officials and extended anti-corruption legislation to the military. The last modification to the Federal Anti-Corruption Law No. 273 was made in December 2012 and it was implemented on 1 January 2013. By upgrading the Anti-Corruption Law with Article 13.3, Russia has made a significant step towards strengthening the framework of its anti-corruption legislation, aligning it with the best practices recognized on the international level, such as the 2010 UK Bribery Act and the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. This articles 13.3 of the Anti-corruption Law requires organizations to develop and implement anti-corruption measures such as (i) appointing a specific department or an official to be responsible for preventing corruption and related offences; (ii) cooperating with enforcement authorities; (iii) developing and implementing standards and procedures for ethical business practices; (iv) establishing an ethical code of conduct for personnel; (v) preventing and resolving conflicts of interest; and (vi) preventing the filing of false or off-the-record reports and the use of forged documents. Russia also joined the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2012 and has the G20 Presidency in 2013, where fighting corruption is one of three main issues on the agenda. Companies should therefore actively ensure that they stay compliant with the new amendment to the Anti-Corruption Law.

The anti-money-laundering initiative[edit]

Corruption has an obvious connection with money laundering as the stolen assets of a corrupt public official are useless unless they are placed, layered, and integrated into the global financial network. The proceeds of corruption may be laundered in jurisdictions without strict anti-money laundering measures and in countries with strict banking secrecy. This is the reason why the "de-offshorization" policy endorsed by President Putin in 2012 and 2013 (after the Cyprus Affaire) is often considered to be a new anti-corruption measure. The government's recent initiatives for gradually strengthening control over financial operations of organisations and citizens have been the subject of The Russian Federal Financial Monitoring Service ("Rosfinmonitoring"). A law was passed on 30 June 2013, which introduced legal amendments aimed at increasing the transparency of currency transactions and strengthening anti-money laundering measures in Russia. The law increases control over financial operations of businesses and citizens.

The most important amendments for businesses are those that modify the regulation of banking activity. The amendments considerably affect credit organizations, which would most likely be required to amend their internal anti-money laundering policies and procedures for the identification of customers. They allow the bankers to demand disclosure of the transaction purpose from the client. However, doing so can impede the conduct of business, including potential delay in payments.

National Plan to Counter Corruption[edit]

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new national anti-corruption plan for the period from 2014 to 2015. The president ordered executive and legislative authorities by 1 July 2014 to make relevant amendments to their anti-corruption plans and to ensure control over their execution. A relevant order was included in the National Plan to Counter Corruption for 2014–2015.

The governor of the Komi Republic was arrested for stealing money from state funds.[36]

Anti-Corruption Foundation[edit]

Anti-Corruption Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Moscow established in 2011 by activist and politician Alexey Navalny. Its main goal is to investigate and to expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials, which they have been successfully doing for the last few years.[citation needed]

Navalny has frequently publicized problems with the corrupt apparatus loyal to Putin. Him and the Anti-Corruption Foundation have a large Russian social media presence, which, along with the general lack of interest in social media involvement from the Russian Government, brings this part of the Russian opposition a considerable following among the younger and more educated Russian population.

This nongovernmental organization throughout its existence has carried out several investigations and has presented different reports with regard to the involvement of high-level officials in corruption. However, these materials have been neglected by the criminal justice system and have only been taken into account in order to discredit this organization.[34]

In 2019, the Anti-Corruption Foundation was recognized by a Russian court as a foreign agent.[37] In 2021, a trial was launched to recognize the organization as extremist and to liquidate it.[38]


Transparency International Russia's report from 2012 shows a variety of activities that give citizens a chance to monitor corruption. It collaborated with the Youth Human Rights movement on a large-scale campaign in 20 cities to check police officers' identification tags. This is a proactive exercise to stop petty corruption. If an officer can be identified, he or she is less likely to ask for a bribe. Transparency International Russia also monitors the income statements of Russian public officials with the help of students and publishes the results and monitored the use of 600 million rubles (US$19 million) of public funds to socially oriented NGOs, and found several cases of conflict of interests. It provided analysis and recommendations on making this process more transparent and accountable. the NGO works cooperatively with all individuals and groups, with for-profit and not-for-profit corporations and organisations, and with bodies committed to the fight against corruption. It undertakes professional analysis and papers on corruption-related issues trying to explain the reasons of the spread of corruption, its political and social implications and trying to analyse the possible scenarios for the future.

On 9 December 2014 Novosti agency reported that the head of the National Anti-Corruption Committee Kirill Kabanov admitted on air that a third of Russian officials were corrupt.[39] As of 2015, Russian officials are periodically accused of spending on luxury cars, mansions or clothes worth significantly more than their declared income.[40][41][42][43][44]

A 2018 study of state corruption in Russia during the 1750s–1830s found that "as far as we could tell on the basis of our sample of records, the volume of resources extracted from the population through ‘routine’ corruption appears to have been surprisingly low."[45] The authors write, "every little interaction with state officials involved paying a fee to the clerks, and such fees, although technically illegal, were so common and commonly accepted as to be entered in the account books alongside other operational expenses. On the other hand, these ‘routine’ payments were really quite small, especially if apportioned on a per capita basis among the entire commune ... Such fees appear to have been largely customary in nature, a part of the traditional economy of gift-giving, demonstrating respect, and maintaining informal relationships (‘good disposition’). Yet, even such a low level of per capita extraction would have allowed key district officials to amass significant amounts, at a very minimum tripling their salaries."[45]

The Russian Prosecutor General Office reported that of the persons convicted for corruption in 2017, the number of law enforcement functionaries and parliamentaries (nearly 2,200 persons) constituted over 11%.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "New Reports Highlight Russia's Deep-Seated Culture of Corruption". Voice of America. 26 January 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  2. ^ Alferova, Ekaterina (26 October 2020). В России предложили создать должность омбудсмена по борьбе с коррупцией [Russia proposed to create the post of Ombudsman for the fight against corruption]. Izvestia Известия (in Russian). Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  3. ^ "Russia Corruption Report". GAN Integrity. June 2020. Retrieved 5 November 2020. Corruption significantly impedes businesses operating or planning to invest in Russia.
  4. ^ Suhara, Manabu. "Corruption in Russia: A Historical Perspective" (PDF). Retrieved 4 December 2015. There seems to be general agreement among specialists that corruption is particularly rampant in post-communist Russia.
  5. ^ Gerber, Theodore P.; Mendelson, Sarah E. (March 2008). "Public Experiences of Police Violence and Corruption in Contemporary Russia: A Case of Predatory Policing?". Law & Society Review. Wiley. 42 (1): 1–44. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5893.2008.00333.x. JSTOR 29734103.
  6. ^ "Cops for hire". The Economist. 18 March 2010. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  7. ^ Klara Sabirianova Peter; Zelenska, Tetyana (2010). "Corruption in Russian Health Care: The Determinants and Incidence of Bribery" (PDF). Georgia State University. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  8. ^ "Corruption Pervades Russia's Health System". CBS News. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  9. ^ Denisova-Schmidt, Elena; Leontyeva, Elvira; Prytula, Yaroslav (2014). "Corruption at Universities is a Common Disease for Russia and Ukraine". Harvard University. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  10. ^ "Countering Russia's kleptocrats: What the West's response to the assault on Ukraine should look like". Transparency International. 4 March 2022. Retrieved 1 December 2022. Corruption is endemic in Russia. With a score of just 29 out of 100, Russia is the lowest-ranking country in Europe and a 'country to watch' on Transparency International's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index.
  11. ^ Fish, M. Steven (April 2018). "What Has Russia Become?". Comparative Politics. New York City: City University of New York. 50 (3): 327–346. doi:10.5129/001041518822704872. JSTOR 26532689.
  12. ^ Guriev, Sergei; Rachinsky, Andrei (2005). "The Role of Oligarchs in Russian Capitalism". The Journal of Economic Perspectives. American Economic Association. 19 (1): 131–150. doi:10.1257/0895330053147994. JSTOR 4134996. S2CID 17653502.
  13. ^ Åslund, Anders (7 May 2019). Russia's Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy. Yale University Press. pp. 5–7. ISBN 978-0-300-24486-1.
  14. ^ FOER, FRANKLIN (7 February 2019). "Russian-Style Kleptocracy Is Infiltrating America". The Atlantic (March 2019). Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  16. ^ Kalinina, Alexandra (29 January 2013). "Corruption in Russia as a Business". IMR INSTITUTE OF MODERN RUSSIA. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  17. ^ "2004 - CPI -". Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  18. ^ "2005 - CPI -". Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  19. ^ "The ABCs of the CPI: How the Corruption Perceptions Index is calculated". Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  20. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2021: Russia". Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  21. ^ Kalinina, Alexandra (29 January 2013). "Коррупция в России как бизнес". Институт современной России (in Russian). Retrieved 9 January 2018.
  22. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2012). "Loyalty as Rent: Corruption and Politicization of Russian Universities." International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 32(3/4), pp. 153-167.
  23. ^ May 2008 – December 2011, Deputy prime minister of Russia, since December 2011, the head of Russian Presidential Administration
  24. ^ Автор статьи: Максим Легуенко, Екатерина Трофимова (17 June 2014). "Взятки в России: кто, где, сколько и можно ли с этим бороться? :: Деловой журнал :: РБК daily". Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  25. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2012). "Education Corruption, Reform, and Growth: Case of Post-Soviet Russia." Journal of Eurasian Studies, 3(1), pp. 20–29.
  26. ^ "Доля теневой экономики в РФ снизилась почти до 15%, таблицы "затраты-выпуск"... - Пресс-центр - Интерфакс". Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  27. ^ Source: Milov, Nemtsov, Ryzhkov, Shorina (2011). "Putin. Corruption. Independent expert report", p. 6.
  28. ^ "Средний размер взятки в России в 2010 году вырос с 27 до 47 тысяч руб". РИА Новости (RIA Novosti). February 2011. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  29. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2010). "Corrupt Organizational Hierarchies in the Former Soviet Bloc." Transition Studies Review, 17(4), pp. 822–836.
  30. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2009). "Corruption Hierarchies in Higher Education in the Former Soviet Bloc." International Journal of Educational Development, 29(3), pp. 321–330.
  31. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2012). "Who is Guilty and What to Do? Popular Opinion and Public Discourse of Corruption in Russian Higher Education." Canadian and International Education Journal, 41(1), pp. 81–95.
  32. ^ Milov et al., Op,cit., 2011, p. 6.
  33. ^ Osipian, Ararat. (2012). "Predatory Raiding in Russia: Institutions and Property Rights after the Crisis." Journal of Economic Issues, 46(2), pp. 469–479.
  34. ^ a b Kazyrytski, Leanid (2 July 2019). "Fighting Corruption in Russia: Its Characteristics and Purpose". Social & Legal Studies. 29 (3): 421–443. doi:10.1177/0964663919859052. S2CID 198781248.
  35. ^ Sakwa 2011, p. 329
  36. ^ Bershidsky, Leonid (22 September 2015). "Oil crash results in Moscow warning to Russia's comfortably corrupt". Bloomberg News via National Post.
  37. ^ "The Ministry of Justice recognized the Navalny fund as a foreign agent | Vedomosti". Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  38. ^ "The court restricts the activities of Navalny's funds on the claim of extremism | BBC Russia". BBC News Русская Служба. Retrieved 13 May 2021.
  39. ^ "Каждый третий чиновник в России берёт взятки, заявили в НАК",, 9 декабря 2014.
  40. ^ "New Investigation Exposes Glam Life Of Vladimir Putin's Bling Ring". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  41. ^ "Corruption Fatigue | Opinion". Retrieved 9 September 2015.
  42. ^ "Russia's Prisoner Dilemma | Russia! Magazine". Archived from the original on 17 May 2019. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  43. ^ "Corruption in Russia as a Business". Institute of Modern Russia. 29 January 2013. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  44. ^ "Russia's mafia state | Alexey Navalny's group publishes startling revelations linking the Attorney General's son to the mob". Meduza. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  45. ^ a b Korchmina, Elena; Fedyukin, Igor (2019). "Extralegal payments to state officials in Russia, 1750s–1830s: assessing the burden of corruption". The Economic History Review. 72: 156–181. doi:10.1111/ehr.12666. ISSN 1468-0289.
  46. ^ Генпрокуратура отчиталась о числе осужденных за коррупцию силовиков и депутатов,, 23 April 2018

External links[edit]