In a unique project encompassing Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, we attempted to understand why the struggle against corruption is becoming an end in itself and not bringing any real results.
Post-Soviet countries don’t occupy the most honorable positions in the Corruption Perception Index, which is compiled each year by the international organization Transparency International. And this is despite the fact that the fight against bribe-taking and abuse of power by officials traditionally receives a heightened level of attention. Why don’t programs for combating corruption work in Eastern Europe, when both agencies of the national governments as well as international organizations are investing money and effort into such programs?
In the infographics below we compare how many anti-corruption restrictions – and institutions for combating corruption – exist in the countries of the region, and what the maximum penalty is for those found guilty of such crimes.
Many international institutions hold up the reforms undertaken in Georgia in the mid-2000s as an example for the countries of Eastern Europe. It’s not by accident that Georgia holds 44th place in the transparency index (TI) (it’s nearest ‘neighbors’ are Latvia and Spain). However, this doesn’t mean that corruption has been successfully rooted out, writes Jam News in its piece titled “Georgia: ‘first place in reform’ or nest of ‘elite corruption’?”
In 1994, the permanent President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko came to power with slogans of combating misuse of power. The battle continues today, but with what result? Euroradio asked this question in their piece “What will happen if you say ‘corruption’ 33 times”. Belarus’s position in the TI, by the way, is much higher than its neighbors in the region (the country holds 79th place).
Russia and Ukraine shared 131st place in Transparency International’s list. In Russia, despite the arrests of highly-placed officials (as high up as the Minister of Economic Development) and the seizure of millions practically live on federal TV stations, corruption remains total. There are no results. “Nothing but a show” was written for Gromadskoe by Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta.
In Ukraine the struggle with corruption has always been something of a national sport, and with what results? This topic is addressed in Gromadskoe’s piece “On all fronts: Who is fighting corruption in Ukraine, and how?”
Moldova, where a highly-placed official – the former prime minister – was imprisoned for corruption for the first time last year, holds 123rd place in the ranking. Moldova is plagued by an absence of transparent leadership, freedom of the press and independent legal institutions, writes Ziarul de Gardă in the piece “The fight against corruption: myth or reality?”
In Azerbaijan, which shares 123rd place with Moldova, corruption pervades society from top to bottom. Back in 2012, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) named President Ilham Aliyev ‘Person of the Year’ in terms of corruption, as noted by Meydan TV in its piece, “The Inconvenient Truth about Corruption”.
Clearly the problem is not only in institutions, notes Jam News in its review of the state of affairs with the struggle against corruption in Armenia. Research shows that it’s simpler for residents of Armenia to resolve their problems via corrupt processes than by legal means. And it likely not just the case for them.
Ed. This project was prepared by the common efforts of Olga Bulat, Kim Voronin, Sergei Sokolov, Erekle Urushadze, Tigranul Martirosyan, Natalia Marshalkovich, Nadia Apenko, Fyodor Prokopchuka, and Maksim Eristavi within the Russian-language media network