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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

War and Corruption

Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine has become “a stark reminder of the threat to global peace and security that comes from government corruption and lack of accountability.”

This is according to Transparency International’s report on last year’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

The ranking, published the day before by the organization, speaks of the prosperity of corruption in Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks 180 countries and territories on the perception of corruption in the public sector using data from 13 external sources, including the World Bank, World Economic Forum, consulting firms and think tanks.

Kleptocrats in Russia have amassed huge fortunes by swearing loyalty to President Vladimir Putin in return for lucrative government contracts and protecting their economic interests, Transparency International has said.

The absence of any control over Putin’s power has allowed him to pursue his geopolitical ambitions with complete impunity and has destabilized the European continent, underlines the study of the organization.

“Wherever you throw it, there’s a corner everywhere”

Any war contributes to the flourishing of corruption, and the war in Ukraine was no exception, economic observer Semyon Novoprudsky noted in an interview with the Russian media service. Therefore, according to him, the conclusions that the analysts of Transparency International reached when compiling their traditional rating are quite logical.

“Military or quasi-military supplies have always been a breeding ground for corruption,” he added. – In times of peace, traditions of corruption can still be tackled with long institutional reforms at the state level. War does not stop corruption, but rather increases it. Moreover, in Russia, in addition to a lot of unrest, openly corrupt decisions began to be made. For example, recently, officials and deputies of the State Duma were allowed not to publish tax returns, hiding them under the interests of the notorious special military operation (SVO).

It is also telling that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation recently issued an order that it would itself take care of the supply of “volunteers” sent to war, Semyon Novoprudsky said. “So apparently they also call it ‘Wagner PMC,'” he explained. supply during war, as Leo Tolstoy wrote in Tales of Sebastopol, is an acknowledged source of theft and corruption.

This was well illustrated by the first wave of mobilization in Putin’s Russia, when relatives and friends collected money for vital equipment for recruits, the observer pointed out: “At the same time, there is no had no official reaction to such outrageous facts, not to mention the investigation and opening of criminal cases … the source of corruption and theft of budget money, by definition, is in land development busy. It’s just a bottomless hole. In a nutshell, wherever you throw it, everywhere is a wedge.

In Russia, there are no positive systemic changes in the field of the fight against corruption, says Semyon Novoprudsky. For Putin, war and corruption, including outright bribery of foreign politicians and international sports officials, are the two main tools for maintaining power and leading the country, he concluded.

“We are dealing with a practically institutionalized corruption in the country”

In turn, Sergei Zhavoronkov, senior researcher at the Gaidar Institute, as part of the Transparency International report, drew attention to the legislative changes that have taken place in Russia over the past year and are aimed at ensuring a peaceful life to officials mired in corruption. According to him, these amendments were adopted with unusual speed because of the war in Ukraine, “under general silence”.

“So last summer, changes were made to the legislation, according to which now, in order to obtain information about the owner and the real estate, the consent of the owner himself is required”, clarified the source of media. – And earlier, the anti-corruption investigations of Navalny and members of his team relied on free access to the database. In addition, deputies of the State Duma and members of the Federation Council have recently secured the possibility of not publishing declarations of income and real estate. Even earlier, in the early days of the war, officials received a similar privilege.

And all this is done under the guise of alleged opposition to Western sanctions, Sergei Zhavoronkov underlined. In fact, in his opinion, we are talking about the deliberate concealment of information from Russian citizens about income that in no way can be explained.

“How did people, working all their lives in the civil service, suddenly find themselves owners of property worth billions of rubles? he asks rhetorically. – It is clear that this is some kind of stolen money. We are therefore practically dealing with institutionalized corruption in the country. For the same purpose, Russia classified a huge amount of economic data that was in the public domain before the war in Ukraine. For example, customs statistics, data on budget expenditures in dynamics, etc. Corruption is endemic here, and there are official efforts to keep it going. »

It is surprising that despite the war, Ukraine’s position in the ranking did not deteriorate, unlike Russia, but improved, albeit slightly, the expert noted. This clearly shows who is going in which direction, he concluded.

Russia in the new ranking took 137th place out of a possible 180 and tied with the Republic of Mali and Paraguay.

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