For the first time since 2004, Russia has improved its position in Transparency International’s annual corruption index.
The country scored 2.4 points, upgrading its position to 143rd place from 154th place in 2001 (among 183 countries).
Russia’s neighbors on the list are Azerbaijan, Belarus, the Comoros, Mauritania, Nigeria, East Timor, Togo and Uganda.
The least corrupt country of 2011 was New Zealand, with 9.5 points. Denmark and Finland shared second place with 9.4 points each. Of the former CIS countries, Georgia has shown the best result, scoring 4.1 points and taking 64th place.
Somalia and North Korea scored one point and shared 182nd – and last – place.
Transparency International has been posting its annual Corruption Perceptions Index since 1995, assessing countries by the level of corruption among its public officers and politicians.
The index incorporates all possible forms of corruption, including bribes to officials and illegal or improper use of budgetary funds. The rankings also evaluate the effectiveness of anti-corruption measures taken by the government.
Russia’s current progress, experts say, is explained by the adoption of new anti-corruption laws.
“The index reflects not only the actions that have occurred over the past year, but over all previous periods,” said Elena Panfilova, general director of the TI office in Russia. “In recent years, Russia has taken a range of effective anti-corruption measures that have borne fruit.”
The fight against corruption has been a cornerstone of President Medvedev’s domestic policy. New laws have obliged officials to declare their incomes and assets. The new legislation also imposed tougher sanctions and penalties for bribe-takers and givers. The Russian Ministry of Justice encouraged citizens to report bribe-takers to the authorities.
However, research published in July 2011 revealed that an average bribe in Russia increased almost sevenfold to $10,000.
“Despite new legislation and new attempts, corruption in Russia is growing into a more refined and sophisticated systemic problem,” Evgeny Kasevin from the Kifir finance investments market players club told RT. “There is no change going on deep inside. Primarily, corruption is due to the actual structure of governance in the country.”