State, Businesses Equally Responsible for Corruption

Commenting on an open letter by a Russian rock star, President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the authorities and businesses should share responsibility for corruption in Russia.


In an open letter to Putin published in the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper on Tuesday, veteran Russian rock singer Andrei Makarevich asked Putin to step up anti-corruption efforts because “if no dramatic changes take place, this situation may lead to a total catastrophe.”


Later in the day Putin responded by saying that a similar letter should be addressed to businessmen, who are also responsible for corruption in the country.


“The fact that the state should step up its anti-corruption efforts is evident,” he said. “[But] a second letter should be addressed to entrepreneurs, because, to a considerable degree, they provoke such situations.”


He said that businessmen “also choose this path when trying to get a competitive advantage over their rivals.”


In his letter, Makarevich said that an “average kickback” in Russia has doubled or even tripled in the past five or six years, reaching 70 percent of the deal value and sometimes being as high as 95 percent.


He said that people are unlikely to settle such issues in court, because “nowadays our courts are either an instrument for punishing undesirables or a mechanism for taking money from the plaintiffs.”


“Any serious change in our life today can take place only through your decision, your word, your glance,” Makarevich wrote. He also admitted to not having expected any kind of answer.


Corruption remains one of Russia’s most pressing problems. The country ranks 143rd out of 182 states in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).


Putin’s predecessor Dmitry Medvedev has made the fight against corruption one of the cornerstones of his four years in office, but admitted in January that he achieved “almost no success.”


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