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Corruption in Russia worsens, report says

Washington Post / October 27, 2010

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MOSCOW — Corruption in Russia has grown even more blatant over the past year, according to a report issued yesterday by Transparency International, and the country has fallen from 146th place to 154th on the organization’s Corruption Perceptions Index.

Russia tied with Tajikistan, Papua New Guinea, and several African countries, and was ranked most corrupt among the G-20 nations.

For the first time since the activist group Transparency International began issuing its annual list 15 years ago, the United States dropped out of the top 20 least-corrupt nations, because of financial scandals it has endured. The United States fell from 19th place to 22d, behind Chile.

Denmark, New Zealand, and Singapore topped the list as least corrupt, and Somalia was ranked the worst, with Afghanistan and Burma nearly as bad.

At the same time, Moscow is moving closer to joining the World Trade Organization, and President Dmitry Medvedev hopes to foster a new high-tech industry that would make Russia a digital leader.

“How can a country claiming to be a world leader, claiming to be a major energy power, be in such a position?’’ asked Yelena Panfilova, director of the Moscow office of Transparency International. “It’s a situation of national shame.’’

There is, she said, a “catastrophic gap’’ between civil society and “state sabotage.’’

Corruption is everywhere — in hospitals, schools, utilities, and in the corps of traffic police — but Panfilova said Russia is falling ever more deeply down the international list because of a sense of immunity in the higher levels of the government.

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