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Politics & Current Affairs

Dmitry Medvedev’s Corruption Crusade

What is the Big Idea?

Russia’s lame duck president Dmitry Medvedev is working hard during the last two months of his presidential term. He met with a team of experts last month to talk about Russia’s Open Government initiative which is aimed at fighting corruption, according to the Telegraph.

When he assumed office in 2008, he founded the Anti-Corruption Council and imposed a law that required officials and their family members to disclose their holdings. Recently, a new law went into effect requiring that anything with a cost that tripled the family income be reviewed. 

Preliminary results show the changes have yielded some improvement – Russia went up seven places in the Corruption Perception Index, from 154 in 2010 to 143 in 2011. However, Russia still scores below Sierra Leone and Niger, where GDP per capita is a staggering $800– 20 times less than Russia’s.

What is the Significance?

Shortly after the March 4 presidential elections Mark Galeotti, expert on modern Russia, chatted with Big Think and mapped out three steps Russia needs to take in order to fight corruption. Based on Medvedev’s new initiatives, it looks like they’re moving in the right direction. But the problem is complicated and the solution could take years.

“The trouble with Russia is we have a mass society, which actually is quite fed up with the corruption it sees about it,” said Galeotti. “But at the same time it is heavily engaged in corruption in many cases.”

In other words, corruption in Russia affects all level of society, from local police to the elite.

“Whenever we see people being arrested on corruption charges it’s almost always because they’ve fallen out of favor with someone more powerful than them and frankly pretty much everyone is in some way or another in Russia corrupt because that’s how you have to survive.”

Listen to Mark Galeotti, Big Think’s resident Russia expert, talk about the “unholy trinity of issues” in Russia. 

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