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Corruption Touches Every Aspect of Life

Two new BBC Radio 4 programs, hosted by Edward Stourton on the subject of corruption’s wide social reach in Russia’s regions, make for fascinating listening, thanks to their broad range of interviewees and case studies that will shock listeners fortunate enough to be accustomed to above-board dealings with government institutions.  One of the programs focuses on Kazan, in Tatarstan, in which a local independent newspaper editor notes that corruption is rife in educational institutions, but also popular with traffic police, doctors, you name it:

To place a child into a good kindergarten, you have to pay.  To put him in a good school, you have to pay.  Then, to make sure that the teachers take good care of him, you have to pay.  When he finishes school, you have to place him in a good institution, you have to pay for that.  If you don’t want him to serve in the army, you have to pay a bribe.‘ 

Current levels of corruption are contrasted here with the 90s, when according to one source, ‘everything was run by gangsters.  Now, it’s much tougher.  Instead of dealing with gangsters, you have to deal with the state’s institutions.  The thing is, nowadays, the law doesn’t work.

A further report, in which Stourton talks to anti-corruption activists Ilya Yashin and Olga Romanova, looks at just how easy it is to ‘get someone put away‘ – with a couple of million dollars to spare, the process is actually pretty straightforward, says Romanova.

The programs can be streamed here and here.