The UN Global Compact Leader Summit was held this week to discuss ways of fighting corruption across the globe. RFE/RL has an interview with the chair of the Transparency International watchdog group, Huguette Labelle, on the much-debated issue of how to tackle endemic corruption in Russia. Here are a couple of highlights:
RFE/RL: In the last few years, Russia has been seen as growing more corrupt. In recent surveys, it ranks together with countries like Zimbabwe. At the same time, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he is taking steps to tackle corruption. Why isn’t it working?
Huguette Labelle: Right now Russia has asked to become part of the OECD [Organization For Economic Cooperation and Development] convention against corruption, which is a tremendously positive step on their part. They have a lot of work to do. They need to pass a law to criminalize corruption by their companies outside of Russia. They need to do that, and I hope that they will. So, they’re taking a lot of very interesting steps. It’s a big country, there’s a lot to do, so it will be interesting to see within the next 2-3 years if this pressure by the government is sustained and if the industries, those who are trying to band together to fight corruption, continue their work. I think that we will see some positive results.
RFE/RL: Do you think the Russian government claims to be fighting corruption are genuine?
Labelle: It’s hard to know; only time will tell. I think that in any country, when a country makes a number of statements, when they pass laws [against corruption], I think one has to see whether indeed those laws will be implemented, or whether the commitments they make will be respected. So, I think it’s a question of time. The media, as we’ve said, is very important in all countries, and Russia has a very interesting media. Their role is vital. But the role of the private sector is also vital. Because as long as the private sector continues to offer very big bribes, it’s very hard. It makes it very difficult for those who are used to take bribes to say, “No, no, I don’t want any.”
Read all of Labelle’s answers here.