Russia, Ukraine trail in Transparency graft index

By bne IntelliNews January 27, 2016

Amid US government claims that Russia's leadership under President Vladimir Putin has looted vast sums from the country, it scored 119th place in the 167-tier annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2015 compiled by Transparency International, published on January 27.

While anti-corruption efforts of the authorities were evaluated slightly better at 29 points compared with 27 out of 100 in the previous edition, Russia still slid nine places in the Corruption Perception Index to share a spot with Sierra-Leone, Azerbaijan, and Guyana.

Transparency International said that in Russia, "corruption goes hand-in-hand with repressions". The appraisal was also partly reflected by the country's low placing in Freedom House's simultaneously released "Freedom in the World 2016" index.

Awkwardly for Russia's image, both indexes were published in the same week as the airing of a controversial BBC programme alleging that Putin covertly amassed a fortune of billions of dollars for himself and his inner circle.

The US government for the first time publicly accused Putin of corruption in the programme, which the Kremlin later branded "pure speculation and defamation", while demanding that the US furnish proof of the claims against the Russian leader.

Of Russia's immediate neighbours, only Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan scored lower in the corruption stakes, both ranking 123rd, while black sheep Ukraine placed 130th. Belarus outscored both Ukraine and Russia at 107th spot.

In Russia and its former Soviet neighbours Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan "governments are restricting, if not totally stifling, civil society and free media – both proven to prevent corruption," Transparency International added.

Ukraine, in turn, finds itself at the bottom of the index as "an indication of the challenges faced by a government which is dragging its heels in carrying out much needed reforms".

In the post-Soviet landscape overall, the Baltic States performed the best, with Estonia ranked 23rd, Lithuania 32nd, and Latvia 40th.

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