Mark Galeotti: Well really what it takes to fight corruption in a country like Russia is much the same as it takes to fight corruption in any country. I mean size isn’t necessarily an issue. The problem is you need three things. First of all, you need a judiciary, courts and police which are actually willing and able to do their job. Secondly, you need an elite, which is willing to basically limit its opportunities to enrich itself, which it sees an advantage in actually being honest, which we don’t yet see in Russia and thirdly, you need civil society. You need actually ordinary people in the country actually willing to hold their own rulers, take them to task and hold them up to the standards of what the laws require. Without all three of those frankly it’s impossible. Even if society says corruption has to stop there is no honest courts and if the elite are willing to carry on with corruption it continues. Even if the courts and the police are there if the elite are frankly going to bypass them in every occasion it’s not going to work. So you need that unholy trinity of issues to be dealt with.
And the trouble with Russia is we have a mass society, which actually is quite fed up with the corruption it sees about it, but at the same time is heavily engaged in corruption in many cases. One of the problems we see with the police for example is that ordinary police aren’t paid very much and therefore, they see a little bit of judicious bribe taking as a kind of perk of the job. Secondly, the police and the courts are still frankly are unprofessional, under resourced and in many cases politically dominated and thirdly and perhaps most importantly the elite. The elite is still embezzling, enriching and generally plundering Russia to its own advantage and living very, very well as a result and they don’t really see any interest for themselves in fighting corruption. So 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. It’s just simply levels of corruption taking place.
So it’s going to take time. It’s an institutional process, a political one and a social one and if we look at where it has happened again it takes place over generations rather than just over years.
Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd