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Russian rock musician urges president to combat corruption

August 07, 2012, 14:58 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila

A famous Russian musician and singer Andrei Makarevich sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin an open letter, in which he urged the president to take urgent measures against corruption.

The experts believe that what is being done in the struggle against corruption is quite inefficient. However, ordinary people are already tired of corruption and probably will be able to counteract it, coming out against it all together.

In the open letter, which the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily published, leader of the popular rock band Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine) Andrei Makarevich noted that the president is aware about the bribery situation in the country in general, but does not know “the scale of this national disaster.”

If 5-6 years ago an average kickback has made 30% of a contract, now this percentage reached 70%, Makarevich said in the letter. He noted that he is aware about one case, when the kickback reached 95%. The whole country knows about it, but all people keep silent, because some of them are feeding from kickbacks, and some others are afraid to lose the remaining 30% of earnings. “If the situation does not change cardinally, it is fraught with a total catastrophe,” he believes.

Makarevich has been participating actively in the political life recently. During the presidential election campaign of business tycoon Mikhail Prokhorov, who was running in the presidential elections as a self-nominee, the musician was his election agent. On May 13, he was participating in the protest action dubbed “Control Stroll” of Russian writers on the Chistye Prudy Boulevard in Moscow. Makarevich has recently signed the open letter of cultural personalities in defence of the arrested members of the punk group Pussy Riot, who are standing trial in Moscow.

Makarevich’s address has literally exploded the Russian segment of the Internet on Tuesday. The Moskovsky Komsomolets website became inaccessible over a high flow of visits. The comments focused on the issue whether such address, which tells about the notorious situation, is needed at all.

Many people came to conclusion that the sense of this demarche of the rock musician is sooner an address to people, rather than to the president.

“What Putin can do alone, if the population is such? If he enacts hundred thousands of laws in the struggle against corruption, no law will be efficient, if people oppose them,” a blogger kim_irsen contemplated at the website of the radio station Ekho Moskvy.

The president should take tough measures to root out the corruption, Oleg Dateyev believes. “He did so in Chechnya some time ago. He said that he would “kill” all (gunmen – Itar-Tass) and he did so. Who and what prevents the president from taking the same tough actions against the corruptionists,” he said.

According to the reports of the international organization Transparency International, Russia is ranked at the 143rd position for the corruption level in the public sector. Such countries as Nigeria, Uganda and East Timor turned out to be on the same position in this rating.

The marketing research agency Profi Online Research has conducted a survey over the attitude of the Russians to corruption. The survey showed that from 1,000 respondents only 40% did not give any bribes at all in their life. Other pollsters have the experience of bribery: eight percent gave a bribe once in their life, 48% did so several times and four percent give bribes constantly. The percentage of those who take bribes turned out to be lower – 43%.

Bribes are taken in Russia as the forced necessity most frequently. For instance, 70% of respondents had not given a bribe, if they could have attained the goal in the honest way, and 66% would not have given “kickbacks” in this situation.

In the last few years the Russian authorities are seeking constantly to curb corruption by various measures, but these efforts had not brought any tangible results. So, the struggle against corruption became one of the priorities for Dmitry Medvedev in the years of his presidency. Last March, shortly before Vladimir Putin was elected president, Dmitry Medvedev signed the national anti-corruption plan for the next two years. This plan is mainly seeking to control the expenses of public servants.

The experts come to conclusion that the corruption in Russia is systemic and all-embracing, and the struggle against it turns out to be futile, despite numerous instruments, methods and initiatives for the ways to suppress it.

In modern Russia corruption passed three stages of transformation, head of the Russian branch of Transparency International Yelena Panfilova believes. In the 1990s corruption passed from business in the sphere of the state authorities, when business was infiltrating in the power to control the state from inside; then the state became to capture the business in forcible ways; finally, a new stage – “the recapture of the state”: the comeback of the already transformed and corrupt business in power has been going on since 2007-2008. So, Panfilova noted that the corruption in Russia is already not a symptom of the disease in the state administration system, but is the disease as it is. “Corruption is the way for the existence of the Russian state administration system,” she pointed out.

One of dangerous consequences of this tense situation is that personal interests of corrupt bureaucrats surpass the state interests, and this fact makes them possible to ignore any instructions from higher authorities. The country is losing its controllability that particularly threatens the modernization and realization of any other ideas and projects.

The expert believes that for all last few years ordinary Russian citizens got sick and tired of corruption and now they “want to be decent.” Several sporadic anti-corruption protests show that probably in the depth of the middle class a new political layer with a new anti-corruption consciousness is taking shape. Probably these citizens will be able to combat corruption uniting against it in Russia, Panfilova underlined. 

 MOSCOW, August 7