When I cited TI figures showing that Russian everyday corruption is middling by global standards (percentage paying bribes: 26%, compared to 15% in Latvia, 18% in Greece, 24% in Hungary, 28% in Romania) – as opposed to being on the same plank with Zimbabwe or Liberia – one of the most common counter-arguments was that corruption in Russia is especially concentrated in the upper commercial/political social crust.
However, as Vedomosti recently covered (h/t Nils), the acceptability of corruption in Russia has basically converged to global averages. According to the table below from the original study by Ernst & Young, Russia in fact now appears to perform slightly better than the global average (and vastly better than low-income countries like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam, all of which are nonetheless ranked higher than Russia in the Corruption Perceptions Index).
Furthermore, the last year has seen significant improvements, e.g. whereas now only 16% see cash payments as acceptable to win or retain business, this figure was 39% in 2010. This is practically equal to the global average of 15%, which unlike Russia rose from 9% in 2010.
Power summary: Russia is a normal country in the sense that its level of corruption, as reported by ordinary citizens and businesspeople, is what you would expect of a middle-income country. However, it is near rock bottom as perceived by various self-appointed experts. I wonder who’s more reliable.