On Russia Insider

Preliminaries (1) Full disclosure: My personal involvement in the Russia Insider project is minimal. I donated $40 during the 2015 summer Kickstarter campaign, and until recently, they have been republishing my articles. I got no recompense for that, but I have always been okay with that. I want Russia Insider to succeed and I get free publicity […]

Kettle, Meet Pot

“Corruption across EU ‘breathtaking’ – EU Commission” says a headline in the BBC. The Commissioner responsible for the report said that she believed the cost of corruption was “probably much higher” than the €120 billion (US$162 billion) the report estimates. And indeed that is probably correct because corruption within EU organs themselves was not included. […]

Sochi-Adler Krasnaya Polyana Panorama

There has been an unceasing campaign to denigrate the construction in the Sochi-Adler area. Incompetence, corruption, double toilets and so on and on. In all of this, few people have been shown what has been built for the total cost of 55 billion or so US Dollars. We have a preview; but first a discussion […]

Shredding Sochi… in a Good Way

After a long break, a new contribution to the Experts Panel: Shredding Sochi… in a Good Way Western journalists have been in the business of dismissing Russian achievements and magnifying Russian failures ever since Putin drove them into a collective derangement syndrome – he even haunts their dreams, as recently revealed by the Guardian’s Shaun Walker – […]

Serdyukov is Charged

Here is the discussion at this on The Russia Debate. My friend and DR commentator Alexander Mercouris correctly predicted this outcome – that Serdyukov would be charged, but that it is a complex case that will take a long time and likely avoid more the more serious allegations in favor of those that can be […]

Translation: Going on the Campaign Trail with Navalny

According to gazeta.ru’s Olga Kuzmenkova tagging him, Navalny has a popular style and likes asking resonant questions, such as why Russia, despite its petrodollars, only builds as many railways in a year as China does in a week. “Where are my factories? Where is my Cosmos?” “Gazeta.Ru” observed Alexei Navalny as he went about meeting Zelenograd […]

An Examination of Navalny’s Trial and Conviction

The Western narrative on the Navalny case is that it was a selective and political prosecution on trumped up charges. I think that to a significant (but NOT full) extent that this interpretation is basically correct. So given the paucity of convincing counter-narratives, I was extremely pleased to see that Alexander Mercouris, a British lawyer who […]

Translation: Why Didn’t Transparency International Reveal Russia’s Bribery Data?

Why was there no bribery incidence data for Russia in Transparency International’s international survey of 2013? Andrey Kamenetsky at Odnako connects the dots to argue that it was simply because the results were too inconvenient to serve as propaganda. A Crisis of Zombification: How Transparency International failed on The Russia Corruption Rating Dear Readers! In July there […]

Bribery in Russia has Either Recently Soared… or Plummeted

Or neither. Well, isn’t this a useless post? I am referring to the Global Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International a couple of weeks ago, which I covered at my other blog. For the most part, there were no surprises; the only really strange figures came from Taiwan, where 36% of people claimed to have paid […]

Corruption, The American Way

So apparently an Ambassadorship costs $1.8 million per post in the US. In virtually any other country, even where the situation with corruption is quite dismal, such arrangements would be seen as unquestionably corrupt. And yet the US scores an entirely respectable 73/100 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), leagues above say Italy which gets […]

GCB2013 Released

Here it is. Or just skip the graphics and download the data in Excel here. I can’t say I care much about most of it. Of course most people everything think corruption is “increasing,” because they are a grumpy lot. What does matter is the number of people who report paying a bribe in the […]

Cheating In The Unified State Exams

Izvestia writes: The Ministry of Education have evaluated the results of the Unified State Exam of 2013 and identified the regions with the highest numbers of graduates who got the full 100 points on the Unified State Exam. Contrary to popular prejudices, the recordholders aren’t the Caucasian republics, but Bryansk oblast, Kalmykia, and Chuvashia. I […]

Storm In A BVI Teacup

If you remember a couple of weeks ago, the Internet was rocked – for a total of about one or two days – by a wave of leaks from the ICIJ about the identities of offshore account holders in the British Virgin Islands. What juicy revelations did we have about the henchmen of the kleptocratic Putin regime? […]

Book Review: Xin Liu – The Otherness Of Self

“The Otherness of Self” by Xin Liu, published in 2002. Rating: 1/5. I don’t want to sound overly demanding, but really, unless a writer is the next Kant or Heidegger, he owes it to his readers to make his prose at least minimally engaging. With this book on too many occasions I was under the […]

And They Say Mark Adomanis Is A Putin Stooge

Anti-corruption efforts have been significantly stepped up in recent months, both in terms of headline making events (e.g. the dismissal of Serdyukov) and the less heralded progress in the introduction of new laws to combat the source. One of these is a ban on Russian bureaucrats holding foreign bank accounts (this represents a watering down of […]

The Juche Response To British Lawlessness

My latest for VoR’s Experts Panel. (Incidentally, good to see that site getting revamped, and entering the Web 2.0 era). London has a reputation as a “safe sanctuary” for shady people of means from the ex-USSR and other less-developed places, and I think it’s loath to lose it – as it would by extraditing the […]

Are Caucasians Stealing Russian University Places? The Data Says, “Probably Not.”

In one of the recent posts on corruption, commentator AP wrote: Kids from Moscow are having trouble getting into universities now because entrance, based on exam results, skews the chances of acceptance in favor of those students from corrupt regions where they can buy better results. Moscow is less corrupt than, say, Dagestan so Dagestani […]

Russia’s Corruption In Comparative International Perspective

Continuing from my previous post (which focused mostly on trends), this one focuses exclusively on international comparisons as per the results of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey of 2010-11. The graphs represent affirmative answers to the question of whether the respondent had paid a bribe in the past 12 months to each of 9 […]

Antisocial Punishment: Why China Will Defeat Corruption, But Russia And The Arabs Won’t

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is Steven Pinker’s massive door-stopper The Better Angels of Our Nature. Incidentally, I found it a very interesting read with tons of cool factoids, although it could have done with a third of its text and a tiny fraction of its liberal sanctimonious. But that’s for the […]

If Sunlight Is The Best Disinfectant, Why Is The Russian Mafia State Opening The Blinds?

My latest for the US-Russia.org Expert Discussion Panel. Also as usual it appears at Voice of Russia. The version printed here is a slightly longer one: There are already a lot of opinions on the topic of Russian corruption, and I see no pressing need to add more to that morass. I do however think it […]