Corruption. An Ancient Social Malady. An interview with E.V. Okhotskyi

Author: Korzukhina Alexandra, School of Governance and Politics

Abstract. Corruption is an ethical disease of the modern society. The variety of points of view and approaches to understanding of the social and legal nature of corruption and anti-corruption measures highlights the difficulty of this social phenomenon requiring a comprehensive scientific analysis. E.V. Okhotskyi told us about  numerous roots of this phenomenon.

Key words. Corription, public service, public servant, anti-corruption policy, anti-corruption measures, anti-corruption legislature.

Which prerequisites for corruption can you name?

Corruption existed even in the days of yore. It had different forms and different expressions. The main prerequisite is connected with the human longing to make life easier and more comfortable. Some people work hard to achieve something, others choose another way — steal what does not belong to them, something that belongs to the society and the state. They develop schemes and technologies, learn how to steal and the problem of corruption emerges. The problem of corruption is logical for our country as well. Long ago public servants did not get any compensation for their work from the treasury. There were only so-called «feedings» consisted in voluntary rewards from population. It resulted in occurrence of two main forms of informal gratitude: bribery (when people pay for a specific service) and covetousness (when people pay a public servant to evade obligations). In times of the Soviet Union corruption was minimised as command economy made it impossible to accumulate wealth. After the transfer to privatisation and market economy corruption became systematic in nature.

So we can make a conclusion that corruption in Russia emerged long ago, it changed its forms and magnitude. In 2016 Russia’s CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX is 29 and it takes 119 place in the rating. What modern problems can explain that?

This index is a figure which shows how society reacts on corruption. It does not reflect the actual situation. Russia has managed to better this figure in recent years and it means that Russians notice positive changes in fighting corruption. However we can not say it for sure wether the level of corruption has really decreased. Nowadays all the peer reviews in this field are contingent. Increased society sentiments are not enough. Some displays of corruption can remain unnoticed for people.

Which anti-corruption measures should we take to make it real to become a low-corruption-level country where corruption does not represent a hazard to public safety?

Modern world’s experience shows that there are a lot of technologies of corruption fighting, approaches to this phenomenon and I can say for sure that modern Russian anti-corruption legislature almost completely meet international standards. We joined all the International Conventions devoted to fighting corruption. We created specific bodies which carry out legislature, there are corresponding units  and devisions in each ministry and agency, in regional administrations and at the local level. We managed to implement all the international norms and standards into our system of legislature. We reactivated the work of law-enforcement bodies and prosecutors, Investigation Committee, Ministry of Internal Affairs and various civil-society institutions (Public Chambers, anti-corruption committees). Even scientific society take part in this activity. Experts believe that Russia must embark the path of further development of legislature, stronger control, responsibility and penalty. The issue of limitation period cancellation is under consideration now. It concerns scamming, embezzlement of public funds an affairs connected with national defence and safety. There is an opinion that it is necessary to reduce responsibility for small corruption acts of up to ten thousand roubles and make them administrative misconducts. However, we must remember that «household» corruption disintegrate and spoil the society morally in the same way as «elite». It causes negative public attitude to the authority, damages credibility.

So which type of corruption is the most dangerous?

I think that it is «elite» corruption. There is a proverb: «A fish rots from the head» and when people become witnesses of such large-scale and systematic violations of anti-corruption legislature they believe that they are permitted to do the same. So a can not agree with those who call «household» corruption the most dangerous expression. Moreover, the 5th President decree about fighting corruption highlights the extreme danger of top-level corruption. I would like to mention one more expression of corruption. We can call it «business tripping». Various visiting conferences, summits and other events often turn into vacations funded by the government. So we must check if we really need all those meetings to solve important public concerns.

Is corruption level connected with the form of government?

Corruption exists everywhere, but, of course, in the states with clear and efficient organisation of state machinery with clear and sustainable links between its subjects corruption will be minimised. Staffing must comply with scientific standards and the level of top-ranking servants’ responsibility must be high to protect other servants from arbitrary.

Is it right to make corruption crimes public and create hype?

I strongly agree with the president that we must not turn fighting corruption into a show. We must avoid noisy campaigns on the Internet, television and in the press. We must take the problem seriously. However, it does not mean that we must suppress it and withhold information from the nation. We lived through it and we do not want to do it again. Every criminal must remember that he or she will not be ignored by the government and the nation. We must work consistently, practically and cautiously in this sophisticated area to overcome corruption and eradicate it from our lives.