Transparency International, the Berlin-based corruption monitoring group, has released its 1999 Corruption Perceptions Index. That index uses various polls of businessmen, experts and the general public, to rank countries according to their perceived degree of bribe-taking. Russia shared the eighty-second and eighty-third spots–out of ninety-nine countries–with Ecuador. Denmark was number one–the world’s least corrupt country–while the United States was in eighteenth place. Cameroon was deemed the world’s most corrupt country, followed by Nigeria, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Honduras, Tanzania, Yugoslavia, Paraguay, Kenya, Uganda, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Albania, and then Russia. China, Belarus, Latvia, Mexico and Senegal jointly held the fifty-eighth through the sixty-second positions.
Transparency International gave Russia a raw quantitative score of 2.4. According to its methodology, a rating lower than 3 points means that a country is “extremely corrupt.” Russia also received a score of 2.4 last year, when it came in 76th out of 85 countries (Russian agencies, October 26; www.transparency.de).
Meanwhile, a three-month study carried out by various media and human rights groups in Russia has found that not one of the country’s eighty-nine regions “promotes a climate favorable to a free and pluralistic press.” The study, dubbed the Public Expertise project, was led by the Russian Union of Journalists. According to a press release by Internews, whose Russian branch also took part in the study, the project brought together journalists, media managers, lawyers, professors and others, who formed regional commissions, which collected and analyzed thousands of pages of data. The results will be represented on a map of Russia, color-coded to show levels of press freedom. The map was originally supposed to use three colors, representing three rankings–favorable, mixed and unfavorable. No region, however, was found to have an environment favorable to press freedom, so two colors were used for the map.
Among the factors taken into consideration in the study were (1) local laws and regulations affecting the media and whether these complied with the Russian Constitution, (2) the responses of local officials to journalists requests for public information; the use of journalistic accreditation and (3) local conditions affecting the printing and distribution of newspapers and television and radio broadcasting. Moscow received the highest press-freedom rating–sixty-three out of 100 points–while Bashkortostan came in last, with a rating of ten out of 100.
The Russian Union of Journalists is also planning to create an Index of Corruption, using a similar methodology (Internews’ main website can be found at www.internews.org; the web address for Internews Russia is www.internews.ru).
KEY ARMENIAN LEADERS ASSASSINATED.