Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 171

Transparency International, the corruption watchdog organization based in Berlin, came out this week with its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranks countries according to their level of corruption as perceived by businessmen and others working and living in them. Transparency International uses a variety of information sources concerning corruption, including the results of surveys and polls concerning bribe-taking and other corrupt practices, and ranks the countries from the least to the most corrupt. Russia shared the eighty-second spot with Kenya on this year’s list, putting it just “ahead”–that is, more corrupt–than Ecuador, Moldova, Armenia, Tanzania, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Uganda and Mozambique. Angola, Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Yugoslavia were even lower on the list, with Nigeria winning the dubious distinction as the world’s most corrupt nation. Finland was rated the cleanest, followed by Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Singapore, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Australia and the United States.

In recent years, Transparency International has consistently ranked Russia among the world’s top ten most corrupt countries. Last year, Russia came in even lower than it did this year–eighty-fourth place–but its perceived corruption index in fact dropped in the latest rating to 2.1, from 2.4 last year (with a score of 10 meaning total rectitude, 0 meaning total corruption). One Russian newspaper, while not taking issue with the contention that Russia has a severe corruption problem, noted that the index is based on perceptions, including such factors as the number of articles devoted to corruption which appear in given country’s media. This means, the paper wrote, that the freer the press is in a country, the worse its corruption index can be (Segodnya, September 15).