Bureaucracy, Clientelism and Corruption in Russia

The definition of corruption

Corruption is a rather complicated and ambivalent term. It describes the social phenomenon that develops in time, possesses the historical character and substantially depends on the social conditions and traditions of one or another country. Therefore, to get comprehensive and deep understanding of corruption it is necessary to study the details of the social practices that are connected with it, the concepts about it and the respective stereotypes of the consciousness as well as the emotional perception of its manifestations.

Due to the latent nature of many factors of corruption, direct and indirect counteraction against their exposure by the corruption subjects themselves, its objective and overall description as a system of elements and their interconnections is rather hard. Nevertheless, a lot of fragments of the Russian corruption system have already been studied, and even their brief description can present the idea about its systematic character1 The article is based on the research of the INDEM Foundation that was conducted in the form of the formal all-Russian sampling population polls in 2001, 2001, 2004, and 2005 years, and also in the form of the informal interviews with ordinary citizens, businessmen, state and municipal staff members in the period of 1999— 2007. The informal interviews were most often used for the search of the new social practices tied with corruption, whereas the formal polls — for their quantitative evaluations.1.

At its time the Soviet propaganda imposed on the society the idea that corruption is the bribery. Most citizens easily believed in it since for them the only type of corruption that they or their acquaintances and colleagues were involved into indeed was bribery. But such attention to this form of corruption keeps the other ones, which often pose more danger to a society and a state, in the shadow, and they might seem insignificant or even allowable when incorrectly interpreted.

In the post-Soviet period, with the development of stock and bond markets, with the citizens being provided with opportunities of obtaining and possessing any property, including real estate and means of production, the state and the society started to suffer the heaviest losses emanated from the corruption deals tied to the redistribution and inappropriate use of the budget financial resources as well as the tax underpayment. A lot of these deals are concluded without violating the law, within the scope of the participants’ authorities. Of course, under such conditions bribes are still present in the relationships between citizens and businessmen with bureaucrats. The higher is the social status of corruption involving officials, the more opportunities they have and the more often they try to avoid direct bribes.

Corruption can show in crimes, law violations and various ethical deviations in the behavior. On the other hand, corruption can take shape of the officials’ abuse of their status in order to obtain illegal privileges or provide another official or officials or citizens not holding such positions with such benefits. Corruption rather often shows in the direct money stealing or stealing of other state or social resources.

Since a lot of actions considered as corruption are performed without breaking the law, in the framework of the authorities that the officials are provided with, sometimes it is impossible to prove legally that they turn something to their personal advantage. As a result, combating corruption only through criminal prosecutions of the officials is mostly inefficient and barely impacts the decrease in its overall level. Moreover, interpretation of some modern social practices or other as corruption actions is practically always subjective; it is made on the subjective criteria, in accordance with the stereotypes on the attitude towards corruption in one or another region etc.

The modern definitions of corruption do not link it directly to the crimes, although do not exclude such possibility. The following definition of corruption that is used in the practice of the EU seems to be more adequate for the present situation: “Corruption is the abuse by state, municipal or other public officials and employees (e.g. deputies) or commercial officials and employees (including the international ones) of their status in a view with the illegal obtainment of money or other gains (property, rights for possessing property, services or allowances, including non-property ones) or provision such officials with such privileges”.

This definition claims to describe all the officials and employees actions that are most often regarded as corruption. Although this definition does not solve all the problems of the corruption actions qualification, it reflects the modern understanding of corruption better than the legal one.

Corruption is becoming more diversified, thus being described and studied from different perspectives that can be called different interpretations of corruption. The most famous conceptions and understandings of corruption are the following:

— The judicial interpretation of corruption. It is included in the legislative norms, for example, in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In this sense, corruption is regarded as a crime linked to the abuse of the official position or the official social status in his personal or corporate interests. Most often such interest comes down to the illegal gains obtainment, whereas law violations or crimes to some types or other of getting or giving bribes. The object of bribery or commercial corruption along with money, bonds or other property, can be gains and services of the nonproperty character that are provided on a gratis basis, but are to be paid for (providing travel packages, repairing an apartment, building a summer house). The gains of the property character might be the following: undercharge of the transferred property, of the objects being privatized, the decrease in the rents, or in the percentage rates for the use of the bank loans etc.

— The economic interpretation of corruption. Corruption is viewed as the activity of the state or municipal level or business officials incurring financial losses or losses of other state resources, local communities’ or business resources, damage of the country’s economic development on the whole and in some cases also the social sphere’s development. Jeopardy of the corruption actions is most often evaluated on the base of the financial losses level.

— The interpretation of corruption from the management perspective. From this angle, corruption is often regarded as violation or destruction of the normal, normative managerial process that is described in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, laws and other legal documents, which often causes its systematic inefficiency due to the fact that the personal and corporate interests begin to dominate over the social and state ones.

— The sociological understanding of corruption. In this framework, corruption is the use of the informal connections and relationships in solving political, state and municipal problems in favor of personal and corporate interests. Corruption procedures are rather often linked to favoritism and clientelism, especially in the sphere of making cadres’ decisions and further activity of the officials who obtained their positions in the respective way.

Each of the mentioned interpretations of corruption is limited, but reflects some substantial characteristics of the modern corruption. All of the understandings together describe this phenomenon rather comprehensively.

In the Russian state administration and law-enforcement agencies the judicial interpretation of corruption holds the predominant position. Therefore, in the public declarations of politicians and governmental officials corruption is in the first place connected with committing crimes, bribery and thus, with criminal prosecutions and detentions of the corruption involving officials. It is supposed that the higher the position, the more progress in fighting corruption the law-enforcement agencies make. Sharing such interpretation of corruption, the mass media seek to present the information on detentions and criminal prosecutions over corruption as sensations, especially against the officials of high-rank. In this case, the everyday corruption comes down to bribery between citizens and small bureaucrats that is very rarely punished. In the public sphere as well as in the mass media the belief that in our country corruption can not be uprooted became very popular. Under such conditions, the counteraction against corruption is totally inefficient, its level is increasing.

The limitation of the judicial understanding of corruption, in particular, manifests in the fact that in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation corruption is a collective structure of a crime that embraces such official malfeasances as bribery and the abuse of the official position rather than an independent one. Therefore, at present time there is no clear and accurate judicial definition of corruption, which inhibits the judicial qualification of corruption actions in practice. Probably that since corruption is a complicated social phenomenon it is just impossible to define it clearly and accurately, which creates additional difficulties for combating corruption.

The economic interpretation of corruption has lately spread in the public sphere: the public statements of politicians and the mass media link the losses emanating from corruption to the problems of the Russian economic development and the low level of the internal and external investments into it. The mathematical models of corruption are being constructed, the programs of the anti-corruption activity are being elaborated that in many respects ignore the motives and real procedures of corruption actions, the specificity of corruption connections and relationships in the society. As a result, corruption is being increasingly perceived in the power and administration structures (through the mass media also in the society) as an illegal and amoral economic activity that is linked to the involving parties’ obtaining financial and material resources. In practice discussing corruption most frequently comes down to discussing bribery in some forms or other. The reason is easy to understand: it is a bribe that clearly and discernibly demonstrates the financial and material resources, for the sake of which the corrupt officials establish corruption ties and relations. Such understanding of corruption is being promoted, in particular, by certain potential large investors, for whom the corruption costs of entering the Russian market and acting within it are becoming too high.

Other concepts of corruption are presented in the Russian public sphere rather sparsely. Since they describe the characteristics of the modern Russian corruption that are of no less importance than the judicial and economic ones, the citizens, businessmen and bureaucrats obtain the inadequate idea and incomprehensive knowledge about corruption and its negative implications. In its turn, the lack of the adequate idea and profound knowledge about corruption by the citizens, business and bureaucrats does not encourage decrease in its level in Russia.

Corruption in Russia is caused by the inseparability of power and ownership

The specificity of Russian corruption lies in the fact that it is tightly connected with the bureaucratic system of the state government, which, on the one hand, shapes the types of corruption posing the greatest danger to the state and society, and on the other hand, often encourages transferring, or copying such corruption practices into the spheres of private business and noncommercial activity.

The analysis of Russian public administration of the latest time period indicates that the country leadership views the bureaucratic public administration as the only possible one, as an example of efficient management. Otherwise, it is hard to explain its adherence to the permanent reforms of the structure and forms of the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation, the Russian Government, ministries and agencies, which is motivated according to the mass media by the aspiration to improve the management of some branches or other, and to secure the solution to the social problems.

In accordance with the normative models of bureaucracy, the political government of the country indeed could count on the public administration improvement through the optimization of its structure and organizational forms. One of the universally acknowledged models of the bureaucratic administration being the most rational and absolutely necessary for the management of the society is known to belong to Max Weber2. According to this model, the bureaucratic activity implies forming the hierarchy, in which the lowerlevel bureaucrats obey the higher-level ones and have to rigorously fulfill their orders. All the members of the bureaucratic hierarchy have to subordinate only to the impersonal order established by the law, technical rules and other norms. Such impersonal order rules out the dependence from the personality of the boss, offers subordination only in the framework of the practical competence, which should be objectively divided within the official duties and in accordance to the level of qualification. It also implies the entire alienation of bureaucrats from the administrative resources and obtainment of property, alienation of the official ownership from the personal one, and the impossibility of personal gain on the official position and so on. According to Max Weber, such organization of the public administration system and big business is the most efficient “in a sense of accuracy, stability, discipline, fitness and reliability, intensiveness and extensiveness of labor, in its formally universal application towards any tasks... Bureaucratic administration means supremacy on the base of knowledge: it is what constitutes its specific rational foundation”2 Ibidem.2.

The first Russian President Boris Yeltsin conducted the state administration through the bureaucratic system, and the President Vladimir Putin continued this tradition seeking to strengthen the influence of bureaucracy over the state decision-making and executing. However, within the Russian practice of the public administration all the principles of the rational bureaucracy are permanently violated and supplemented with some peculiarities.

One of the socio-cultural specifics of Russia, for example, is the fact that over many centuries of the Russian history the power had been entirely merged with ownership. The Great Dukes and Tsars of Muscovia were to the full extent the owners of their country. There were subjects to the sovereigns rather than citizens in Rus and the monarchial Russia. In the period of Kiev Russia the Dukes owned both people and territories where they lived, divided territories into the parts in order to give gifts to their subjects and to enable their children with power, which led to the increase in the feudal fragmentation. In the future, the separation of power in Russia into the power performed in the form of sovereignty and the power in the form of the ownership occurred much slower than in the Western states and can not be held for terminated now4.

In the Soviet period any social groups except for some of their representatives and sometimes except only for their leaders did not differ in the level of their freedoms: all of them in fact were not citizens, but rather subjects to the state. The Soviet system of the state power and administration was based exactly on the power of bureaucracy3 Yasin: 2002: 41.3, although the CPSS employees had always tried to prove the existence of the people power in the USSR. Under such conditions the bureaucracy in Russia until the end of the Soviet period did not need any official grounds for possessing the ownership. The entire ownership belonged to the state, whereas the bureaucracy managed it. Such management of the ownership was practically the same as the possession of the ownership: any decisions regarding the ownership that was called the state one in practice were made exclusively in the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy that was often called the party-economic nomenclature.

The Soviet government was in fact the only real owner and manager of the social resources possessing the unique opportunities of their accumulation and renewal. Regarding the social dominance and supremacy, these resources were and are being used by the state as capitals4 Rimsky 1995: 107—108.4. In accordance with the conception of Pierre Bourdieu, “state is the termination phase of the process of concentrating different types of capital: physical enforcement or means of violation (army, police), economic, cultural or, to put it more accurately, informational, symbolic capitals, that is the concentration that itself makes the state the owner of a sort of metacapital that gives power over other types of capitals and their owners”5 Bourdieu 1999: 132—133.5.

The most clear is the nature of the economic capital i.e. the resources that are of the economic character such as money and goods in their broad sense. The resources of the cultural nature, in particular, education and the level of culture can be viewed as the cultural capital. The accumulated and concentrated information constitutes the informational capital that is gaining more and more importance in the modern technologies of the large systems management including the state and business. Informational capital also includes means of producing, reforming, transferring and reproducing information (mass media, archives, libraries, mail, telegraph, telephone etc.). The capital of the physical enforcement comprises the law-enforcement structures of the state: army, internal troops, police, and secret agencies. However, within the human history that had been developing for many thousands of years physical violation appeared to be gradually replaced with (except for crisis situations) the symbolic one. The symbolic capital implies the resources, the possession of which is acknowledged by the society as the right for dominance: positions, titles, awards, diplomas, certificates, prestige, reputation, honors etc.6 Rimsky 1995: 107.6

The Soviet political system monopolized and concentrated within the power structures all of these basic and even not basic capitals, thereby having created the associate capital of the state power. It is this capital that was controlled by the party-state nomenclature gaining the material and cultural goods that corresponded to its position7 Ibid.: 17.7.

The bureaucracy viewed the period of the Russian reforms just as the official change of the way of managing the ownership in the state: it was necessary to separate the private property from the state one. One could manage the private property only by possessing it or putting its owners under the control of bureaucracy. After several years of a certain weakening of the power the former and present bureaucrats successfully regained their control over the property through possessing it, having replaced the temporary bureaucrats of the beginning of the reforms and established control over those private owners that left.

As the results of the post-communist development of the country demonstrate, the Russian bureaucracy appeared to be stronger than the new democratic institutions: their establishment did not lead to the separation of ownership from power, while with the help of various corruption schemes the representatives of bureaucracy that was mostly formed in the Soviet period control this property or manage it directly. Therefore, not a single large business in the country can be successful without being overseen by the authorities.

Corruption as decay of power

In Russia the inseparability of power and ownership as well as the dominance of bureaucracy in the system of public decision-making significantly encourage developing and broadening corruption.

In our country corruption has long ago become sort of a norm in politics, economy, and social life. The Russian corruption seems to be most accurately characterized by the oldest, even ancient ideas about this phenomenon. According to one of the versions, the term “corruption” derives from the combination of Latin words “correi” (the solidarity of the several) and “rumpere” (ruin, damage, violate, cancel). The emerged separate term “corrumpere” was applied within the Roman law to define the joint activity of people aiming at “damaging” the normal judicial proceeding or the process of management of the social affairs8 Shevchenko 2000: 17.8. Another leading feature of corruption is immanent in the definition of Niccollo Machiavelli who viewed corruption as the use of the public opportunities in the private interests9 Ibidem.9, which can be both personal and corporate. Therefore, the most adequate approach reflecting the Russian situation seems to be acknowledging as corruption any actions that violate the normal, normative regulation or development of one or another branch, sphere of activity and the country on the whole through using public opportunities for the realization of personal or corporate interests at the expense of the social ones10 The normal, normative regulation or development of one or another sphere of activity and the country on the whole can be considered the one that at the moment is stated in the valid international documents and agreements, plans and programs of development of our country, its separate branches and regions, in the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the laws that are based on the former and other normative documents.10.

Thus, one should interpret corruption as any actions under any circumstances aimed at deriving profit from the position in the system of the public authorities or the social status tied to the former for the covetous purposes. In this case, corruption will include not only illegal, but also unethical actions as well as those actions that our society views as unjust. Of course, the law-breaking actions are the only ones that can be legally punished, but corruption goes beyond that: the possibility of the judicial qualification of corruption activity should not be its only criterion.

Corruption should comprise any actions that encourage decay of power and of the public administration system, destruction of the mechanisms that secure the power structures serving the social good, the authorities functioning exclusively in the personal or corporate interests as well as the interests of the very narrow social groups.

Such understanding of corruption helps to reveal features of its systematic character in our society and state, which is proved by the following widely spread phenomena:

1. The state policy is directly dictated by the private and corporate interests of the oligarchic groups;

2. The shadow incomes constitute the basic and necessary part of the incomes of almost all bureaucrats;

3. Incompliancewiththelawsorevasionofcompliancewiththemwithinall spheres of activity has turn to the norm;

4. The executive power actively uses the “shadow” forms of mobilizing incomes and encouraging citizens, business and lower-level bureaucrats to reach the desirable results11 These are a little modified theses from the article: Kuzminov 2001: 221.11.

The Russian corruption as a social phenomenon emerges and maintains on the level of the informal connections that constitute the foundation of the society. It can be found within every level of government as well as in the systems for its self-regulation. Corruption in Russia has become a part of the citizens lifestyle. All of them, regardless of the social statuses and positions, live under the conditions of committing corruption actions and procedures, which they are mostly often forced to do by the power. On this level, corruption usually takes shape of bribes or the use of the social goods in the personal, family or clan interests. Bureaucrats and public politicians possess many more opportunities for committing corruption actions, and corruption manifestations themselves are much more diversified here.

Russian corruption networks

The development of the public administration bureaucratic system in Russia has become one of the most important factors of expanding the activity of the so called corruption networks12 Satarov 2002: 8.12. It manifests in the development of the informal and illegal interconnections and interdependencies between bureaucrats vertically, within administration in one agency or another structure, as well as horizontally, within different levels of administration between various agencies and other structures13 The more detailed description of this social phenomenon can be found in the section “Korruptsionnye seti (“Corruption Networks”) in the Sungurov 2000: 72—82.13. These interconnections and interdependencies are aimed at systematical conclusion of corruption deals usually with the purpose of the personal enrichment, distribution of the budget resources for the benefit of the structures that are the corruption network members, increase in their illegal incomes, or provision the financial-credit and commercial structures that also enjoy the corruption network membership with the competitive advantages.

The services of the corruption networks are usually in demand and are provided to the centers of decision-making that belong to the state administration and business. Moreover, a lot of people who make decisions on different levels of state and society management system are members of such corruption networks. There are different ways of the bureaucrats’ involvement into the corruption networks. Sometimes corruption networks bribe the certain bureaucrats in the interests of some structures, but much more often bureaucrats have to get involved into the networks of mutual services without obtaining or transferring bribes because otherwise, they will no longer be able to hold the same positions. Being forced to participate in the corruption networks, usually bureaucrats also reach their own self-interests as a side-product: they usually get some part of the corruption network incomes in the form of illegal money that is paid proportionally to their statuses and roles in the corruption deals.

The networks of the officials that are connected by the mutual commitments have always existed and exist in all countries. The special feature of the development period in Russia is that the much bigger percentage of the gross national product (GNP) than in the developed countries that comes through the corruption networks (rather than through the normative contract relations between power and business). The analysis of the ownership and expenditures of the bureaucrats in the Russian state apparatus elucidates that their real incomes substantially exceed the legal ones. Furthermore, judging by the level of the legal incomes of the Russian high-ranking bureaucrats, their shadow incomes obtained from the corruption networks became the main part of their real disposable incomes. Even the relatively honest bureaucrats who do not accept bribes for any services obtain such significant parts of their incomes through the corruption networks that they will not be able to exist outside of these networks and, therefore, resist them. As a result, the public officials in their work are driven by their commitments to the corruption networks no less than by the state interests. This is the main reason for the state administrative apparatus inefficiency, and this inefficiency is progressing14 Kuzminov 2001: 223.14. Along with that, bribery as mentioned above is no longer the main form of corruption in Russia since it is legally punishable and much less efficient than obtaining illegal incomes through the participation in the corruption networks.

The major danger for the society is posed by the system of mutual commitments that is formed through providing mutual services within the corruption networks. Bureaucrats seem to believe that those businessmen who give them bribes will always subordinate to them. However, at some point in time the continuation of such normal relationships makes bureaucrats fulfill the requirements of businessmen or representatives of other pressure groups since bureaucrats appear to be involved in the system of mutual commitments. The services are usually provided on the voluntary basis, but in the extreme cases one of the sides resorts to blackmail, threats of mudslinging, and other means of pressure.

Each Russian corruption network usually includes 3 main subsystems: the commercial or financial structure that deals with the obtained benefits and allowances and converts them into money; the group of state or municipal bureaucrats that provide a front for decision-making; the security front, or the security groups that include representatives of the special services and other law-enforcement bodies. Such group is often called “backing” of the respective corruption network. The front group includes bureaucrats whose status allows making decisions that are necessary. The corruption networks normally have their own security agencies. Their main function is to assure the inevitability of punishment for those who try to violate their commitments or even abandon the corruption network.

Since various institutions participate in elaborating most of the decisions, the interagency corruption groups emerge. The largest corruption networks comprise at least two or three ministries or agencies. This method of creating corruption networks are maintained by the overall inclination of the ministries and agencies towards corruption, in which the beginning specialists relatively soon adopt the principles and methods of their long-standing colleagues and bosses. The corruption networks based on the single scheme with clearly set goals always appear to be the most efficient ones.

The certain composition and structure of the corruption network most frequently depends on the specificity of those spheres, where it obtains its financial support from. In some variants, corruption networks included top officials of the largest commercial banks, Russian government bureaucrats of high-rank, and regional administrations. The corruption network usually functions within the closed cycle: receipt of order, appropriation of finances, return of the financial resources back to the corruption network and again — receipt of order. Implementing these cycles the corruption network fulfills the most important task of its activity — the enrichment of its members.

Today the corruption networks are permanently expanding, deepening and improving. There are two main ways of forming corruption networks: from above and from below.

The construction of corruption network from below occurs in the following way. Any relatively successful business in Russia aiming expansion needs to enter the higher level of connections and contacts in the sphere of bureaucrats. The search for connections and contacts among bureaucrats is conducted through the tried and tested mechanism, such as invitations to go to the restaurant, recreation facility, giving expensive gifts, bribes etc. Each bureaucrat usually accumulates several companies or banks whose interests he lobbies. If this bureaucrat does not possess enough connections, he starts to establish connections in the same way that the above mentioned bodies do with the higher-level bosses using financial support of the structures that he promotes. This is how the local or regional corruption network grew up to the network of the Russian level. There might be a lot of such networks, and the same bureaucrats might be involved into several corruption networks.

As for the “from above” method, the corruption network is constructed by the officials of high rank who conduct the recruitment among their subjects, appeal to the high-rank bureaucrats of other agencies with the same request, sometimes act through the orders etc. The goal of such actions is providing the operations connected to the formation of the corrupt network with cadres. The corruption network gradually reaches such level that provides for the direct obtainment and distribution of the financial recourses, and normally, the corruption networks do not expand further descending to the lower levels.

In Russia the corruption networks with rather complicated organization have emerged, and they control rather significant resources. Let’s briefly describe one of the examples of the large corruption network that in many respects determines the policy of many regions in the country15 The example is taken from the informal interviews conducted in 1999 within the research study of the Foundation INDEM “Diagnotics of Corruption in Russia”. One can find the brief results of this research in Satarov 2002.15. Its center is represented by one of the big commercial companies that exists in the form of the system with many structures, including the off-shore ones. This company belongs to an emigrant, two leaders of the criminal groupings and two very influential businessmen. The latter are the executive directors of the company. In terms of the size of its business, the company can be compared with the Russian largest financial-industrial groups. It entirely possesses one of the subjects of the Russian Federation implying that it determines the turnout of the elections, the legislative process, controls its law-enforcement structures and the whole big and medium business in this region. Through this subject of the Russian Federation the company supports the socio-political movement of the certain political orientation. It has a huge business in another region and the governor of this region supports another socio-political movement of the opposite orientation. The company also possesses large portions of property in the third region, through which it maintains the third socio-political movement. The same company directly and indirectly, through various social organizations, supports the fourth socio-political movement. One of the Moscow banks that is also at the company’s disposal helps to maintain the direct connection to the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation. Therefore, the structures of this company in fact constitute the corruption network that covers the sphere of business, finances, federal and regional power structures as well as political organizations.

This example demonstrates that the endless discussions in the mass media on the problems whether business ascends to power or not are simply meaningless. The Russian politics is under control of the corruption networks, which include both bureaucrats and businessmen who act in concert with each other.

Corruption at different levels of the state and municipal administration

The situation when the lower-level bureaucrats took bribes and shared part of it with the higher-level bureaucrats existed only in the first 2—4 years of the development of the market economy in Russia. At that time it was normal when the access to the higher-level bureaucrats was reached through his subjects. Such scheme limited the opportunities of the competitors to get the access towards the high-ranking officials. After that the financial opportunities of the oligarchic groups grew so much that reaching top officials did not require mediators anymore. Moreover, the amounts within bribes also increased so much that the higher-level officials lost any interest in the money offered by the lower-level corruption. Nowadays the bureaucrats of low ranks do not attract the oligarchic groupings: they can afford to buy bureaucrats of any rank.

As a result, today the low-level corruption is separated from the corruption networks. In fact, policemen, plumbers, heads of housing offices and other officials deal with exactions from the population on the low level. Part of this money can be transferred to the higher-level bureaucrats, but it is not that significant already.

The low-level corruption usually reaches the level of the municipal or district director. This might refer to the head of the police department that controls the region, the director of the sanitary-epidemiological inspection service etc. The bribe payments for these directors usually do not reach the respective ministries such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service of Russia. The corruption networks lack transparent subordination since the higher-level structures control other and much larger financial flows. Moreover, the higher-level structures rather often share their incomes with the lower-level structures (for example, through the respective funds). The support for the lower-level structures aims at securing the operation on the municipal and district level as well as maintaining the loyalty of the lower ranking bureaucrats. The operations on the municipal and district level are conducted relatively rare and sometimes are not conducted at all. The lack of financial support from above can cause the collapse of the whole system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Federal Security Service of Russia, tax police and many other ministries due to the low wages of the bureaucrats.

It is not true that the lower corruption is less harmful than the higher one. The corruption within education and medicine shapes and maintains discrimination of the Russian citizens according to their social status and level of life, violating the constitutional principle of the equality and the overall accessibility of the respective services. This position is contrary to the goals of liberalization and lures Russia in a sort of institutional trap when the state institutions are neither efficient nor being able regardless of any reforms to solve the most important citizens problems.

Overcoming corruption in Russia in many respects is hardened by the fact that within the systems of education and medicine corruption became a norm, and in some cases the only way to receive nominally free services that the state is to provide its citizens with. At the same time, it will be impossible to consider the fulfillment of the anti-corruption programs successful without combating corruption within education and medicine. Indeed, corruption in these spheres not only encourages a negative moral-ethical situation in the society, exerts the destructive impact over the public administration system and decreases the prospects for the economic growth of the country, but also provokes the mass violation of the constitutional rights and freedoms of the citizens. In this sense corruption in education and medicine poses one of the main dangers to the very existence of the Russian society and the Russian statehood. Therefore, overcoming it should become one of the main state anticorruption programs priorities.

The higher-level bureaucrats who participate in the corruption relations on the highest power level can use the lower-level corruption relationships for settling their problems, for example, termination of the undesirable case that was initiated in the district police department or tax police. The direct orders to close such cases are no longer in practice due to the high risk for those who give them. The corruption networks work more efficiently: through bribery, or through inclusion into the system of the informal relations. In these situations, for instance, criminal cases on the district level are terminated single-handed by the heads of this level. The higher ranking bosses could not get into trouble, whereas the concrete performers know that they are always under protection of the corruption network they work for.

As a result of the interaction between the upper and lower corruption the phenomenon of mafia killings between criminal groupings aiming at physical destruction of the competitors is gradually waning. Since the whole business is already in fact controlled by the state structures, it is divided, and nothing new is being created, within the market there is a struggle between the “backings” of the middle level that is the structures that are in charge of decision-making and security in the corruption networks. Thus, the struggle with the competitors turns into the struggle between these “backings” with each other.

Strengthening of the bureaucratic procedures of decision-making at the expense of the democratic ones

The bureaucratic system always offers its own schemes of interpretation and behavior model of all the state citizens’, including high-rank officials. These schemes and models are reflected in the documents that in fact shape the bureaucratic reality. Within the bureaucratic reality the documents structure social facts in accordance to the state canon and set the determined schemes of the interpretation not only of behavior, but also of the reality itself. The bureaucratic reality is shaped so professionally that bureaucrats, politicians, and ordinary citizens view it as the cohesive world, which schemes and models determine and substantially restrict the opportunities of structuring and unifying the social experience. These schemes and models seem to be exclusive for the officials in the power structures and administrations of all levels: the federal, the regional, and the local one16 See Orlova 1999: 96.16. The bureaucrats of all administrative levels do not only substitute in their activity the bureaucratic version of reality that is laid out in the documents for the objective reality, but also rather successfully impose their view of reality on politicians, journalists, and through them on the most citizens as well.

Within the consciousness of bureaucrats there is not only the bureaucratic reality, but also the objective reality that provides the bureaucratic system with an access to the resources necessary for its functioning which range from the stationery to the need to obtain the medical service and education for themselves and their families, to implement the projects and programs of the state development in order to legitimize their professional activity. The bureaucratic reality often inhibits conducting the objective analysis of the real problems and find solutions to them. For this purpose the bureaucratic system uses corruption that does not come down to bribes and violations of law that was also promoted by the same corruption system, but also includes the abnormal state administration, making and carrying out the decisions that destroy this administration in favor of personal or corporate interests. One can argue that the bureaucratic system itself breeds corruption in the public administration on purpose since otherwise, it would be impossible to conduct any real projects or programs.

The democratic system of public administration in the modern interpretation implies participation of citizens and structures of the civil society in preparing, taking, executing and control over the decisions execution. In this sense, the democratic system of state governance confronts the bureaucratic one always pointing out to bureaucracy the limitation of its version of reality as well as opportunities of solving social problems based on the bureaucratic schemes of comprehending reality. Therefore, the development of the democratic system of state governance is able to decrease the level of corruption. However, our country has not managed to make progress in fighting the corruption.

In the post-communist Russia the bureaucratic and democratic tendency of development have always been and still are in the contradiction, which in most cases was resolved for the benefit of bureaucratic procedures of making and implementing decisions. The main reasons for such situation lie in the lack within the arsenal of politicians of any, other than bureaucratic, ways of governance of the modern state as well as rather efficient, centuries-tested methods of imposition of bureaucratic schemes of thinking and ideas about reality on them. However, these schemes and problems appear to be incapable of solving the most important strategic problems of the country. So the leaders of the country again come to the conclusion that the current democratic procedures of state governance which are bureaucratic in reality are not efficient. That’s why in our country it is bureaucratic procedures that are increasingly assuming the dominant position in the process of making and executing state and political decisions.

In such situation, the power and state administrative structures often ignore the priorities and interests of most citizens, which means that despite numerous declarations on the adherence to the public good, the bureaucratic system is not and will not be capable in the nearest future to tackle the country strategic problems. These problems have not been systematically defined yet; different groups of the political and oligarchic lobbyists have different versions of their interpretation, resources that are necessary for their solution, scenarios of the actions etc.

The Russian reforms were conducted on the base of the top public officials orders, in the first place Boris Yeltsin and the laws that passed in the State Duma and the Federal Assembly on a submission from the President. Under the presidency of V. Putin the number of such orders providing for the implementation of the reforms decreased, and the respective decisions appeared in the form of the laws or other bylaw normative acts. However, the laws and orders that were accepted are performed only to some extent or not fulfilled at all. One of the most important reasons for such situation is that in Russia due to the weakness and underdevelopment of the civil society structures the implementation and enforcement of these decisions has always been and is secured now by bureaucracy.

The bureaucratic apparatus, especially the apparatus of the executive power, gradually gained the predominant position in elaborating drafts of the public decisions. Therefore, the bureaucratic procedures used to determine and still determine direction, efficiency and value of the reforms in Russia. It is the same bureaucratic procedures that in many respects provoked discrepancy between the goals, tasks, methods, results of the state and administrative authorities’ functioning, on the one hand, and their normative, official resolutions, on the other hand17 See Afanasyev 2000: 180.17. It is largely the reason why the democratic power and administrative institutions established in Russia did not lead to the emergence of the democratic procedures of discussing, making, executing and enforcing decisions in the system of state and municipal administration.

Corruption and clientelism

One of the crucial factors influencing the Russian corruption is clientelism, the role and impact of which can be evaluated differently, but can not be ignored. Clientelism and corruption do not come down to each other, but corruption as a social phenomenon often emerges and develops under the conditions of clientelism as a special form of the organization of the society18 Shevchenko 2000: 47.18.

The Russian tradition of studying clientelism causes the practical rather than the research interest in it, in particular, a good deal of attention is paid to nomenclature and informal personal connections, description of the dependence of the employees from their bosses, ordinary citizens from the authorities representatives, allowances and privileges of the leaders, departmentalism, localism etc. Due to the highly confidential patron-client relations as well as their inevitable mythologization, for now they hardly ever become the subject of any scientific research. The demythologization of the patron-client relations as a result of conducting such scientific research occurs even less often, but still there are some opportunities of applying the science-based methodology towards analysis of clientelism19 The example of the methodological approach towards studying clientelism can be found in Afanasyev 2000.19. In the process of incriminating these or those officials or organizations, judicial proceedings, election campaigns information about the patron-client relations first being confidential might be exposed to public and become the subject of the scientific research.

Clientelism as well as corruption due to the complexity of this social phenomenon lacks the universally acceptable definition. We will interpret clientelism as a social phenomenon that is characterized by the formation of the special relations of dominance, supremacy and subordination. In these relations one side (patron) patronizes, whereas the other one is under tutelage. The status of the parties to these relationships is rather contextual and changeable: patrons and clients are interdependent; in some cases, for instance, clients have an opportunity to make a patron act in their interests at the expense of his own.

Patron-client relations are characterized by the distinction between patrons and clients on the base of their social status that allows patrons to dominate over clients. However, this predominance is caused not only and not that much by physical enforcement, but rather by the symbolic enforcement — through acknowledging the leading role of patrons in their personal, private, informal relations with clients, their possessing and managing certain resources. The important feature of patron-client relations is mutual services provision with those services being complex and provided on the base of the enforcement, usually the symbolic one, as well as voluntarily and not being differentiated according to their types and kinds. Patrons normally protect their clients on the base of public as well as private agreements between them, while clients to a greater or lesser degree maintain activity of their patrons. Patronclient relations can be both formal and (more often) informal, even semi-legal. Along with that patron-client relations are marked by the mutual solidarity, sympathy and support for each other20 The understanding of clientelism that is close to the one suggested is used in the book of Afanasyev mentioned above.20.

Clientelism does not cover the whole content of the Russian corruption. Nevertheless, it is patron-client relations that constitute the most stable social mechanism that enables existence and expansion of the corruption practice. This peculiar feature of the Russian corruption stands out most clearly in the relations between the local authorities and small business. The right to carry on business in Russia can be obtained only from the respective bureaucrat21 Klyamkin, Timofeev 2000: 93.21 who in fact will become the patron of the future entrepreneur. On the other hand, such situation always entails in paying bribes to the bureaucrat for his making the beneficial decision22 Ibid.: 94.22. Bureaucrats often view business that they have given their approval for as a subsidiary of their administration, in particular, they demand and practically always obtain free services from this business for themselves23 Ibid.: 97.23. The relations between small and medium business, on the one side, and municipal and sometimes regional authorities, on the other side, are built in such a way that entrepreneurs often have to keep within their staff some special professionals for maintaining contacts with the state and municipal authoritative structures24 Ibid.: 99.24. The idea that such staff member only deals with transferring bribes to bureaucrats is too narrow. The most successful businessmen have long been familiar with other methods of interaction with the authorities that in terms of their form strongly resemble symbolical demonstrations of their subordinate position to patron-bureaucrats. Such actions include permanent courtesies to bureaucrats, consultations with them on possible problems, joint tea-drinking, small gifts for them and their secretaries etc.25 Ibid.: 101.25 However, the size and price of such gifts are in many respects determined by the respective power structure in the system of public or municipal administration: the higher the level, the more expensive the gifts (besides bribes) to bureaucrats have to be.

Following the old Soviet tradition, citizens, bureaucrats as well as businessmen are more comfortable with clientelist relations than the democratic ones based on law and adherence to human rights as well as compliance with the state interests. This conclusion is supported by the certain trends in the development of the Russian business that turned from the direct bribery of the authorities representatives and control of the criminal structures that is frequently defined as “front” to the practice of the long-term alliances between bureaucrats and certain businessmen, often of the corporate type when power and business pursue common interests rather than civilized relations with the authorities26 Kuzminov 2001: 224.26. However, within such corporate relations the power normally dominates over the business.

Patron-client relations form specific networks of personal connections. Sometimes such connections imply bribing a certain bureaucrat in the interests of an organization or private business, but much more often he has to get involved into the network of mutual services without taking or transferring bribes since otherwise, he will not be able to hold his position. However, inclusion into the corruption networks also serves his own interests: usually he gets a certain percentage of the corruption network incomes in the form of illegal payments made proportionally to his status and role in the corruption deals. The popularity of clientelism in Russia also maintains the popularity of the corruption networks.

In Russia not only business, but also every region as a social unit has in fact become a client of the head of its administration. Both the head of the administration as well as the citizens who live in the region understand these relations. The sitting governor or president can lose only in case he demonstrates incompliance with his commitments to patron. As long as clientist relations remain and their sides act in accordance with their private and informal agreements, the voters trust the leader of the region and support him. The new system of the regional governors elections through the nomination of the candidature by the president and its confirmation within the session of the regional parliaments that Putin introduces some years ago is gradually turning regional leaders into the president’s patrons. The Russian citizens comprehend this alteration and practically always support Putin’s initiatives regarding cadres.

How to counteract against corruption

Combating corruption in Russia was never systematic neither in the Soviet nor in the post-Soviet period. The practice of the so called fight against corruption, the necessity for which was repeatedly emphasized by the public officials and in the framework of which various normative acts passed only led to the outspread of corruption in the country. Despite the fact that the peculiarities of Russian corruption described above make the efficient fight against it rather problematic, it is likely to be impossible to solve the strategic problems of the society and state in the country without reducing corruption. Moreover, corruption as a social phenomenon will encourage the emergence and development of the crisis situations in the country as well as inhibit their solutions.

The system approach towards combating corruption is needed. Therefore, the authorities should permanently develop and broaden transparency and social control over their activity, especially in the sphere of forming and spending budgets of the federal, regional, and local levels. One of the most crucial factors of curtailing the shadow economy and manifestations of corruption linked to the former could become gradual, but substantial decrease in taxes accompanied by reinforcing control over spending budget resources within all levels of administration. As a result, informal payments of the private business to the state and municipal officials would be reduced. The alteration of the legislation and practical activity of the state and municipal administration system targeted at minimizing the opportunities of bureaucrats to evaluate situations on their own, appoint allowances for citizens and businessmen, tax related and other payments, the size of customs payments etc. could encourage the reduction of the corruption level.

Corruption can not be overcome without reforming and adapting the bureaucratic administrative system towards solving real problems of the country through introducing democratic institutions, above all free, fair and clean elections. However, in this sphere the bureaucratic system also appears to be stronger than the new democratic institutions so far since it still manages the associate capital to the state power.

Corruption can not be uprooted without purposeful counteraction against the clientelist model of the state and corporate administration, without structuring the everyday citizens life and their gradual replacement by the democratic model.

Today the Russian electoral system still functions in a way that the level of the political competition decreases with each electoral cycle. Nevertheless, competition and transparency of the elections and within the whole political process are important factors of counteracting electoral corruption. Reinforcing the civil society structures and its influence over the political process is of no less significance in combating corruption. It is this reinforcing that on the one hand, is capable of forming responsible voters, and on the other hand, securing compliance with the real interests of citizens during the elections.

Unfortunately, at the moment the development of the Russian legislation and practice of the social life move in one direction, in the direction of the subsequent exclusion of the citizens’ impact on the process of making and enforcing decisions. The following scenario of the development of the situation is the most plausible one so far. The lack of the power transparency and even the lack of the citizens’ desire to somehow impact its decisions create a sort of institutional trap27 Polterovich 2000: 39.27 when any reforms of the institutions of power, finances, business and social sphere will be unable to resolve the strategic problems in the respective spheres. Corruption leads and will lead to the situation when social institutions will be in fact self-destructive. The practice of the corruption behavior on all levels of the political, economic and social life will be expanding and making the uncorrupted behavior unbeneficial and even impossible. Such situation can be confidently viewed as corruption turning into the major obstacle on the way of the development of the Russian society and state.


Afanasyev M.N. 2000. Klientelizm i rossiyskaya gosudarstvennost [Clientelism and Russian Statehood]. — M.

Bourdieu P. 1999. Dukh gosudarstva: genezis i struktura byurokraticheskogo polya. [Rethinking the State: Genesis and Structure of the Bureaucratic Field] // Poetika i politika. — M., SPb.

Klyamkin I.M., Timofeev L.M. 200. Tenevaya Rossiya: Ekonomikosotsiologicheskoe issledovanie [Shadow Russia: Economic-sociological Research Study]. — M.

Kuzminov Ya.I. 2001. Tezisy o korruptsii [These on Corruption] // Investitsionnyi klimat v perspective ekonomicheskogo rosta v Rossii. Kn. 1. — M.

Orlova G.A. 1999. Byurokraticheskaya realnost [Bureaucratic Reality] // Obschestvennye nauki i sovremennost. N 6.

Pivovarov Yu.S. 2000/2001. Russkaya vlast i istoricheskie tipy ee osmysleniya [Russian Power and Historical Types of its Comprehension] // Politeia. N 4.

Polterovich V.M. 2000. Institutsionalnaya dinamika i teoriya reform [Institutional Dynamics and Theory on Reforms] // Evolutsionnaya ekonomika i “meynstim”. Sbornic docladov. — M.

Rimsky V.L. 1995. Rossiyskaya vlast v predstavleniyah grazhdan [The Russian Power from the Perspective of the Citizens] // Rossiyskiy monitor: Arhiv sovremennoy politiki. Vyp. 6. — M.

Satarov G.A. 2002. Diagnostika rossiyskoy korruptsii: Sotsiologicheskiy analiz [Diagnostics of the Russian Corruption: the Sociological Analysis]. — M.

Shevchenko V. Algoritm vybora: svoi i chuzhie ili chestnye i ostalnye. Posobie dlya nachinayuschih korruptsionerov i takih zhe bortsov s korruptsiey [The Algorithm of Choice: Friends and Foes, or the Honest and the Others. Manual for the Newcomers in the Sphere of Corruption and also for the Fighters against Corruption]. — Tomsk.

Sungurov A.Yu. (red.) 2000. Grazhdanskie initsiativy i predotvraschenie korruptsii [Civil Initiatives and Prevention of Corruption]. — SPb.

Weber M. 1988. Tipy gospodstva [The Types of Legitimate Rule] // Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya. N 5.

Yasin E.G. 2002. Rossiyskaya ekonomika: istoki i panorama rynochnyh reform: Kurs lektsiy [The Russian Economy: the Origins and the Overview of the Market Reforms. The Course of Lectures]. — M.