Russia needs honest bureaucrats and politicians
Why do officials lead such luxurious lifestyles, out of proportion to their salaries? The people of Russia really want an answer to that question. They want to hear an answer from the ultimate superior of all officials – the incumbent president – and from whoever replaces him.
The latest attack on the corrupt and the unrestrained at various levels of state administration (the Federal Customs Service, the Federation Council, regional leaders, and so on) is based on two underlying reasons. First, there’s the presidential election of 2008. For several years now, pollsters, analysts, and political consultants (including Kremlin-linked consultants) have been saying the same thing: what the people really want from the authorities these days isn’t higher wages and pensions or other improvements in their lives, but justice. The next election campaign will be based on a public restoration of justice.
Why do some people work honestly all their lives, while others can easily receive a briefcase containing $300,000 in exchange for services that aren’t part of their official job descriptions? An important point to note here is that Russian citizens regard state officials and bureaucrats as the source of the biggest corruption problem (not the oligarchs with their yachts, football clubs, supermodels, and oil-wells). Why do officials lead such luxurious lifestyles, out of proportion to their salaries? The people of Russia really want an answer to that question. They want to hear an answer from the ultimate superior of all officials – the incumbent president – and from whoever replaces him.
Thus, it’s not surprising to see the authorities responding to the wishes of the workers. Besides, from both the legal and technical standpoints, catching corrupt officials and displaying them to the world is much easier than fighting exhausting campaigns to bring down billionaires.
The second reason for the current purge is a problem encountered by those who have constructed Russia’s hierarchy of governance. By now, it’s obvious to everyone that within only a few years of its creation, the mechanism of governance has gathered so many corruption cobwebs that it requires urgent cleaning. And there are “only” two prerequisites for that: political will (it’s finally being shown – some people who used to be immune are now under investigation) and new personnel to replace those whose financial abuses and incompetence pose a serious threat to national security. Unless some honest people can be found and brought into government, the anti-corruption campaign of 2006 will go down in history as yet another case of all talk and no action.