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In Russia, the price of bribes rise as its corruption rating slides

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"Yes, the authorities have made loud declarations about fighting corruption, but there's a big discrepancy between words and reality," says Anton Pominov, a researcher with Transparency International's Russian branch. "It's not just us. Most reports by independent organizations on Russian corruption agree on one thing: nobody sees any effective action."

Medvedev's agenda

Medvedev, who came to power in 2008, has passionately argued that Russia needs to "modernize" its industrial base, social customs, and political institutions to survive in the 21st century.

The first order of business, he frequently says, is to eradicate the country's endemic culture of graft, bribe-taking, and official extortion, which experts estimate sucks upwards of $300 billion out of the economy each year.

"We are not used to saying 'we have a dream' in my country, but this is my political vision," Medvedev told a gathering of journalists and scholars a year ago. "[Corrupt officials] hold the power in Russia. Corruption has a systemic nature, deep historic roots. We should squeeze it out. The battle isn't easy but it has to be fought."

But the average price of a bribe has actually shot up this year, according to Russia's Interior Ministry, to 44,000 roubles ($1,450), up from 23,000 roubles ($750) in 2009.

Russian police opened 35,000 corruption cases in the first nine months of this year, which marks a jump of 17.5 percent over the same period last year, according to an Interior Ministry statement.

"We understand that you can’t overcome corruption in one year," Alexander Nazarov, deputy head of the ministry’s economic crimes department, told journalists Wednesday.

Culture of corruption

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