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After Khordokovsky verdict, taking stock of business and corruption in Russia

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Like most Russian businessmen, Mr. Butovsky sees Khodorkovsky's case as an outlier in its extremity, but says that the daily toll of corruption and state interference that it symbolizes is harming Russia's economic prospects. "The business climate has been worsening all the last 15 years," he says. "Sometimes there are some small things but they add up and the result is atmosphere that is no good for business."

Corruption up, transparency down

How much worse? Transparency International's latest corruption index -- which surveys investor opinion about every country – placed Russia among the 20 most corrupt countries on earth, tied with countries like Kenya and Cambodia and just below Yemen, Libya, and Haiti. That was down eight spots from the year before, when President Dmitry Medvedev promised a "war on corruption."

The InDem Foundation in Moscow estimates that Russian businesses and individuals pay $318 billion in bribes every year, and in a survey released this fall by Pricewaterhouse Coopers 71 percent of foreign and local businesses reported being victims of "economic crime." That's double the rate reported in large, emerging market peers of Russia like China, Brazil, and India.

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