Recent weeks have seen the fall from grace of at least one top official, as well as the most sweeping set of allegations about official graft – involving several government agencies – to be revealed to the public in years. Some experts suggest that Vladimir Putin, now embarked on his third term as president, may be using his vast powers and political capital to finally confront Russia's most intractable scourge. Others argue that it's a public relations campaign at best, or more likely a cover for political score-settling among bureaucrats, which is traditionally the most common reason that explicit corruption charges surface in Russia.
Whatever the deeper political truth, the facts about everyday official graft so far revealed are truly shocking, and they provide some hard numbers to back up Pereverzeva's emotional assertions.
Earlier this month Russia's defense minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, was dismissed after investigators implicated him in a massive kickback scheme that allegedly embezzled almost $100-million through improper sales of military-owned properties. Mr. Serdyukov has not been charged, but several of his subordinates are facing serious criminal allegations.