Half of Russians believe bribery solves "problems"

MOSCOW Thu May 13, 2010 12:47pm EDT

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - More than half of Russians think bribing officials is the best way to "solve problems," according to a new poll.

Fifty-five percent of respondents to a Levada Center poll of 1,600 Russians said they believed that "bribes are given by everyone who comes across officials" in Russia.

President Dmitry Medvedev, halfway through his four-year term, has pledged to fight Russia's all-pervasive graft and build a law-abiding state, where everyone observes the rules rather than looking for ways around them.

But findings by the Levada Center showed that Russians still pay bribes to obtain better medical services, prefer to "buy" their driving licenses, bribe police when caught violating traffic rules, or pay to ensure that their child can dodge the draft or get a place at the right school.

Ten percent confessed they had even paid to arrange funerals for relatives or loved ones.

Only 10 percent of those polled believe that only "cheats and criminals" bribed officials and 30 percent said that those offering "cash in envelopes" are in fact "ordinary people who have no other way to solve their problems."

Watchdog Transparency International last November rated Russia, a G8 country, joint 146th out of 180 nations in its Corruption Perception Index, along with Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and five other developing nations.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Paul Casciato)

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