1 in 4 Russians paid bribe - survey
Moscow - Corruption is still rising in Russia despite the Kremlin's best efforts to fight it, with one in four Russians admitting to paying a bribe in the past year, a respected global watchdog reports.
Highlighting the scale of the problem, nearly one in five Russians said they were even forced to pay a bribe in court, the Transparency International survey showed.
But only 7% of the respondents said they had filed complaints about the corrupt behaviour of officials, the watchdog's director in Russia, Yelena Panfilova said at a presentation of the results on Thursday.
"We propose beefing up the protection of those who report corruption and increasing the punishment for those who conceal information about corrupt officials," Panfilova said.
Transparency International had earlier this year ranked Russia 154th according to a 178-country corruption perception index.
Russia now finds itself near the same level as Kenya and Cambodia and far behind such states as Colombia and Ethiopia.
The latest poll, conducted jointly with Gallup International, showed that corruption rose on the previous year in all the major sectors: health care, education, land and housing services, and the courts.
One in five Russians said they had to pay a bribe to ensure better health services, and nearly 18% said they were forced to pay a bribe in court.
About 26% said they had to bribe either the police or providers of health, education or housing services at some point during the year.
Nearly half of all respondents added that corruption had increased in their country in the past three years.
Russia's continued drop in the rankings comes despite President Dmitry Medvedev's promise after his 2008 election to make the endemic corruption his top target.
But the head of Medvedev's administration dismissed the rankings' importance in an interview published on Thursday, calling them subjective and biased against Russia.
"I respect agencies that investigate the corruption problem," Sergei Naryshkin told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, an official government daily.
"But the idea of ranking countries according to corruption levels, placing them in a certain order, is hard to accept," he added.
"I get the impression that people who decide the order in these rankings are basing their judgments on certain subjective criteria and not on scientific facts."
In a report released earlier this year, the Independent Association of Lawyers for Human Rights said corruption could amount to the equivalent of half of the country's gross domestic product, or $1.6 trillion.