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Gold Medal For International Bribing Goes To Russia

Russia garners top spot in the list of those countries whose businesses try to pay bribes when working abroad. There are two explanations: either Russians pay bribes out of habit, or because they couldn’t sell their products without them.

Gold Medal For International Bribing Goes To Russia

MOSCOW - Outperformed in so many ways, Russian companies apparently beat their foreign competitors in at least one activity: paying bribes for international deals.

"The Bribe Payers' Index 2011," a newly released study by the anti-corruption organization Transparency International, rates the likelihood that companies from 28 different countries will pay bribes while doing business abroad. On this score, the study found Russian companies are the most corrupt.

Kirik Kabanov, an official with Russia's anti-corruption office, says that Russian companies often give bribes simply out of habit. "There is an understanding of tradition, and a more or less convenient, common working method," he says. "Like Pavlov's dogs: once you teach them something, then they will behave similarly in other situations."

Still Kabanov said some business people also see a payoff as a way to stay ahead of the competition. "We are not going to cede territory to some Chinese company just because there it's OK to use corrupt channels to reach business goals," he said.

Dimitri Abzalov, a leading expert at the Center for Current Politics in Russia, has another take. He thinks that Russian companies have to pay bribes because their products are just not good enough.

"If we are talking about low worker productivity in Russia, and the unsatisfactory level of innovation, then it is obvious that there is a competitive problem with Russian products," Abzalov says. "The more effective Russian exports are, the less necessary bribes will be for sales and expansion."

The United States used to be one of the principal countries that tracked corruption, but in the past year both Britain and China have cracked down on bribes in the business world. International corruption is one of the main agenda items at Thursday's G-20 summit in Cannes, France.

Read the original article in Russian

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

Photo - Perry French

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A Naturalist's Defense Of The Modern Zoo

Zoos are often associated with animal cruelty, or at the very least a general animal unhappiness. But on everything from research to education to biodiversity, there is a case to be made for the modern zoo.

Photograph of a brown monkey holding onto a wired fence

A brown monkey hangs off of mesh wire

Marina Chocobar/Pexels
Fran Sánchez Becerril


MADRID — Zoos — or at least something resembling the traditional idea of a zoo — date back to ancient Mesopotamia. It was around 3,500 BC when Babylonian kings housed wild animals such as lions and birds of prey in beautiful structures known as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Ancient China also played a significant role in the history of zoos when the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) created several parks which hosted an assortment of animals.

In Europe, it wouldn't be until 1664 when Louis XIV inaugurated the royal menagerie at Versailles. All these spaces shared the mission of showcasing the wealth and power of the ruler, or simply served as decorations. Furthermore, none of them were open to the general public; only a few fortunate individuals, usually the upper classes, had access.

The first modern zoo, conceived for educational purposes in Vienna, opened in 1765. Over time, the educational mission has become more prominent, as the exhibition of exotic animals has been complemented with scientific studies, conservation and the protection of threatened species.

For decades, zoos have been places of leisure, wonder, and discovery for both the young and the old. Despite their past success, in recent years, society's view of zoos has been changing due to increased awareness of animal welfare, shifting sensibilities and the possibility of learning about wild animals through screens. So, many people wonder: What is the purpose of a zoo in the 21st century?

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