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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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Society

Colombia Celebrates Its Beloved Drug For The Ages, Coffee

This essential morning drink for millions worldwide was once considered an addictive menace, earning itself a ban on pain of death in the Islamic world.

Colombia's star product: coffee beans.

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For almost a century now we have largely tied our national destiny, culture and image abroad to this drink. Indeed it isn't just Colombia's star product, it became through the course of the 20th century the world's favorite beverage — and the most commonly used drug to boost work output.

Precisely for its stimulating qualities — and for being a mild drug — coffee was not always celebrated, and its history is peppered with the kinds of bans, restrictions and penalties imposed on the 'evil' drugs of today.

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