MOSCOW - It’s a thorny question that has plagued governments for years: What exactly constitutes a bribe?
It is particularly relevant in Russia, where corruption is so rampant that even well-meaning business people must grease the wheels in such a way that their counterparts in the West would scoff at.
Russia’s Supreme Court has laid out in a recent conference just what will be considered a bribe, and just as importantly, what will not.
According to Kommersant, the court agreed that offering services such as forgiving a debt or constructing a new country house would be considered bribery. There was a heated discussion about whether or not providing the services of a prostitute for an official would be considered a bribe - several of the participants remarked that this was a very common practice. But in the end, a majority voted that free prostitutes would also constitute a bribe.
[rebelmouse-image 27086550 alt="""" original_size="499x331" expand=1] Moscow (Firkser)
The Court, however, decided that gifts of up to 3,000 rubles (about $100) would not be considered bribes, which is good news for both policemen and traffic offenders.
Actually, speaking of bribes and the police, people who are asked to pay a bribe to a police officer will only be able to get their money back if they warn the police about the extortion before handing over the money, Kommersant reported. The court did not explain exactly how that would be possible in a real-life situation.
The biggest difference between Russia’s new corruption guidelines and those in the West is that the money has to actually be handed over for anyone to be prosecuted. In the West, it is generally enough to prove that someone was preparing either to take a bribe or to give a bride to prosecute for corruption. A representative of the government’s legal department summed up the discrepancy this way: “You have to take into account the Russian mentality,” Kommersant reports.