Vast Majority of Russians Say Country Is Highly Corrupt

Despite President Dmitry Medvedev's pledge to tackle corruption, most Russians see few improvements and still consider their country highly corrupt, according to a poll released this week by state pollster VTsIOM.

Seventy-four percent of respondents said corruption in the country was "high" or "very high," while 19 percent said the level of corruption was "average," according to the poll.

Just 1 percent of respondents described the level of corruption in Russia as "low."

The poll, conducted Sept. 6 and 7 among 1,600 respondents nationwide and released Tuesday, had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.

After his election in March, Medvedev declared war on corruption, saying it was a brake on economic growth and was undermining the state. He created an anti-corruption committee to draft legislation aimed at protecting businesses from corrupt bureaucrats and guaranteeing independent courts.

The head of the committee, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Naryshkin, said the new legislation would be submitted for consideration in the State Duma by November.

According to the VTsIOM poll, 75 percent of Russians said they had seen either no improvement in the situation or that the battle against corruption had yielded only "negligible" results.

Ten percent of respondents said the situation was getting worse, while 7 percent said they had seen some progress.

Russia is on par with Gambia, Togo and Indonesia in terms of corruption, according to a study conducted last year by Transparency International, a corruption watchdog. The report ranked Russia 143rd out of 180 countries surveyed.

Indem, a Moscow-based think tank that tracks corruption, said Russians pay $319 billion annually in bribes. That amounts to around $2,250 for each of the country's 142 million citizens.