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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Tired of Corruption

Russians want the government to make tackling corruption its top priority, according to a Levada Center poll that underlined widespread public disenchantment at entrenched graft in society.

The poll, released Tuesday, showed that 45 percent of Russians thought the government should focus on efforts to fight corruption, up from 41 percent last year. Respondents said corruption was their primary worry.

President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly vowed to crack down on corruption, but political opponents say corruption has risen since he came to power. Studies show an increase in bribes and other forms of corruption since Putin became President in 2000, and he admitted earlier this year that he had not made as much progress as he wanted.

A 2005 study by Indem, an anti-corruption think tank, found that the average bribe had jumped by 70 percent since 2001. The study found that the average bribe was $136,000.

The Interior Ministry said Wednesday that law enforcement authorities had registered more than 8,000 corruption-related crimes in the first six months of this year, up 6 percent from the same period last year.

Authorities registered 8,075 corruption-related crimes from January to June, and 2,762 individuals have been convicted on corruption charges in that period, said Yevgeny Shkolov, head of the Interior Ministry's economic crimes department, Interfax reported.

Some analysts say authorities could seek to exploit discord with corruption by initiating a public crackdown on graft ahead of the March presidential election, when Putin is expected to hand over power to a handpicked successor.

"For the first time in all our years of interviews, in the top place is the fight against corruption, ahead of other concerns such as combating inflation," the Levada Center said.

The poll showed tacking inflation was the second most important issue, with 40 percent of respondents saying it should be a government priority.

The poll showed 30 percent wanted the government to focus on improving law and order.

Reuters, MT