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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Firms Get Low Marks In Backing Whistle-Blowing

Only 22 percent of Russian firms encourage whistle-blowing, according to a report released Tuesday, which cited the country's historical enmity toward "informants" as the reason for the low score.

Roughly one in five Russian companies answered positively to the question, "Have conditions been created in your company for the existence of potential whistle-blowers?" -- putting it well below the worldwide average of 45 percent.

The study, conducted by Grant Thornton International, an organization of independently owned consultancies, placed Russia next to Japan (22 percent), Hong Kong (20 percent) and Greece (18 percent), while Brazil (85 percent), Denmark (71 percent) and Sweden (71 percent) scored highest.

"I am astonished that in Russia the portion of companies that encourage whistle-blowers is so high," Ivan Sapronov, a partner at Grant Thornton Russia, said in a statement.

He said the Russian view of whistle-blowers -- a term still routinely translated to mean informer or denouncer -- "has been and will be bitterly negative."

Sapronov said it was "highly improbable" that the figure would change dramatically in the near future.

The report cited the importance of encouraging whistle-blowing, noting that it can save companies considerable money by alerting management to detrimental or illegal behavior before it can cause serious financial or legal damages.

The study also found significant differences among cities, with whistle-blowing more widely encouraged in firms outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. Of the regional cities surveyed, 40 percent of companies in Nizhny Novgorod had created conditions to encourage whistle-blowing. Firms in Samara and Yekaterinburg reported in at 20 percent. Companies in Perm and St. Petersburg tied at 18 percent and Moscow finished lowest, with only 16 percent.