Fighting Corruption as a Condition for Sustainable Regional
Isabel A. Morayta
, Galina A. Menshikova
and Nikolay A. Pruel
Petersburg State University, 7/9 Universitetskaya nab., St. Petersburg, Russia
Keywords: Corruption, Regional Sustainability, Voluntary SDG Reports, Corruption Assessments, Public Information
Abstract: The article focuses on corruption as a factor accompanying a sustainable development. Our UN SDG reports
analysis revealed two trends. The first one is that the data on the fight against corruption is not presented, i.e.
there are no indicators for task 16.5. The second one is that the reporting assessment methodology has not
been discussed in practice, and the fight against corruption is not reflected in the UN Consolidated Reports
for 2019 and 2020. We think this is unacceptable, particularly in relation to Russia. The publication
methodological basis is based on three directions in the study of corruption. The first one (classic) justifies
the role of corruption as a factor that destroys the social order and withdraws huge amounts of money from
the development resource base (country, region). The second is a modern trend that analyzes the methods of
its adequate assessment. The third is the current methods and of the UN and OECD (2020) recommendations
analysis on improving the collecting methods and evaluating indicators. The publication substantiates the role
of the fight against corruption as a condition for the country and the region sustainable development and
suggests tightening the requirements for its inclusion in national voluntary reports. It is proposed to strengthen
control over open information on the websites of the Russian Federation regions.
It is generally accepted, not only for Russia, but for
the whole world that corruption is one of the most
important evils. Here are the words of one of the IMF
experts Kristin Logart, expressed by him on the UN
SDG website: "Corruption at its core weakens the
state capacity to perform its functions. It undermines
the ability to raise the necessary revenue, and it also
distorts spending decisions in the sense that State
authorities may be inclined to choose projects that
provide kickbacks rather than projects that provide
economic and social returns. This has a negative
impact on growth and economic opportunities. This
has a negative impact on fairness and equity, as the
poor have the most to lose from cuts in social
spending and investments in sustainable
development. This has a negative impact on
economic stability, as the toxic combination of low
incomes and wasteful spending creates the conditions
for deficits to easily spiral out of control".
Addressing corruption is clearly important for
SDG-16, which aims to "Promote a peaceful and open
society for sustainable development, ensure access to
justice for all and build effective, accountable and
inclusive institutions at all levels"
At the same time, as our study on the UN final
reports for 2019 and 2020, as well as the
recommendations of the UN and OECD on the
indicators for national voluntary reports selection,
showed that the word corruption is in them (at least in
the translation into Russian versions), it is not used
and the state power corruption problem itself is not
considered (SDG's Report, UN, 2019), (SDG's
Report, UN, 2020) and (Guidance note, 2019),
(Recommendations OECD, 2019). It is difficult to
assess this situation. Two answers are seen. The first
one is the SDG leaders, who are forced to support the
Morayta, I., Menshikova, G. and Pruel, N.
Fighting Corruption as a Condition for Sustainable Regional Development.
DOI: 10.5220/0010598208220827
In Proceedings of the International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure (ISSDRI 2021), pages 822-827
ISBN: 978-989-758-519-7
2021 by SCITEPRESS Science and Technology Publications, Lda. All rights reserved
importance of the SDGs idea, to seek to enlist the the
heads of state support, and are accordingly ready for
some tactical (possibly temporary) retreats. The
second one is that perhaps the problems of hunger,
climate warming and ecological balance in general
are more important for the world than the fight against
To the country's credit, Russia has included
minimal reporting on corruption in its Voluntary
National Review of the Implementation of the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development (Russian
Federation (Voluntary National Review, 2020). As a
success in the fight against corruption (task 16.5),
data on the reduction of the suspicious financial
transactions volume from 23.4 trillion rubles (2015)
to 16.0 trillion were given. (2018), which is a
decrease in their share in the budget of the Russian
Federation from 28.1% to 15.7%. The dynamics of
three other indicators are shown in Table 1.
Be advised that papers in a technically unsuitable
form will be returned for retyping. After returned the
manuscript must be appropriately modified.
Table 1: Indicators dynamics that characterize the fight
against corruption in the country according to the DNI
Indicator 201
Number of
crimes suppressed
(thousand units)
26 25.5 22.6 23.4
From these, crimes
classified as
committed on a
large and especially
large scale or
causing major
damage (thousand
14.7 13.8 12.7 12.5
Number of
identified persons
who committed acts
of corruption
3.9 4.7 5.1
*Voluntary national review of the Agenda for
Sustainable Development implementation for the
period up to 2030. Russian Federation. Moscow,
Despite the generally positive dynamics in the
fight against corruption, activists from the "Civil
Control" point to the lack of the governmental activity
in this direction. So, Elena Shakhova (Chairman of
the NGO "Civil Control") believes: "Russia's policy
on SDG-16 is inconsistent. Along with such positive
changes as the jury competence expansion, the
Article 282 (Criminal Code of the Russian Federation
(hatred or enmity inciting) partial decriminalization,
the trial mandatory audio recording, the decline in
compliance with justice international standards. The
report reflects that violence and corruption are
widespread in Russian society and government
institutions. There is no political will to solve these
problems, and legislation that restricts public access
to information is actively being created and applied".
Leaving aside the moralizing approach (Aristotle, N.
Machiavelli, T. Hobbes, Grotsky, G.G. Zh. - Zh.
Rousseau and many others), it is correct, but not very
constructive, let us consider the modern one as more
utilitarian, limiting the field of interest to public
administration. This approach is considered to be the
"principal agent" model (or its variant "patron-
client"), which explains the public administration
essence in a society based on an undeveloped
democracy. These models assume that the population
(as a principal) transfers public resources (property)
for the use of the agent (state). This model for
enterprises has been formulated by Jenson M.,
Mackling W (Jenson, Mackling, 1976). J. Stiglitz
(Stiglitz, 1986) extended it to the public
administration field, where it found wide acceptance
(Rose-Akkerman, 1999). further development of the
approach, especially under the influence of the
administrative reforms principles and the intention to
Good Governance implementation, was deepened by
the openness and transparency theories as the basis
for combating corruption (Shleifer, Vishny, 1993),
(Sarkar, 2020).
The second basis of our approach is the theories
that form the methodological basis for assessing
corruption in public administration. Given that
corruption is an illegal activity, that it seeks and often
finds latent forms of implementation, it is extremely
difficult to assess it (Meyer, 2018), (Ankamah,
Khoda, 2018). Nevertheless, such attempts are being
made, in particular, corruption indices are being
actively developed and applied in practice; three
methods are used.
The first one is a "corruption perception"
assessment using survey data, in which respondents
are asked about the extent to which their field of
activity is corrupt; the assessment is usually asked to
be given in a ranking scale. The second one is that
respondents are asked to report how often they
themselves (or their friends, relatives, and others from
Fighting Corruption as a Condition for Sustainable Regional Development
their professional, social and other environment) have
to deal with corruption. The third one is to use the
observable and measurable characteristics.
It is clear that the first two measurement methods,
one way or another, are subjective, which gives
reason to doubt their correctness. The corruption
prevalence general perceptions may reflect prevailing
stereotypes, rather than an objective state of affairs.
The perception subjectivity factor is described in the
classic work of Noelle Neumann E. (Noelle-
Neumann, 1984). In addition, researchers have long
identified a perception paradox or "halo effect"
(Bardhan, 2004), based on the recognition that the
more actively the fight against corruption is
conducted, which the population informs the media
about, the higher its negative perception by residents
is. It is a paradox that in countries where the fight
against corruption is not conducted or at least its
progress and results are not discussed in the media,
the population readily recognizes the fact of its
reduction, expressing judgments that the government
is fighting corruption.
The advantage of the third approach to measuring
corruption is its objectivity, however, it is extremely
difficult to identify such indicators (at least in full,
reflecting the real picture). Usually, scientists use the
indicators that characterize either the fight against
corruption consequences (economic development,
growth in the quality of life, etc.) (Golden, 2005) or
its prerequisites (information openness) (Fazekas,
Kocsis, 2020), or indirect estimates. An example of
the latter is a study conducted by (Fishman Miguel,
2007), where the level of corruption in the country
was estimated by the number of fines paid by
diplomatic workers for parking in front of the UN
building in New York.
The third one, methodological cornerstones, is a
study of the developed and applied international
corruption assessment ratings. These include, first of
all, two generally recognized corruption monitoring
systems. The first one is the non-governmental
organization "Transparency International", which has
been annually compiling the Corruption Perceptions
Index since 1995 (its essence is the first method). The
second rating has been compiled since 1996 by the
World Bank. This is part of a comprehensive study on
the public administration quality, which, among other
things, calculates the Control of Corruption Index. It
is based on the second approach described above.
This also includes numerous comparative studies on
corruption between countries (Treisman, 2007),
regions (Libman, Kozlov. 2013), municipalities
(Kloviene, Valanciene, 2013).
Let us name two guidelines for conducting anti-
corruption monitoring that are interesting either for
their novelty or for their involvement in the authors
of this publication proposals. The first one is the
"Guidelines for Integrity in the Public Sector, OECD,
2020". The second one is Guidelines for Using Open
Data to Fight Corruption, 2017". It was developed by
open data experts, government officials and civil
society representatives from Transparency
International in collaboration with other international
organizations. It contains 30 mandatory data key sets,
including anti-corruption activities, that should be
contained on the site, i.e. officials and legal entities
registers, open budget data, information on
government contracts, a unscrupulous suppliers
register, an officials assets/income declarations
database and others.
In order to assess corruption in the Russian regions,
we conducted a rating analysis. The basic and only
permanent rating is the rating compiled by the
Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian
Federation. Sometimes corruption measurements are
made at the HSE Anti-Corruption Center, but they are
not permanent and do not include a regional cross-
section, focusing on the procurement field. The well-
known rating of TIR (the Russian branch of
Trasparency International) also does not have a
regional section. Indirectly, the situation in regions,
however, without taking into account corruption,
reflects the cities and governors ratings.
The corruption rating compiled by the Prosecutor
General's Office is good because it is based on
objective data, on cases in courts, their assessments
and information about punishments. In the monthly
tables, it has been presented on the site since 2016, so
information to assess its dynamics has been
accumulated, see "The state of crime", January 2020.
ISSDRI 2021 - International Scientific and Practical Conference on Sustainable Development of Regional Infrastructure
Table 2: Information from the Prosecutor General's Office
on previously investigated cases of corruption (where N is
the number of cases considered for 9 months in 2020, T is
the number of cases sent to court, % is the ratio between the
first and second ones).*
The violation name N
T %
Total 22,528 17,295 76.8
Receiving a bribe 2,507 2,349 93.7
a bribe 2,712 1,474 54.3
Mediation in briber
744 433 58.1
Small sized briber
4146 2,539 61.2
It is not possible to comment on the results of the
article. It is alarming that more than half of the cases
(12,419) are not specified.
Table 3: Information on the amount of material damage
caused by corruption-related crimes, its compensation
(including the information in %) and the value of property
(including the amount of money seized (in thousands of
Indicators that
characterize the
2019 2020 %
The amount of
material damage
The amount of the
damage by its
repayment or
property, money,
5,299,362 5,206,39
The value of the
(including the
funds under
It is clear that the rating shows positive overall
results. As for the regional monitoring, it provides the
following statistics for the federal districts (the
number of corruption-related crimes per 100
thousand people is indicated): the Volga Federal
District 25.5, the Central Federal District – 21.2, the
Southern Federal District – 12.2, the Siberian Federal
District 10.3, the Ural Federal District 10.1, the
North Caucasus Federal District 8.1, the
Northwestern Federal District 7.0, and the Far
Eastern Federal District 5.6. In the whole country
this coefficient is 21.1.
According to the report, the lowest level of
corruption was observed in Ingushetia, Khakassia,
Altai Region, Vologda, Moscow, Murmansk, Penza
Region, St. Petersburg, Sevastopol and the Yamalo-
Nenets Autonomous District. The crime rate in these
regions varies from 6.41 to 9.94 per 100 thousand
people. The report gave the corruption crimes
distribution by field of activity. The leaders were the
budget funds development, including those allocated
within the targeted programs and national projects
framework, the auctions organization, property
management, control and audit, law enforcement,
housing and communal services. The report also
refers to corruption in law enforcement agencies.
The overall result of the Prosecutor General's
Office rating –"The corruption is still popular. The
number of bribe takers increased by 5%, and
corruption crimes increased from 28.3 thousand to
29.4 thousand. The most expanse to bribe-takers is in
Bashkortostan, the Stavropol Territory and, as usual,
in the bread-and-butter city for bureaucrats, Moscow.
In total, since the beginning of 2020, corrupt
criminals have caused damage to the country by more
than 45.4 million rubles".
Assessing positively the work done by the
Prosecutor General's Office, highlighting its system,
regularity and publicity, the researchers criticize it
according to the following parameters. The chairman
of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, Kirill
Kabanov, pointed to the orientation of the rating on
the actual indicator, i.e. the implementation of the
anti-corruption legislation requirements, the national
plan implementation requirements execution. As a
result, he concludes: "Accordingly, this is a kind of
consensus (of these indicators). You can agree with
him, you can work with him, but at the same time,
from the corruption point of view, as a rental
business, he, of course, does not give a complete
Denis Primakov, the lawyer of the Center for
Anti-Corruption Research and TIR Initiatives
indicates: "The prosecutor's rating cannot be
considered objective, as it contains only a part of the
information. It does not contain, for example, data on
the embezzlement and bribes volume". "Most likely,
the rating takes into account grassroots corruption.
Such criminal cases of receiving/giving bribes are
brought against teachers, doctors, and so on. It is quite
possible that according to such indicators, the regions
announced by the Prosecutor General's Office are
really ahead".
Dmitry Zhirkov, the Board of the All-Russian
Public Organization "Safe Fatherland" Chairman, the
member of the Expert Council of the Committee on
Security and Anti-Corruption of the State Duma of
the Russian Federation, joins this evaluation.
According to him, in addition to the dry figures, there
Fighting Corruption as a Condition for Sustainable Regional Development
are still a lot of problems related to the state order,
with the state corporations, such as Gazprom,
Rosneft, Rushydro interests.
Many experts are concerned about regional
assessments. D. Primakov expresses doubts that the
capital is not listed in the top bribe takers regions. He
points to one possible reason, in the capital, the
volume of grassroots corruption is less than in the
regions. "After all, teachers here take much less
bribes, this is a prosperous region", but latent, or
veiled, corruption is much higher here, and it is
clearly not taken into account in the rating, according
to his opinion.
Kurlenya, K. Kabanov believes that the capital is
more exposed to the risk of corruption, compared to
other Russian regions, as there are large projects and
a large amount of money here. The expert also
referred to St. Petersburg and the regions "with large
target programs" to similar territories.
So, assessing the situation with corruption regional
monitoring in the Russian Federation, we can draw a
number of conclusions. First, the main rating is the
provided by the Prosecutor General's Office of the
Russian Federation. It is open, covered by the media
and regular. It is based on objective data, since it is
collected in courts on the actual documents basis.
Other ratings exist, but since they are compiled by
independent organizations, they cannot be conducted
regularly. Secondly, it is not complete and,
accordingly, does not reflect the total amount of
corruption in the country. Third, it is not able to track
what is proposed in the recommendations for the UN
and OECD SDGs, namely, to take into account the
amount of open data on the regions sites (1),
including at least part of the 30 recommended key
arrays such as the officials and legal entities register,
open budget data, information on government
contracts, the unscrupulous suppliers register, the
officials assets/income declarations database, and
We need a new (comprehensive) corruption
rating, which should contain information based on
common data standards, the list and content of which
should be strictly regulated, and the designated
technical details of information availability ensuring.
It should be taken into account that the volume and
structure of this information should change in the
expansion direction, taking into account specific
cases, data structuring in relation to the stages of legal
violations, i.e. prevention, detection, investigation,
law enforcement.
Once Russia has entered on the sustainable
development path, the country should put the regional
aspect in the center of attention, realizing that only in
this way will the result be obtained. By taking the first
step, by submitting a voluntary review to the UN,
Russia has embarked on a road where the path to the
end is much further than to the beginning. As part of
the first report preparation, the available statistical
base in the country and in the regions was checked. It
is revealed that there are experts, that the
recommendations of the UN and the OECD contain
proposals for the necessary indicators structure. We
need the political will, we need laws that define the
heads of regions responsibility for the amount of open
information, for example, given on websites. Such a
law applies to local self-government, and it seems that
the time to extend it to a higher level of government
has come.
In an effort to develop the regions economy,
increase the quality of life (the effectiveness of the
fight against corruption), it is advisable to increase the
heads of regions responsibility for their
implementation, making reporting the main reason
for maintaining their status. It seems that the
Ministry of Economic Development experience in
monitoring the federal targeted programs financing
can be used. The governor of the region should not be
re-elected in the absence of positive dynamics in the
region development.
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