GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Gallup World Poll finds perceptions of corruption widespread throughout the former Soviet Union, with most residents saying levels of corruption are worse now than during the Soviet era. More than half (57%) of respondents in 14 former Soviet republics tell Gallup the level of corruption in their country is higher now than it was during the days of the Soviet Union. Eighteen percent say the level of corruption is about the same, and just 8% say it is lower.
While Gallup obtained the data through interviews conducted throughout 2006, recent events in several countries appear to confirm residents’ sentiments:
- In the Ukraine, for instance, where 66% say that corruption is higher now than before, the coalition party of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko recently won elections amid fears the balloting would be rigged. Ukrainian courts had to order electoral officials to include her and other opposition parties on the ballot, and her main rival initially refused to concede.
- In oil-rich Kazakhstan, 58% of respondents say the level of corruption in their country is higher than it was during the Soviet era. That nation recently held elections in which only one party secured enough votes to achieve representation; an outcome which electoral observers said was unprecedented for a democratic nation.
- In Georgia, 39% of people tell Gallup corruption is higher now than during the Soviet era. That county’s former defense minister was arrested just days after forming an opposition party on claims that President Mikhail Saakashvili ran a corrupt government.
- In Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has said corruption is one of the country’s most serious barriers to economic development, 75% say the level of corruption is higher today than it was during the days of the Soviet Union.
- Similarly, 74% of Lithuanians say corruption is worse now that before. The European Commission has criticized Lithuania for not fully implementing an anti-corruption program the country passed in 2002.
- In Kyrgyzstan, an overwhelming 8 out of 10 residents agree with their Russian and Lithuanian neighbors that corruption is higher now than before. Two years ago, citizens of that country swept out of office their only president since independence over charges of nepotism and corruption.
On the lower end of the scale, the percentage of people who believe corruption has increased is still high. Uzbekistan boasts the lowest percentage of all 14 countries surveyed, yet still more than one-third of respondents (34%) in that country say corruption is higher now than before.
Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 1,000 or more adults ages 15 and older, administered from February-October 2006 in Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. In Russia, more than 2,000 interviews were conducted. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.