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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

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Toni Schönfelder
A lifetime of innovation

Booklet tells how to avoid bribes  
Moscow Times, 28 September 2006  
A 16-page booklet unveiled Wednesday tells Russians what to do when faced with a corrupt official bent on extracting a backhander.  
"Over the past 10 years, the number of bribes has increased by 10 times," said Andrei Przhezdomsky, the booklets author and a member of the Public Chamber, set up by President Vladimir Putin to improve links between government and society.  
Putin has made fighting corruption a key priority, and analysts say privately that the crackdown on corruption and official privileges is emerging as a major issue ahead of the 2008 presidential election.  
"If you dont oil the wheels you get nowhere," he added, reflecting on the everyday reality of life for millions of people forced to reach into their pockets to steer their way through officialdom.  
The booklet says it is a citizens moral obligation to report anyone asking for a bribe to police or security services and provides advice on what details to report. It also gives an example of the statement to fill out at the police station.  
The publication adds that those facing corrupt officials can either end all discussion once a bribe is mentioned or hear the official out, carefully remembering and then recording the details of the demand.  
It also warns readers that officials fishing for a backhander often hide behind vague or complicated phrases.  
The booklet begins with quotes from the Bible, the Prophet Mohammed and the Torah and then gives a detailed description of bribes, which it says range from money to shares, cars, apartments, houses, dachas, plots of land and even food.  
Traffic police rank among the most obvious bribe-takers, and few Russians manage to get away after being stopped by a patrol car without parting with at least 100 rubles ($3.75).  
But at a higher level, millions of dollars are paid out to corrupt civil servants to get them simply to shift paperwork on a project from their in-tray to their out-tray.  
"How can we break out of this vicious circle? We think that if we arm every citizen with knowledge of their rights and possible actions, it is an opportunity society must of course use. This booklet serves this," Przhezdomsky said.  
The booklet has a first run of just 100,000 copies.  
Officials acknowledged that the slender publication was a very modest first stab at tackling corruption.  
"We must ask ourselves: Do we live in a society where corruption is a moral perversity to the normal flow of things, or is it the main part or even the spinal cord of the system of administrative management in the country?" ombudsman Vladimir Lukin told reporters at the presentation.  
© Copyright 2006. The Moscow Times  

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