In 2009, Russian President Medvedev seemed to have begun a break with the past, though the extent of his willingness to bring about change remains uncertain. Apparently, he seems to have come to appreciate that corruption is a formidable obstacle to the modernization of the Russian economic, legal and political systems and thus needs to be brought within manageable limits. Indeed, the country’s very future might be in jeopardy if he fails to achieve his purported goal.
Perhaps, Mr. Medvedev has unleashed forces that he cannot control. To date, his most dramatic effort has been to fire 18 senior officials within the Russian Ministry for Internal Affairs (MVD). It is premature to assess the long-term effect of this “purge” of some senior MVD officials. In some cases, the persons who lost their positions have been implicated in corruption scandals whereas others are being replaced in response to their ineffectiveness .
Many long-standing observers of Russian governmental actions remain skeptical about Mr. Medvedev’s anti-corruption efforts. They see the creation of state-sponsored non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as evidence of the Russian government’s effort to keep the campaign within “acceptable limits” and prevent the emergence of entities not beholden to or co-optable by state power. By so doing, state officials will prevent “true reform” and they will continue being held accountable to the public in any formal manner.
Mr. Medvedev’s action has been explained as part of an effort to consolidate his own power while demonstrating that his campaign against corruption is more than mere rhetoric. Presumably, President Medvedev intended to send a message to Russian government officials and the public at large that conduct that was tolerated in the past would not be in the future.
Scholarly Commons Citation
Burger, Ethan S. and Gitau, Rosalia, "The Russian Anti-Corruption Campaign: Public Relations, Politics or Substantive Change?" (2010). Georgetown Law Faculty Working Papers. Paper 126.