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Russia’s Top Auditor Kudrin Blasts Corruption in Legal System

Alexei Kudrin ru_minfin / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Russian economic growth is hampered by deep-seated corruption in the country’s legal system, the head of Russia’s auditing agency said Thursday.

Audit Chamber head Alexei Kudrin told a St. Petersburg International Economic Forum panel that corruption in the Russian judiciary system goes back centuries, pointing to one of the classic Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s works as his favorite example.

“There are no stable rules, there’s no impartiality in … the arbitration of problematic disputes,” Kudrin, a former finance minister and prominent liberal economic voice, said.

Russian businesses overwhelmingly distrust the national legal and law enforcement system, according to business ombudsman Boris Titov’s recent survey of businesses submitted to President Vladimir Putin.

“Such an attitude toward a fundamental institution that is in fact the ultimate arbiter of justice shows that we have weak rule-of-law institutions,” Kudrin said, referring to the survey’s findings.

He said a criminal case into embezzlement against U.S. investor Michael Calvey, who had sought to attend the St. Petersburg forum despite his house arrest, was “a shock to the economy” that had doubled Russia’s capital flight in 2019.

“We need to take a host of measures every day to increase trust in businesses until there’s a breakthrough. Until there’s no breakthrough... investment won’t flow,” he said.

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