Bribery is a primary tool for local-level corruption. Regional elites auction off every credit, investment, or new business opportunity to local contractors willing to pay bribes. Regional elites also collect bribes from the population for delivering essential services, such as water, education, justice, documents, etc. To cover up the money lost in the process, regional elites often blame farmers for failing to harvest enough cotton, extract enough gas, or efficiently use funds.
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The Verkhovna Rada held a no-confidence vote on 16th February, and much to the surprise of many, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk defended his seat and remained in power. The no-confidence vote was a political show that revealed two critical trends: oligarchs are still in control of Ukraine, and Poroshenko is leading the charge.
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While low oil prices account for much of Russia’s financial decline, Western sanctions have certainly left its mark on the Russian economy. The result of sanctions has led to a game of cat-and-mouse between the US and Russian oligarchs eager to protect their commercial interests.
Stemming from the current sanctions regime, and facilitated by previous trends of wealth transfer between family members in Russia, oligarch assets are being moved to the next generation. The current business elite however, remain – in many ways - slaves to the socio-political system that has been established since Putin took power.
While last month's economic news in Russia were dominated by plummeting oil prices and the government’s decision to cut budget expenditures by 10%, in February all eyes are on what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the upcoming “big privatisation” of state corporations.