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On Corruption, U.S. Accusations Against Russia Are the Pot’s Calling the Kettle Black

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Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture

Gallup’s polling in Russia and in the United States finds almost identically high percentages of the public saying “Yes” to the question “Is corruption widespread throughout the government in this country, or not?” — 77% in Russia and 75% in America say “Yes” to that. However, one of America’s official propaganda-agencies, Voice of America News, headlined, on January 26th, “New Reports Highlight Russia’s Deep-Seated Culture of Corruption”. It’s from Charles Maynes in Moscow. (He also reports occasionally for USA Today, NPR, Public Radio International, and other U.S. media.) He opened by saying that

New reports from Transparency International and the Russian Academy of Sciences on education highlight a pervasive culture of corruption in Russia that persists despite efforts by the government and opposition activists.

The country scored 137th out of 180 countries in the Transparency International corruption index published last week.

Every year we have to find new words to describe the same thing,” Anton Pominov, the organization’s Russia director, told VOA.

“Russia tries to introduce anti-corruption measures without any will to implement them, without understanding why they should be done,” Pominov said.

It’s not clear whether the alleged “New reports” are “on education” or instead are more generally on “a pervasive culture of corruption in Russia,” and my attempts to contact Mr. Maynes failed. However, I was able to find an 89-page multinational report, Principles of Scientific Publication, from a “World Forum” (apparently not the group that runs the annual billionaires’ conclave in the Swiss town of Davos), which “Forum” was held in “Montreal, Canada—August 19, 20, 21” of 2020, and Maynes’s article seems to have been referring to an article in it, “Plagiarism crisis in Russia,” by Andrey Zayakin, of the Russian Academy of Sciences, as being one of the two sources for his assertion that there is “a pervasive culture of corruption in Russia.” That article concerns a problem which is also very much present in the United States, and in many other countries. Zayakin’s only use, in it, of the sequence of letters “corrupt” is in his sentence, on page 11, “The most essential factor in retaining the corrupt system of PhD mills is [the] expiration statute for degree revocations claims.” His article actually isn’t, at all, about any “pervasive culture of corruption in Russia.” Zayakin was the only Russian whom Maynes cited as being a source allegedly confirming that there exists “a pervasive culture of corruption in Russia,” other than Dissernet dot org, which is a Russian organization to root-out and expose academic cheating. Other than that, Maynes’s only possible source for his allegation that there exists “a pervasive culture of corruption in Russia” was Transparency International, which will be discussed subsequently here.

Furthermore, also on January 26th, Gallup Analytics emailed to their subscribers, headlining “Most Russians See Widespread Corruption in Government” and opened:

Thousands of Russians took part in nationwide demonstrations last weekend to protest the detention of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and to rail against rampant corruption. In 2020, 77% of Russians said corruption was widespread throughout their government. This percentage has never dropped below 70% in the past 15 years.

77% of polled Russians, in 2020, said that corruption was “widespread.” However, that was also shown to have been the average Russian figure ever since Gallup started polling this, back in 2006. What was actually unique in their 2020 poll findings was instead that 19% of Russians had answered “No” on this. The previous high “No”s on that question was only 12% “No,” and it was in the immediately prior year, 2019. The previous high before that had been 11%, and this was in 2018. In 2016, the figure was only 6%, and that figure had also been the average “No” percentage ever since 2006. So: Gallup could, much more strikingly than they had done in their email, have instead headlined it as “All-Time High Percentage of Russians Say Government Corruption Is Not Widespread.” That headline would have given the exact opposite impression, and it doesn’t mislead, like their emailed headline did.

On 19 February 2015, Gallup had headlined “75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption”, and showed the figures ever since 2007, when that percentage “Yes” in America had been 67%. The overall trend, in America, throughout that 7-year period has been upward. That report unfortunately omitted to indicate what percentage of Americans had answered “No” on this question. That report, additionally, showed the percentage “Yes” for each one of 37 countries, and America was the 13th-worst on that list. Lithuania, at 90% “Yes,” was the worst. Sweden, at 14% “Yes,” was the best. Russia wasn’t shown on that list. However, back on 18 October 2013, Gallup had headlined “Government Corruption Viewed as Pervasive Worldwide: Majorities in 108 out of 129 countries see widespread problem,” and they reported that “Czech Republic” had scored as having the highest percentage, 94%, of its population answering “Yes,” and Lithuania was #2 that time, at 90%, which was the same figure as was shown for Lithuania on the 2015 list. (“Czech Republic” showed as 83% “Yes” in Gallup’s 19 February 2015 article.) On that 2013 list, too, Sweden scored the lowest “Yes”s, at 14%. Perhaps the same samplings were being represented in 2013 and 2015, just being published in different years, regarding both Lithuania and Sweden. The 2013 list showed 80% of Russians as having answered “Yes.” The January 26th Gallup Analytics email “Most Russians See Widespread Corruption in Government” indicates that the percentage-figure was steadily in the 70s during each and every year after 2013. So, apparently, governmental corruption is declining in Russia and is increasing in America, but is, at present, approximately equal in both countries. And both of those countries seem to have lower corruption than do Czech Republic and Lithuania (both of which countries became U.S. vassal-nations after the Soviet Union ended in 1991. Russia, too, had started to be such during 1991-1999, but stopped being a U.S. vassal in 2000 when Vladimir Putin became President).

The Voice of America (always a hate-Russia site) mentioned in its January 26th article Transparency International (TI) as being one of their sources. They also mentioned the World Bank, which is widely recognized as being an extension of the U.S. Government. However, Transparency International was actually formed in 1993 as a spin-off from the World Bank in order to create corruption rankings of nations that would be weighted so as to show less ‘corruption’ in America’s allies and more corruption in countries that America’s billionaires have targeted for take-over. In other words, it is a significant part of America’s global imperialism. As we shall see here, a country pays dearly for having a lower TI rating. That cost isn’t only in international prestige; it is in billions of dollars:

A major excuse that the U.S. and its allies employ in order to ‘justify’ their imperialism is America’s global ‘anti-corruption’ campaign, and TI is part of that. Agents of U.S. billionaires had actually established Transparency International at the very same time as they did the Washington Consensus, as a means to rig the corruption-rankings of countries, so that the World Bank would be able to ‘justify’ charging higher interest rates to countries that America’s aristocracy aim to conquer (regardless of whether that conquest was by subversion — such as in Brazil — or else by sanctions, or by coup, or by military invasion). Charging higher interest rates to a given target-country softens it up so as to be less able to resist the imperialistic nation’s swallowing it up into its financial and economic web.

This imperialistic squid has many tentacles. For example, in 2008, Oxford University Press published Rebuilding War-Torn States, by Dr. Graciana del Castillo, and with a Foreword by Nobel economics laureate Edmund S. Phelps. The book’s Introduction said that the 2003 invasion of Iraq might not have been so bad for Iraq if only the U.N. had not “failed” to authorize it. The U.N. was blamed for not having approved it. This paean to U.S.-and-allied imperialism (even as gross as that case) devoted a chapter to “9: UN-led reconstruction following US-led military intervention: Afghanistan” (and one might notice here that euphemism of “intervention” instead of “invasion” — the brutal reality), in which Dr. Castillo said, on page 189, that:

“Private capital will not flow into the country — on the contrary, capital flight will continue — unless the security situation improves, electricity is restored, other basic infrastructure is built, a simple and non-corrupt legal and regulatory framework is in place, and human capital is upgraded. The earlier the economy shifts from reliance on foreign aid to trade and foreign investment, the better the peace transition’s outcome will be.” (That “trade and foreign investment” really helped the people of Iraq, and of Afghanistan, didn’t it?)

Dr. Castillo’s obituary at Columbia University’s Center of Capitalism and Society said that “Graciana was Associate Director of the Center on Capitalism and Society from 2008 until late 2009. She was an economist with a Ph.D. in Economics from Columbia University and occupied prominent positions in several international organizations, including Director of Sovereign Ratings at Standard & Poor’s, where she helped alleviate economic crises in several countries.” So, she had been S&P’s top person deciding how high an interest-rate to charge the impoverished people of Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

Wikipedia’s article concerning the Center on Capitalism and Democracy says “The Center on Capitalism and Society seeks to determine the means by which a country can successfully achieve economic success through its ability to generate and develop sound commercial ideas. The Center’s work is based upon a theory of capitalism where entrepreneurs and financiers are the key actors and the discovery of viable ideas is the essential activity. The director is Professor of Economics and Nobel-Laureate Edmund Phelps.” Workers are not “the key actors,” because “the discovery of viable ideas is the essential activity.” For example, the discovery of financial derivatives was an “essential activity,” but the sorts of things that people such as Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Richard Strauss, Jonas Salk, or the people who build houses or other works of architecture, or who grow our food, do, are not. Will wonders never cease?

Of course Afghans might happen to find that they can make lots more money farming opium than as “entrepreneurs and financiers.” But who cares about them? Perhaps the Taliban does.

After all: America’s corruption is global, and globally imposed. Maybe that’s the big difference. This squid hungers to ravish everybody, everywhere.

Of course, the U.S. and UK Governments function together internationally almost as one, and therefore it might be of interest that on 1 February 2021, Russia’s RT channel headlined “Top Navalny aide asked alleged British spy for millions in funding, intelligence video released by Russia’s FSB claims to reveal”, and showed video that Russian counter-intelligence had recorded in 2012 of the Russian ‘anti-corruption activist’ Alexei Navalny’s #2 man Vladimir Ashurkov discussing with an alleged MI6 agent (James William Thomas Ford, Second Secretary for political affairs at the UK embassy in Russia) inside a Moscow restaurant, the possibility of MI6 funding Navalny’s operation “a little money,” such as “10, 20 million dollars a year.” “And this is not a big amount of money for people who have billions at stake.” It would help Navalny create “mass protests, civil initiatives, establishing contacts,” etc. But the UK official suggested instead “turning to Transparency International for grants. Ashurkov said he doubted working with Transparency ‘would be effective’.” However, what happened afterward is not publicly known. Ashurkov, at this same meeting, additionally asked for MI6 to supply Navalny’s group with dirt on Russia’s Government that they could then “release in conjunction with the Henry Jackson Society,” which is the British Conservative Party’s think tank that’s named after the far-right U.S. Democratic Party Senator (a closeted version of the Republican Party’s infamous Joseph R. McCarthy) who had started the neoconservative movement, and who especially hated Russia.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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