The scale of corruption in Russia is so mindboggling that it’s difficult to comprehend.
You can get an idea by looking at the watches that Russian officials wear.
Another way is to look at the cost of one kilometer of road in Moscow.
The Fourth Ring Road is under construction in Moscow at a cost of 7.4 billion rubles per ($250 million) per kilometer, according to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who’s quoted in Radio Free Europe’s series on corruption in Russia:
“If you compare the cost of Moscow’s roads to the Large Hadron particle collider in Switzerland,” he says, “the collider is cheaper, as is the Channel Tunnel [between Britain and France], another grandiose construction project.”
It’s far, far cheaper to build a road in Afghanistan. The Big Dig in Boston, the most expensive highway project in the United States that rerouted a major highway into a tunnel under the city, cost $188 million per mile, according to this report. (.pdf)
According to an AP story, City Hall put the costs at an exorbitant $209 million per kilometer and blamed demolition of residential housing in areas adjacent to the new ring road.
Nemstov blames the problem on Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his inner circle. Luzkhov’s wife is on Forbes magazine’s list of the richest people on Earth.
The “corruption market,” officials tell RFE/RL, is estimated at $300 billion a year. Russia’s GDP was about $1.6 trillion last year, the World Bank says.
Even the government’s own figures show that the average bribe has tripled over the past year to $32,000.