Bribery is 'awful problem' for Russia, Shuvalov says

Image caption, Mr Shuvalov praised foreign firms' collective move to fight corruption

Corruption is an "awful problem" in Russia, Igor Shuvalov, Russia's first deputy Prime Minister, has told the BBC's Russia Business Report.

Anti-corruption group Transparency International last year ranked Russia 146 for corruption out of 180 countries, saying that bribery in Russia was worth $300bn (£205bn) a year.

Mr Shuvalov said that a new programme to tackle corruption had been adopted in Russia, including stricter legislation and mechanisms to get "real and quick" responses from authorities if people are subjected to bribe attempts from local officials.

But, he added: "I would not say that the system is perfect, because we are trying to find proper vehicles in order to attack it [corruption]."

Collective drive

In April, dozens of international firms doing business in Russia signed an accord, pledging not to offer bribes.

It happened soon after two high-profile bribery scandals in Russia involving international companies.

Mr Shuvalov praised the accord, saying it was one of the best examples of how the new anti-corruption programme had started working.

He also believes that major Russian corporations should follow suit.

"We would need to do a lot in order to make the whole system healthier, but now I can see real signals that the system is changing positively," he said.

WTO membership

For many years, Russia has been locked in talks to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It hopes to become a WTO member by the end of the year, and will be doing so on its own, rather than as a part of a customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus.

"It would be more practical if Russia looks for membership [on its own] first," said Mr Shuvalov.

If Russia joins the WTO, it will have to lower tariffs on a lot of goods from abroad, which could put pressure on local producers.

However, Mr Shuvalov believes that obtaining the membership will create "more opportunities for Russian businessmen".

He also said that Russia had already agreed all the tariffs with WTO members, as well as "some level of subsidies" for Russian industries.