March 01, 2016

On the Take

On the Take

At the end of January, Russia got some surprisingly good news on the corruption front: the Transparency International Индекс восприятия коррупции (Corruption Perceptions Index) raised Russia from 136th place to 119th place, an improvement of 17 points. And while that is terrific news and what Russians call положительная динамика (a move in the right direction), there is still a long, long way to go.

In the meantime, there are a lot of phrases to know if you want to talk about corruption in Russia — or partake of it.

The basics are fairly easy: коррупция (corruption), a word that seems to have appeared in Russian before the nineteenth century, was not used much until the twentieth and really took off in the post-Soviet period. At first, folks seem to have talked about мзда (originally a payment, later a bribe), мздоимство (bribery) and мздоимец (the bribe-taker). Now folks say взятка (bribe), взяточничество (bribe-taking), and взяточник (the bribe-taker).

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