In March, Public Opinion fund carried out a poll devoted to the subject “Bureaucrats and Bureaucracy.” The results of the poll were not a sensation: it has been known for a long time that Russian citizens do not like functionaries so much. 90 percent of Russians have at least one time heard the word “bureaucracy.” While at the same time, there are happy people who have never heard this word (6 percent). We could only wish to them to remain as happy as they were. Most of Russians, who once came across with bureaucracy, consider this to be the evil which can and must be overcome. Though, there are not much more of them than that ones who have resign themselves with it and consider any fight against bureaucracy to be vain (correlation is 42 to 39 percent). The word “bureaucrat” is understood by Russian citizens in following way: “functionary” (17 percent), “procrastinator” (16 percent), “red-tapist” (10 percent), “mercenary person” (8 percent), “bribe-taker” (6 percent) etc. Among personal and functional characteristics peculiar to bureaucracy, greediness, cruelty, arrogance, bribe-taking, formalism, and incompetence were mentioned. According to the people, bureaucracy concentrates mostly in power and administration bodies (21 percent) and in “all organizations” (17 percent). At the same time, 70 percent of Russians do not know how to fight with bureaucracy. Among the most necessary measures of anti-bureaucracy fight, cutting down of bureaucracy staff (8 percent), intensification of control (5 percent), perfection of legislation (5 percent), increasing of legal responsibility (4 percent) were called. The issue of social and economical life’s bureaucratization has been familiar to Russia for a long time. Already Russian classics of 19th century wrote about this issue. Since that time, almost nothing has changed. Though paradoxical, but within the years of market reforms, the number of functionaries has not reduced, and even rose. Even at the highest level, this issue is being admitted, because it is the main obstacle for development of the country’s economy. It is not by chance, that among measures aimed for support of small-scale business, there are decreasing of taxes and minimization of control of different power structures. Though, on the other hand, not only functionaries are the obstacle for Russia’s development. Any normal country could not be imagined without functionaries. The question is whether this bureaucratic staff is effective or not. Probably, Russian legislation is not perfect, if there are too many loopholes for abuse of power. While the abuses are caused by the functionaries’ too small salary. One thing is clear: we cannot do without bureaucracy, while at the same time, it is impossible to submit to it. Though, it looks like several generations of Russians have to live with this dilemma.
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru Translated by Vera Solovieva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/04/08/39425.html