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Monthly Newsletter - March 2013



End of bribery in Russia?

Bribery is one of the most infamous stereotypes about Russia. For ages, paying a bribe has been considered an inherent part of Russian daily life and it even seems that Russians accepted bribery as a component of their "mystifying Russian soul". Omitting the negative impact on their national economic situation they enjoy mocking it and both Russian and international media portray it as a bothersome but inevitable and somewhat funny part of the negotiation process within the Russian Federation.

Radio station Echo of Moscow, for instance, created a poll, which result shows the top 50 most common sentences used for offering or demanding a bribe. Just for fun - let's have a look at the most funny ones (with literal translations to English).

How to demand a bribe:

  • (Гаишник – в ответ на признание водителем вины): Виноват? Надо искупить свою вину! (подумав) А нас двое. = (Policeman's reaction to driver's confession of guilt): You are guilty? You need to redeem yourself! (thinking) And there are two of us.

  • Надо ждать [надо ж дать]. = It's necessary to wait [in Russian this sentence can also mean It's necessary to give (with some tiny change in pronunciation)].

  • У меня трое детей. = I have three children.

  • Спасибо в карман не положишь. = You can't put “thank you” in a pocket.

  • «Спасибо» не булькает. = Thank you doesn't gurgle. (Praise is not pudding.)

  • К сожалению, у нас очень маленькая зарплата. = Unfortunately, our salary is too low.

  • Пошуршите, я плохо вижу, с какой проблемой вы пришли. = Rustle the notes, please. I can't really see what the problem you came with is.

  • (врач) Вы будете в очереди стоять или как? = (doctor) Are you going to wait in a queue or what?


Offering a bribe: 

  • Это вам чайку попить (протягивая коробку конфет). = Have a tea (holding out a box of chocolates).

  • Я вас озолочу. = I'll cover you with gold. (I'll make you rich.)

  • С меня магарыч. = I owe you a drink.

  • Будете кататься как сыр в масле. = You will livе in a clover.

  • Может быть, можно штраф заплатить? = Maybe I can pay a fine?

  • Не поймите, что это взятка, но т.к. на решение моего нестандартного вопроса вы потратите дополнительное время, оно будет вознаграждено. = Don't consider it a bribe, I just want to remunerate you for the time you need to spend solving my problem.

  • Христос сказал: каждый трудящийся достоин награды. = Christ said: the laborer is worthy of his hire.  

See the link below for the full list:


We should, however, be aware that what media shows us may not necessarily be a real picture of the country. According to some research, people prefer to pass on bad news rather than good news, which results in lots of negative headlines in newspapers every day. Concerning Russia, we got used to reading about bribery, extortion, corruption and even assassinations every now and then. Is it not, however, a bit of a distorted picture of Russia? Let’s forget for a while our crave for negative and sensational stories and have a look at some more positive stories.

Thomas Dix, Regional Head of Advisory, Russia & the CIS, KPMG Russia has been doing business in Russia for more than 25 years. In an interview for Voice of Russia he describes commonly widespread opinion about impossibility of legal business in Russia as a mystification of western media and assures that it is entirely possible to work in Russia on a fully legal basis. Moreover, he supposes that level of extortion in Greece and India is even higher than in Russia. 

Another interlocutor in the same interview, Jack Arnoff, a partner at the investment company Elbrus Capital Partners, explains what is so advantageous in doing business in Russia. First, the Russian market is one of the most profitable markets. Additionally, it is very unsaturated, as there is a huge number of services that are missing or not satisfactory developed. Second - the lack of debt. According to Jack, Russia is absolutely unleveraged, which is, in terms of stability and security, a very positive argument for new investors. Third - the value. Many Russian stock exchange companies are the cheapest in the world; they are generating strong cash flow and pay high dividends.

For the full interview see the link below: 

If western media spoke more about positive actions, they could be surprised that Russia has its own Julian Assange. This is Alexey Navalny, anti-corruption campaigner and blogger, lawyer by education, whose recent project called RosPil (one among others) is a platform where everyone can look through the government tenders and find discrepancies in prices and suspicious order descriptions. He doesn't only publish information about questionable government tenders, but always takes a legal action against venal organisations and companies, which is a reason why people call him one-man Russian “Wikileaks”. This leads to most corrupted tenders being cancelled and less government money spent on luxury and unnecessary purchases.

Navalny is not alone, many more people start similar projects in their regions, thus creating the basis for the civil society. The government has to react, even though sometimes reluctantly, and it seems like recently the first, very shy steps have been initiated by the state itself. 

To the delight of international businesses, on August 22, 2012, Russia finally, after 18 years of tiresome negotiations, became a WTO member. In spite of the fact that many Russians are not entirely happy about joining the WTO, millions of potential investors, producers and retailers from around the world hope to gain easier access to the fourth-largest market in Europe, because the proverbial Russian bureaucracy and inaccessibility may be reduced.

Both skeptical and believing advocates of Russian access to the WTO have their own truth. Russia can encounter some big problems because of reduction of import duties and taxes and follow-up loss of competitiveness. On the other hand, the competitiveness can be ameliorated by easier access to cheaper foreign products and services; Russia's position on international trade can be consolidated, and, last but not least, market liberalisation and influx of foreign competition may also help decrease corruption and bribery.


April Fools' Day in Russia

April Fools' Day is celebrated in many countries around the world including Russia. Russians call this day День смеха or День дурака (Den' smeha = Laugh day, Den' duraka = fools' day) and celebrate it in quite a similar way to other countries.

Nobody can say with certainty what the origin of this tradition is, but in Russia you can come across a very interesting explanation. Ancient Russians believed in many creatures, spirits and fairies inhabiting their world and influencing their lives. The negative or positive impact was associated with their good or bad mood. The good news is that you can buy them  (we are coming to bribery again :-).

One of the most famous spirits in Russian mythology is Домовой (Domovoy = [he] of the house). Traditionally, every house is said to have its Domovoy. It doesn't create evil unless you anger it. The Domovoy is seen as the home's guardian and some even treat them as part of the family and leave them gifts like milk and biscuits in the kitchen overnight. During winter, as ancient Russians believed, he enters hibernation, waking up only a couple of times to carry out the most necessary housework. The 1st April is the date when spring is indisputably coming and Domovoy decides to get up.  However, he is still drowsy and sleepy after a long rest and he is in a particularly bad mood. Because Domovoy in a bad mood is a real disaster for your household, you must feed him and cheer him up. It's not enough to just leave him a few biscuits on top of an oven. He demands a spectacle, an amusement, so you need to play jokes and hoaxes on your friends, sing humorous songs, wear funny clothes and do plenty of different wild stuff this day. Simply, on the first of April, you can be a fool.



"The Story Sensation: for learners of the Russian language (and not only for Guadeloupians!") by Ignaty Dyakov has now been published and is available on Amazon in the UK, the US and Europe and in selected London book-stores. It is a short sarcastic story, a detective line, written as an aid to making the Russian language study process a little bit more bearable for adult learners. The story uses approximately 800 words from such topics as clothes, food, politics, office, sports and gym, transport and business that are required for everyday communication. We are extremely pleased with the recent press coverage of the book and proud that it has been selected to get to the World Language Exhibition in Newcastle in March 2013.

For the Russian language textbook webpage - click here.


 Elementary level Russian language classes

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8 weeks, 16 hours

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