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Corruption on the Finnish-Russian border

2008 - 2009

The Finnish Ministry of Justice and HEUNI initiated a project on cross-border corruption between Finland and the Russian Federation (Republic of Karelia) in 2008.

The Russian partner in the project was The Northern Branch of the State regional institution of higher education “Russian Legal Academy of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation" in Petrozavodsk.

The aim of the project was to find out how Finnish and Russian authorities and representatives of enterprises engaged in cross-border activities define and understand corruption, in what ways corruption appears in the cross-border activities and what kind of experiences the interviewees have on corruption.

HEUNI collected and analysed the data, reported the results regarding Finland, and drafted the final report including the results from Finland and Russia. The Finnish report was published by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy (NRILP) as a joint HEUNI-NRILP publication, available here, and the joint Finnish-Russian report appeared in the HEUNI publication series nr 61.

The project was co-financed by the Finnish Ministry of Justice and the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Main findings and outcomes of the project:

  • A need for learning more about corruption and anti-corruption training was expressed by both civil servants and businesspersons in both countries.
  • A Finnish dilemma was caused by the difference between the two countries in the socio-cultural norms related to corruption. In cross-border activity, it was felt to be hard to decide whether one should behave according to Finnish or Russian norms – in specific situations, the Finnish businesspersons seemed mostly to follow the Russian socio-cultural norms.
  • The businesspersons thought that if compliance with corruptive requests was a necessity in order to be able to operate at all, then this was a necessary evil and acceptable as such.
  • The corruption examples that were described by Finnish respondents were all about Russian authorities or concerned situations where individual citizens had attempted to bribe a Russian or a Finnish civil servant. The most marked problems were experienced by Finnish road transport companies. Money was said to be collected from them on the border in the form of excess weight fees, and, once in Russia, as various penalty fines collected at traffic inspection stations.
  • The Russian respondents also identified other vulnerable spots for corruption. These included customs, migration authorities, travel agencies, the Finnish consulate, and Finnish entrepreneurs.