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Corruption getting worse in Central Asia - report

Publisher EurasiaNet
Author Geyla Leshchinskiy
Publication Date 1 October 2007
Cite as EurasiaNet, Corruption getting worse in Central Asia - report, 1 October 2007, available at: [accessed 27 November 2015]
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Geyla Leshchinskiy: 10/01/07

Central Asian states are among the most corrupt in the world, a new survey reports. Meanwhile, the report, issued by the international watchdog organization Transparency International, indicated that the problem of corruption is easing in the Caucasus.

Uzbekistan ranked as the most corrupt Central Asian state, coming in at 175th out of the 180 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2007. Turkmenistan was pegged at 162nd, while Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all tied for 150th place. Denmark, Finland and New Zealand were shown to be the cleanest country in the 2007 survey.

Alarmingly, corruption-related problems are growing worse in all five Central Asian states, according to the formula used by Transparency International to measure the extent of graft. Relying on a wide variety of surveys and available data, the organization assigns each country a CPI score ranging from zero to 10, with 10 representing the complete absence of corruption. Thus, the lower the CPI number, the higher the corruption level in a given country.

Kazakhstan – a nation experiencing double-digit growth, driven by the development of natural resources – experienced the sharpest rise in corruption, according to the survey. Astana registered a 2.1 CPI score this year, a drop of half a point from 2006. Uzbekistan experienced the second largest drop-off, receiving a 1.7 CPI score in 2007 after registering a 2.1 the previous year.

Transparency's findings could prove especially damaging for Kazakhstan, which is seeking to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. European Union nations, along with the United States, have expressed concern over the past year about Kazakhstan's commitment to democratization. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The corruption report is unlikely to assuage those concerns.

The fact that civil society organization have found it increasingly difficult to operate in the region, especially in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, could be related to the deepening of corruption, Transparency International representatives suggest. "Civil society organizations play a vital watchdog role, can help stimulate demand for reform and also bring in expertise on technical issues," Corbus de Swardt, Transparency's managing director, said in a written statement issued September 26, the same day the 2007 CPI was released. "Increasingly, many governments are moving to restrict the operating space of civil society."

While the news was uniformly grim concerning corruption patterns in Central Asia, there were several positive developments in the Caucasus, where both Armenia and Georgia showed improvement in containing corruption.

Georgia's CPI score climbed to 3.4 this year, up from 2.8 in 2006. Armenia registered a modest gain of one-tenth of a point, checking in at a 3.0 in the 2007 survey. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, joined Central Asian states in experiencing a worsening of corruption. Baku's 2.1 CPI score in 2007 was 0.3 points lower than the previous year. In the 2007 survey, Georgia ranked 79th, Armenia 99th and Azerbaijan at 150th.

Editor's Note: Geyla Leshchinskiy is an editorial associate at EurasiaNet.

Posted October 1, 2007 © Eurasianet

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