We recognise that working in Russia can often be a grimy job, so news from the UK Guardian newspaper that members of President Dmitry Medvedevs’ security detail have ordered a 336,000 Ruble ($11,900 USD) bathtub should barely makes a splash in the media.
Some are calling it a scandal, but surely on the corrupt-o-meter, the Federal Protective Service (FSO) purchasing a German Burg Crono 2.0 mineral-cast bathtub that costs more than the average citizens annual wage, is barely a dip in the ocean?
Ok – enough of the water puns we promise and onto the serious stuff.
President Medvedev has sought to paint himself as crusader against corruption, and whether such purpose is cosmetic or futile, we must give him some credit: it is he that has tightened the legal system whereby all government procurement orders must be published online.
Thus, if it were not for Medvedev’s efforts, we would be none the wiser of the bathtub affair, or that clerks in Irkutsk ordered 25 fur hats at a cost of $17,770 USD, or the Federal Interior Ministry paying $142,000 USD for a hand-carved cherrywood bed with a headboard covered in 24-carat gold as well as an additional $81,600 USD for gilded furniture.
Medvedev himself has stated that Russia loses approximately $33 billion USD in bribes every year, and without doubt the actual figure is likely to be much higher.
In relation to the bathtub, the Federal Protective Service spokesman believed this was nothing more than a storm in a tea cup and that the almost $12,000 USD bathtub was not overpriced. There have been no public statements yet as to whether President Medvedev will get to use the bathtub.
If you’d like to check online at some of the “published” prices of goods, the site is zakupki.gov.ru