Global Integrity Report on Belarus

WASHINGTON – The annual report of Global Integrity, a Washington D.C.-based independent think-tank, tracked corruption trends around the world.

A new Global Integrity’s Grand Corruption Watch List of for 2008 includes: Angola, Belarus, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Iraq, Montenegro, Morocco, Nicaragua, Serbia, Somalia, the West Bank, and Yemen; these countries are at serious risk for high-level corruption.

It is interesting that Belarus has the highest score in the category of customs and taxes. This is in contrast to the World Bank’s assessment, which ranked the Belarusian tax system as the worst (i.e. the most complicated) in the world.

Global Integrity’s lead researcher summarized the political reality in Belarus by noting, “there is no ruling political party. In Belarus, we have A. Lukashenko and his authoritarian state.” Stemming from this, there is little accountability at the executive, legislative or judicial branches, as can be seen in the inaccessibility of government records and candidates’ willful ignoring of political financing regulations.

In addition, the government has created an environment in which a viable and independent civil society cannot exist. “All projects, researches and organizations which dare to criticize the current situation in Belarus meet governmental interference.” International and national financing of civil society groups is restricted by the government, 85% of the newspapers in circulation are state-owned and government intimidation of trade union members caused the European Union to impose sanctions on Belarus in 2007.

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