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Civil Servants become a class of their own

The bureaucracy has emerged as a new political class with its own values and ways of life, and bureaucrats themselves acknowledge that they put their own interests above the public good, according to a study presented by a group of sociologists on Thursday.

Moreover, bureaucrats have become less efficient and more corrupt during the rule of President Vladimir Putin, even though he vowed in this year's state-of-the-nation address not to "hand the country over to ineffective, corrupt bureaucrats" who, in the words of the 1,500 average citizens and 300 low- and mid-ranking bureaucrats polled for the study, have degenerated into a "closed and arrogant caste."

"In Russia, a bureaucrat is no longer just a civil servant. They make up a caste that lives for itself and not for the interests of the people and the state," Mikhail Gorshkov, head of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said at a news conference. "This is the most tragic finding."

The study revealed dramatic differences between how Russians view bureaucrats and how the bureaucrats view themselves.

Ordinary people considered bureaucrats indifferent, corrupt and incompetent, while bureaucrats saw themselves as professional, industrious and efficient.

"Such a negative assessment of bureaucrats by citizens does not come out of the blue. It is formed by personal experience," said Gorshkov, who headed the study.

Respondents were divided over what they saw as the reasons behind inefficient bureaucracy: Ordinary people answered that civil servants had low ethical standards and were not afraid of being punished for their actions, while bureaucrats blamed large workloads and low salaries.

The study poked holes into those perceptions, finding that bureaucrats' salaries are three times higher than that of the average Russian and that none of the polled bureaucrats complained that their social status was low.

While perceptions differed in many areas, it was where they converged that worried the sociologists. Ordinary people and bureaucrats agreed that the primary goal of bureaucrats was to keep and increase personal wealth and power, even at the expense of the people.

Only 2 percent of ordinary people and 16 percent of bureaucrats said that bureaucrats were interested primarily in the prosperity of the country.

Source: The Moscow Times

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