20 years under Putin: a timeline

President Saakashvili then declared a war on the mafia bosses and organized crime. The police force was created with this battle in mind; 2005 saw the founding of the Georgian Police Academy. The levels of public trust in the police were reported to have grown as early as a year later. We can safely say that overall, police reform in Georgia has been successful.

In the words of Shota Utiashvili, the Head of the Georgian Ministry of the Interior, “The most important consequence of the reforms is the apparent progress we have made in fighting corruption. Police officers have been notified that if they are found taking bribes, they will be put in jail. As a result, over 200 officers were imprisoned in 2005. The number was even greater in 2006. Since then, the number of police officers in jail for taking bribes has been on the decline.

The second tack in fighting corruption was raising salaries for all Ministry of Interior personnel. For example, in 2004, my salary was only 100 lari a month (about $70). [In 2011], it is 2300 lari (almost $1610). That is 23 times what it used to be.

Thirdly, we have eradicated the former custom of officials demanding ‘tithes’ [portions of money taken from bribes received—Ed.] from their subordinates, part of which they would keep, and part of which they would pass on to their superiors.

Many people had to be laid off. When Eduard Shevardnadse was in power, there were 70 thousand Ministry of the Interior employees. Today the staff numbers 16 thousand employees, which includes all police and public safety departments. Young and motivated new recruits were hired to replace those who were laid off.”

Data from Transparency International has reflected consistent improvement of the situation in Georgia.  For instance, in 2002, Georgia was ranked 85th (out of 105) on the Corruption Perceptions Index. In 2010, it was 68th out of 178. According to Transparency International, Georgia ranks 5th worldwide in terms of police corruption. At that, 78 % of Index respondents stated that the level of corruption has considerably declined, and only 3 % of respondents confessed to bribing officials in 2010, while  9 % thought that corruption levels had become worse.



The Georgian and Estonian numbers remain far out of Russia’s reach. The Law “On Police” was the subject of intense public debate even in its development stages. The law took effect more than a year ago.  However, Russian experience tells us that the letter of the law does little to ensure change--what matters is whether it will be enforced. In Russia, people are often more afraid of the police than of criminals. It will take many years for Russians, who are used to the “police dictatorship,” to develop trust in the authorities.

Simple measures such as increasing salaries will simply not be enough to fight corruption in Russia, especially in the law enforcement system. The tradition of bribery and corruption is centuries in the making, and bad habits die hard. In the meantime, another old proverb should be the order of the day: If you want to fix up the brothel, don’t repaint the walls, hire new girls.


1 Saar, Juri. Criminal Justice System and Process of Democratization in Estonia. с.27 / NATO Democratic Institutions Research Fellowship Final Report. Tallinn. 1999.

2 Прокудина Е.В. Организация полицейской системы Эстонии // Административное право и процесс. 2009. N6. С. 24 - 25.

3 Ibidem.