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.