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Is the U.S. less corrupt than Russia?

Is the U.S. less corrupt than Russia?

Last year, University of Miami professor Karen Dawisha authored the book "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?" She traces the rise of Vladimir Putin and chronicles his rule. Her thesis is this: After a major political change — in this case, the breakup of the Soviet Union — most countries go through a period of instability and corruption but gradually bring lawlessness under control. In Russia, however, the exact opposite has happened: Russia has developed corruption into a fine art.

I've traveled to Russia twice in the past year, and friends and complete strangers have told me how corrupt it really is. Surprisingly, Russian media have depicted this in the...