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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Russia Continues to Ignore the Very Notion of Property Rights

The Moscow Times reports that in Russia, as always, the tiny class of rich get richer, and the vast underclass of poor get early graves.

Russia Ranks 63rd in Property Rights Poll
International Property Rights Ranking
01Norway
02Netherlands
33India
35Lithuania
42Brazil
45China
58Ukraine
63Russia
Source: Property Rights Alliance

Widespread corruption and a lack of judicial independence, among other factors, put Russia toward the bottom of a new global property-rights index released Tuesday.

According to the Washington-based Property Rights Alliance, Russia ranks 63 out of 70 countries -- a notch above Pakistan and one below Nigeria -- when it comes to protecting intellectual and property rights.

Norway topped the list, while Bangladesh came in last. It was the group's first such compilation.

Russia "made a lot of solid steps over the past year," said Scott LaGanga, Property Rights Alliance's executive director.

But the study was critical of Russia's "legal and political environment."

Indeed, the Russian political system was deemed to be on a par with those of Pakistan, Venezuela and Ecuador.

Other factors that were taken into account in the alliance index were political stability, access to loans and public confidence in the courts system.

Fellow emerging-market countries India and China did much better than Russia, coming in at 33 and 45, respectively.

The study was based on surveys conducted by the World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and other groups.

The index encompasses 95 percent of the total world economic output, LaGanga said.

The study establishes a clear link between property rights and gross domestic product: The more property rights are protected, the higher the GDP.

"There are some who incorrectly claim that strict property protections prevent developing countries and their citizens from unlocking their potential," LaGanga said in the study.

"Such assertions are the opposite of the reality on the ground."

On average, countries in the index's top quarter were more than seven times wealthier than countries in the bottom quarter -- with a per capita GDP of nearly $33,000 compared to roughly $4,300.

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