Back in 2002 Sergei Brin (pictured above), the founder of Google, was interviewed by the Red Herring technology website. He made some tough comments about Russia. He said Russia was like “Nigeria with snow” and was run by “a bunch of criminal cowboys.” He worried that it was very dangerous to have a country like Russia maintain so much influence in world energy markets. Brin had seen how Russia operated up close and personal when his company tried to do business there, and he was appalled.
When he compared Russia to Nigeria, Brin was referring to corruption. In 2002, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index placed Russia tied for a totally shocking #71 out of 102 nations in the world when ranked for political and economic corruption. Only 31 countries, in other words, had more corruption than Russia.
Brin actually wasn’t correct, though, in comparing Russia to Nigeria at that time. In 2002, Nigeria was #101 on the list of 102 countries, nearly at the bottom and much worse than Russia. The correct African country to have compared Russia to at that time was Zimbabwe, Tanzania or Ivory Coast, all of which were tied with Russia on the TICPI. Russia was also tied with the likes of lowly Hondoras.
But fast-forward to 2012, and things are quite different. In fact, Brin looks rather prescient now. The 2012 CPI places Russia tied again with Hondoras, this time for #133 on the list, while Nigeria is right behind at #139, tied with Pakistan. Only one point separates the scores of Nigeria and Russia on the most recent survey. They are, in terms of corruption, to all intents and purposes identical.