Putin criticises customs officers’ YouTube video

16 Feb 2011

A YouTube video in which a group of Russian customs officers celebrate the lavish lifestyle they say comes with their jobs has drawn criticism from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

“You can’t even imagine how the customs officials have fun,” the officers sing in the mock rap video, which was made in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.

In the clip, blinged-out customs officials drive a Rolls Royce, drink champagne and are surrounded by scantily clad women.

Putin condemned the video’s tongue-in-cheek look at corruption.

“Discipline is needed in several of the divisions, we have to raise it a little,” Putin said at a meeting with the head of the Federal Customs Service. “I like to joke and laugh a little myself, but this kind of creativity should be saved for a talent show.”

No disciplinary action has been at this stage against the officers who posted the video.

The amount of the average bribe in Russia (about 740) is the same amount customs officials earn in a month, a recent report in the financial daily Vedomosti said.

Government officials – the customs service, in particular – have been accused of corruption and of taking bribes to carry out standard procedures.