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What is corruption?

Corruption (in Latin corruptio - depravity, moral decadence, venality) according to the most common definition is misuse of official position and the rights arising from it for the purpose of gaining riches or for other kind of personal gain. However, in reality it is often difficult to define corruption unambiguously, therefore understanding its contents is extremely important. Corruption awareness may be individual but general principles are established by the society and they are prescribed in the legislation by legislative power. Corrupt behaviour of officials is most often characterized by the aspect of income derived from corrupt practices - giving/receiving a bribe, which is for example receiving presents, reward, holding in return for making a particular decision.

There is a widespread understanding that corruption is first of all an internal problem of a state unlike terrorism or international organised crime. In recent years however there has been a growing awareness across the globe of the direct or indirect connection between corruption and the spread of different types of crime, and resulting from that between corruption and the maintenance of transnational security.

Impacts and consequences of corruption

On national economy - first of all promotes inequality in the society and violates the principles of honest competitiveness. The economic sector marred by corruption can for instance suffer a decline in the quality of work and services as well as an increase in the prices of goods and services (at the expense of granted gratuities, bribes and robbed property). This will in turn diminish investments into the country and jeopardize normal sustainable growth. Emerging black economy will restrain innovation and is, inter alia, conducive to the emergence of budget deficit. The international reliability of the state will decrease.

On internal security - corruption gives rise to internal crises and unreliability on state authority, resulting also in an increase in criminality and a decrease in public security.  The uncontrolled spread of corruption will weaken internal and external defence of a state, at the same time magnifying the rise and spread of extremist (violence-inducing) ideas/movements. It should be borne in mind that a corrupt official is undoubtedly a good target for hostile foreign intelligence services. All things considered, democracy and protection of human rights as well as organisation of state could be in danger.


Corruption should be reported if there is reasonable doubt that an official, to your knowledge, has for example violated an Act, misused power, demanded a gift or money in return for a decision or has committed any other offence. Corruption can be reported to the Estonian Internal Security Service 24-hour Confidential Hotline (+372) 612 1455.