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Corruption in Bulgaria breaks 15-year record: study

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(SOFIA) - Corruption in Bulgaria broke a 15-year record in 2014, with some 158,000 bribes paid out each month in the EU's poorest and most graft-prone country, a new study showed on Thursday.

The survey also found Bulgarians viewing lawmakers and the executive branch as being most corrupt.

According to a report by the Sofia-based think-tank Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), in 2014 39.4 percent of Bulgaria's population above the age of 18 were pressured to pay bribes in the form of money, favours or presents.

Some 29.3 percent of respondents in the respected study said they had paid bribes.

The results in both categories were the highest since the CSD launched its annual study in 1999. At that time, 34.2 percent of respondents said they had been asked to pay bribes, and 28.7 percent said they had done so.

In most cases, corruption pressure came from public administration officials, the study showed.

"The fact that most Bulgarians are against corruption, but are nevertheless involved in corrupt practises, shows a structural problem in governance -- corruption turns into an additional cost for the use of administrative services," the report said.

Seven years after joining the European Union, former communist Bulgaria is still subject to strict monitoring by Brussels over its high corruption rates, and slow and inefficient judiciary.

Corruption, together with dire poverty, is also a major source of public anger, and has contributed to political crises that has seen two governments collapse in the past two years amid major protests.

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