The lower house of the  on Tuesday approved a bill increasing fines for bribes by up to 100 times the amount of the bribe given or accepted.

The offer or promise of  in bribe-taking, including the physical handing over of the bribe, carries a fine of 25,000 to 500 million  ($880 to $18 million) combined with a work ban of up to three years.

Over 60% of people convicted of  in 2010 received a bribe of under 25,000 rubles with about 3% convicted of accepting a bribe between 150,000 rubles ($5,000) to 1 million rubles ($33,000), according to presidential envoy to the  Garry Minkh.

The bill provides for custodial sentence as an alternative to a fine, which has led critics to argue the new law is open to interpretation and could lead to abuses.

They have also suggested that the size of bribes might grow as a result.

President Dmitry Medvedev’s anti-corruption drive has so far yielded few practical results.

The number of corruption-related  involving top government officials and large bribes increased 100% in 2010 year-on-year, Russian Interior Minister  Nurgaliyev said in January.

The Berlin-based non-governmental anti-corruption organization Transparency  has persistently rated  as one of the most corrupt nations in the . In the 2009  was ranked 146 out of 180 countries, with a ranking below countries like Togo, Pakistan and Libya.

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