Russia Leaving OGP; Provides No Explanation

17 May 2013

Russia has withdrawn from membership in the Open Government Partnership.

An official communication that it would drop out was received May 17, although it had signaled its intention several months ago and did not attend ther ministerial meeting in London last month, according to OGP-connected sources.

Russia’s letter of intent to join is dated April 17, 2012, but is the only document on the OGP website.

A draft national action plan was prepared, but was never completed or submitted. Most other members who joined around that time have completed their plans.

Russia’s withdrawal brings OGP membership to 57 countries. Russia is the only country to join and then leave.

Russian Decision “Unsportsmanlike”

Russia’s decision to withdraw has continued to draw critical comment.

Ivan Pavlov, the chairman of the Foundation for Information Freedom in Russia, write in a OGP blog post, wrote:

“Russia’s about face on the Open Government Partnership appears unsportsmanlike. It seems that the country has refused to participate in an esteemed international forum where it could demonstrate its formidable strengths related to openness and transparency because it fears to show its weaknesses.”

In a Moscow Times article, Russian officials implied that Russia might rejoin later.

“We are not talking about winding up plans to join, but corrections in timing and the scale of participation are possible,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying in another newspaper, Kommersant.

Russia has sought various changes at the OGP, another official was quoted as saying: described by the Moscow Times as linking transparency assessments provided by the OGP to investment ratings, increasing the number of member and observer states, as well as changing the principles of financing the organization.

OGP officials said they were unfamiliar with these points, saying they were never formally raised.

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