What's New

  • 4 September 2014

    Russian FOI Organization Declared Foreign Agent  

    Russia’s Ministry of Justice Aug. 29 declared the Freedom of Information Foundation a “foreign agent.” FIF joins 12 other Russian NGOs with that designation, accused of carrying out “political activities” and receiving foreign funding. The groups are subject to audits, supervision and potential criminal or administrative penalty policies under the Foreign Agent Law. The “foreign […]

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    • 7 August 2014

      FOI Notes: Russia, Africa, Open Data, OGP, US, Germany, India, More

      Russia: Russia’s Federal Migration Service is seeking to deport the American wife of Ivan Y. Pavlov, the founder of the Institute for Freedom of Information Development, the New York Times reported. His wife, Jennifer Gaspar, has lived in Russia for a decade, working for a variety of nongovernmental organizations, including groups focused on human rights […]

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      freedom of information: overview

      Russia’s Law on Providing Access to Information on the Activities of State Bodies and Bodies of Local Self-Government, passed by the lower house of the legislature (State Duma) on January 21, 2009. It is a significant reversal of long-standing traditions of government secrecy and has the dubious distinction of being the longest-debated bill in the recent history of the Duma. The law was first introduced in January 2007, was signed by President Dimitry Medvedev on February 9, 2009, and comes into effect on January 1, 2010. For the first time in the Russian history, the law positively guarantees the rights of Russian citizens to request and receive information, outlines a procedure for such requests, and determines government responsibility for providing such information. 

      LEARN MORE: in-depth overview | news archive | ngos | chronology | further reading

      NGOs and civil society

      The Institute for Information Freedom Development (IIFD): a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization established in 2004 dedicated to investigating, identifying and solving problems of access to socially significant information in Russia. In particular, the Institute focuses on access to governmental information and information about the activities of state agencies through legal recourse and organizational means.

      The Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG): Founded in 1975, MGH is the oldest contemporary human rights organization in Russia and was severely repressed until the group could re-establish itself in 1989. MHG’s mission is “to assist human rights observation and democracy development in Russia.” As part of this mission, MGH publishes an annual report on the state of human rights in Russia.

      Memorial: Originally a movement to preserve the historical memory of Russian political oppression, Memorial has partnered with dozens of organizations in Kazakhstan, Latvia, Georgia, and the Ukraine in research, advocacy, and education activities.

      Citizens Watch: a group of Russian human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, and deputies in the State Duma dedicated to protecting constitutional rights, civic control, and public oversight over government affairs.

      Human Rights Watch—Russia

      Transparency International, Russia

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        News Archive

        • 5 August 2014

          New System Evaluates Four Countries’ Online Disclosures

          The adequacy of online information disclosure in four countries has been tested with a new methodology that the researchers hope can be refined for wider use. The study covers four countries – Russia, the United States, Georgia and Belarus. It examines whether their official websites provide information in 47 specific categories and rates the adequacy […]

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          • 16 January 2014

            2013: Information Freedom and Open Government

            By Asya Suvorova This retrospective article appeared first in Russian on the website of the Freedom of Information Foundation, based in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is also here in English. It was translated by Inna Kremen. Everything seems to have mixed up in the world: in European countries with advanced democratic customs, citizens regularly met difficulties […]

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            • 7 October 2013

              Awards Programs Reward Effort, Chastise Opacity

              By Toby McIntosh Only this audience would laugh so heartily at five surrealistic stories about government denials of access to public information. The incredulous appreciation of unfortunate stories stemmed from shared experience. The 100 persons attending the annual awards ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, were a community celebrating the pro-transparency efforts of journalists, activists and public officials. “Golden Key” […]

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              • 31 May 2013

                Russian House Adopts Criticized Open Data Bill

                The lower house of the Russian parliament has adopted amendments to require the publication of information on the websites of governments in open data formats. The Duma, however, did not revise the bill to take into account a number of proposals to improve the FZ-8 submitted by the Freedom of Information Foundation. “As is seen, […]

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                • 17 May 2013

                  Russia Leaving OGP; Provides No Explanation

                  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 […]

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                  • 25 March 2013

                    Russian Officials Pay Surprise Visit to FOI Group

                    Russian government officials on March 21 conducted a surprise visit to the St. Petersburg office of the Foundation for Information Freedom. Arriving at the office about noon, the four officials — an assistant district prosecutor, two police officers, and a tax inspector – stayed for an hour and a half and left a long list […]

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                    • 15 January 2013

                      Russian Court Ruling Aids Release of Soviet Era Secrets

                      By Svetlana Savranskaya Savranskaya is a staff member at the National Security Archive. Documents labeled “secret” during the Soviet era may be declassified, the Russian Constitutional Court has ruled, apparently removing a roadblock that has frustrated historians. The Russian Constitutional Court issued the clarification in response to a complaint from a prominent historian, Nikita Petrov, deputy chair […]

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                      • 18 September 2012

                        Russia Launches Web Portal About Open Government

                        By Nate Jones Jones is the Freedom of Information Coordinator at the National Security Archive who is also currently working with the Freedom of Information Foundation in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The government of the Russian Federation has launched its “Open Government” web portal to inform and solicit advice from its citizens as it attempts “to […]

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                        • 7 September 2012

                          Russian FOI Foundation Resists Registration as a Foreign Agent

                          By Nate Jones Jones is the Freedom of Information Coordinator at the National Security Archive who is also currently working with the Freedom of Information Foundation in Saint Petersburg, Russia. According to the Russian federal law 121-FZ, “On the Regulation of Noncommercial Organizations Acting as Foreign Agents,” Russian noncommercial organizations funded from abroad that engage […]

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                          • 17 August 2012

                            Russian Foundation Launches Russian OGP Website

                            By Nate Jones Jones is the Freedom of Information Coordinator at the National Security Archive who is also currently working with the Freedom of Information Foundation in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The Freedom of Information Foundation, a Russian civil society group, has launched the website to provide Russians with Russian language information about the Open […]

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                            • 16 August 2012

                              Russian Group Suggests Ideas for OGP Action Plan

                              The Freedom of Information Foundation in Russia has advanced an extensive list of ideas for the government to include in the national action plan to be prepared in light of its membership in the Open Government Partnership. Russia joined the OGP in April. FIF suggested a variety of “organizational measures” such as establishing a body to […]

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                              • 6 February 2012

                                President Medvedev Says Russia Should Join OGP

                                Russian President President Dmitry Medvedev Feb. 6 suggested that Russia should consider joining the Open Government Partnership, according to a Russian media report. “I believe it stands to reason for us to consider participation in this [initiative],” Medvedev said, according to the RioNovosti story. “Let’s look into it,” he said. Medvedev said at the same […]

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                                • 27 May 2011

                                  Regional Russian Websites Found Lacking in IIFD Report

                                  The Institute for Information Freedom Development has issued a report on the official websites of 83 executive government bodies of the Russian Federation. The monitoring results showed that Russian regional governments provided only 38% of the information on their activities that must be published according to the Russian FOI law, according to IIFD. “Therefore, the […]

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                                  • 18 April 2011

                                    Russian Compliance With Two New Laws Faulted

                                     Russian agencies and courts are not abiding by two relatively recent transparency laws, according to a watchdog group’s annual report, which colorfully states, “One cannot stop a ripping rusty locomotive with a mere gesture.” Summarizing the situation, Institute for Information Freedom Development Board Chairman Ivan Pavlov, wrote: Unfortunately, as it is often the case in our country, […]

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                                    • 12 June 2009

                                      EIB Proposes Limit on Disclosure of Framework Agreements, Invites Public Comment on Transparency Policies

                                      The European Investment Bank (EIB) is proposing to let countries decide whether to disclose the “Framework Agreement” documents that guide EIB lending to individual countries. Tajikistan is one such country getting EIB help. On February 11, 2009, the EIB announced that the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, and EIP President Philippe Maystadt […]

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                                      • 22 May 2009

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                                        ? ??? 2009 ???? ?? ??????? ????????? ? ?????? ???? ????????? ?????? ??????? ??????? ? ?????????? ? ?????????  ???????? ? ??????? ??????, ?????? — ????? 25 ?????????? ??????? ?????????? ?? ??????????? ??????? ????????? ? 8 ?? 11  ??? 2009 ??? ?????????? ??????????????? ? ??????? ? ??????? ? ??? ????????? ????? ????????? ??? ?????????? ????? ??????? […]

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                                        • 22 May 2009

                                          Caucasus FOI Advocates Discuss Common Problems and Plan Cooperation

                                          May 2009 Workshop in Georgia Compares FOI Laws and Practices Across Region Telavi, Georgia — Some 25 freedom of information advocates and practitioners from the Caucasus region convened on May 8-11, 2009, to compare the laws and the practices across the region and to outline some common strategies to strengthen the right of access in […]

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                                          • 7 April 2009

                                            Brazil Pledges to Pass Right to Information Bill

                                            Lula Government Drafting New Law with High-Level Support; Civil Society/Media Coalition Campaigns for Access to Information International Seminar April 1-2 Opens Public Debate on Proposed Law; First Draft Lacks Independent Agency for Implementation and Appeals Brasilia, Brazil — The Lula government in Brazil last week publicly committed to pass a right-to-information law this year, thus […]

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                                            • 27 January 2009

                                              Russian Government Heeds Civil Society’s Call for Access to Information Law

                                              Moscow, Russia — On January 21, 2009, the same day that US President Barack Obama took decisive steps for transparency and accountability in the US government, the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament, the State Duma, passed the Bill on Ensuring Access to Information about Activities of State Organs and Organs of Local Administration. The […]

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                                              • 31 October 2008

                                                Constitutional Norms Often Not Reflected in Official Practice or Citizen Attitudes

                                                First-ever Nationwide Study Asks, “Glass Half-Full or Half-Empty?” St. Petersburg, Russian Federation — The leading access-to-information organization in Russia has published a detailed legal and sociological analysis of the state of access in the Russian Federation, identifying contradictions between the Constitutional right in Article 29 (for every person to “seek, get, transfer, produce and disseminate […]

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                                                • 24 March 2008

                                                  Russia Urges IMF to Disclose Key Governance Proposal

                                                  The major ongoing discussion within the International Monetary Fund about how to revamp its voting structure is nearing completion but without the release of key recommendations by the IMF staff. While such opacity is typical for the IMF, has learned that at least one country, Russia, has recommended that the staff paper be released. […]

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                                                  • 1 April 2007

                                                    EBRD Makes Modest Changes to Assist Requesters

                                                    The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has modified some portions of its disclosure policy, largely making procedural changes that may make it easier to make requests for information. However, the Bank did not adopt a handful of other recommendations from civil society commenters, such as CEE Bankwatch and the Global Transparency Initiative. The changes […]

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                                                    • 22 March 2006

                                                      EBRD Seeks Comment on Draft of New Disclosure Policy

                                                      At the London-based European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the board recently released a proposal to modify its disclosure policies, with comments due April 14. The EBRD included in its announcement a number of new provisions. First, two new categories of information would be disclosed: General Institutional Information and Accountability and Governance. Second, the EBRD […]

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                                                      • 9 August 2005

                                                        EIB Declines to Release Ukranian Framework Agreement

                                                        The European Investment Bank has declined to release the text of a framework agreement recently signed with Ukrainian leaders. Although the EIB a year ago promised the release of framework agreements (with a few caveats), officials replying to a request said those caveats mean that disclosure will not occur until after the agreement is […]

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                                                        • 9 August 2005

                                                          Pakistan Newspaper Reports on Nonpublic World Bank Document

                                                          A newspaper in Pakistan has written about a nonpublic World Bank report evaluating ten years of World Bank activities in Pakistan and shedding light on the process of preparing such major evaluations. The evaluation report is generally unfavorable to the World Bank, according to the Business Recorder, which wrote about the conclusions in a July […]

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                                                          • 9 May 2005

                                                            REPORT: Article 19 on Freedom of Information in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

                                                            A report from London-based NGO Article 19 on freedom of information legislation and its impact on the news media in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, finds that problems with implementation, state secrets legislation, and a Soviet-style predilection for excessive secrecy have created "the environment for arbitrary refusals, manipulation of information, and, in extreme cases, even release […]

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                                                            • 1 May 2003

                                                              EBRD Modifies Disclosure Policy; US Says Reforms Insufficient

                                                              The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development April 29 approved amendments to its Public Information Policy over the objections of the United States. Specifically, the United States urged the bank to release draft versions of proposed country strategies before they are sent to the executive board for approval. The United States also pushed for the […]

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                                                              • 1 April 2003

                                                                85 NGOs Write EBRD on Transparency, Environment

                                                                Representatives of Russia, Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asian NGOs submitted a letter to the EBRD Jan. 21 calling for access to more environmentally significant information on Bank projects. In particular, the groups wrote: "The following changes are necessary in the revised Policies to improve access to environmentally significant information: — Provide the public information, […]

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                                                                • 1 November 2002

                                                                  EBRD Announces Proposal to Modify Public Information Policy

                                                                  The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development Bank Oct. 23 proposed revisions to its Public Information Policy and invited public comment by Dec. 6. At the same time, the EBRD requested public reactions to an update of its policies on environmental reviews. Further, the EBRD unveiled a proposal for an “Independent Recourse Mechanism.” This would […]

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                                                                  • 15 July 2002

                                                                    World’s Right to Know

                                                                    By Thomas Blanton Published in Foreign Policy, July/August 2002 During the last decade, 26 countries have enacted new legislation giving their citizens access to government information. Why? Because the concept of freedom of information is evolving from a moral indictment of secrecy to a tool for market regulation, more efficient government, and economic and technological […]

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                                                                    in-depth overview | news archive | ngos | chronology | further reading | excerpt from Global Survey

                                                                    legal documents

                                                                    Law on Providing Access to Information on the Activities of State Bodies and Bodies of Local Self-Government (in English)


                                                                    Constitution of the Russian Federation, 1993 (in Russian)


                                                                    Constitution of the Russian Federation, 1993 (in English)



                                                                    Svetlana Savranskaya
                                                                    The National Security Archive's director for cooperative projects with Russian archives and institutes and editor of the Russian and East Bloc Archival Documents Database



                                                                    Measuring Openness

                                                                    Global Right to Information Rating
                                                                    A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

                                                                    Freedom House
                                                                    The Freedom in the World report.

                                                                    World Bank
                                                                    Worldwide Governance Indicators

                                                                    Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
                                                                    Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

                                                                    Reporters Without Borders
                                                                    The Press Freedom Index.