RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE-RELATED LEGAL DOCUMENTS


On the Right to Information

Russian Federation Federal Draft Law
Signed by President of the Russian Federation
September 1997


The State Duma accepted in the first reading the draft federal law, "On the Right to Information," submitted by the President of the Russian Federation. The draft law was developed by the Ministry of Justice, the General Procuracy, the Committee on the Press, the Federal Service for Television and Radio Broadcasting, the Federal Agency of Government Communications and Information, the Main State Legal Administration, and the Judicial Chamber on Informational Disputes.

Article 1. Right to information - one of the basic rights of individual and citizen

In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, each person is guaranteed the right to information, that is the right to freely seek, obtain and transmit information. The right to information is an inalienable right of individual and citizen.

Foreign citizens and persons without citizenship exercise the right to information in the Russian Federation on par with citizens of the Russian Federation, except for the cases specified by federal law or international treaty of the Russian Federation.

Article 2. Relations regulated by the present federal law

The present federal law is called upon to facilitate implementation of rights and freedoms of individual and citizen, creative development of the individual, strengthening people"s power in the Russian Federation, and reinforcing the principles of a legal state. The present federal law establishes the conditions and procedure for realization of the right to information, the responsibilities of the state agencies, bodies of local self-government and organizations, regardless of their forms of ownership and organizational-legal form (henceforth -- agencies and organizations) in ensuring the implementation of the right to information.

The present federal law regulates relations arising in the process of realization of the constitutional right of every individual to freely seek, obtain and transmit information. Relations in the sphere of production and dissemination of information, and likewise in the sphere of obtaining information at the request of journalists (mass media editorial offices) are regulated by other federal laws.

Article 3. Legislation on the right to information

The legislation on the right to information consists of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the present federal law and other federal laws, standard legal statutes of the President of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation, and likewise the laws and other standard legal statutes of subjects of the Russian Federation.

Article 4. Basic principles of implementation of the right to information

The basic principles of implementation of the right to information are:
  • General accessibility and openness of information;
  • Provision of security of the individual, society and the state;
  • Information of the citizen regarding the activity of agencies and organizations;
  • Legality of seeking, obtaining and transmitting information;
  • Provision of reliable information;
  • Protection of the right to information.

    The right to information may be limited by federal law only to that degree to which this is necessary for purposes of defending the principles of the constitutional order, morality, health, rights and lawful interests of other persons, and ensuring the defense of the country and the security of the state.

    Article 5. Provision of access to information

    Access to information is ensured by agencies and organizations by means of publication or announcement in some other form of the information regarding their activity, including their legal status. The agencies of state power and bodies of local self-government publicize the legal statutes adopted by them in accordance with the legislatively established procedure.

    Agencies and organizations are obligated to report for general knowledge any information which has become known to them in the course of performance of their activity:
  • If it may prevent threat to life or health of citizens;
  • If it is necessary to suppress the reporting of unreliable information;
  • If it has or may have socially significant character.

    Every individual has the right to appeal, directly or through his representatives, to the agencies and organizations with a verbal or written request (petition) to familiarize himself with information which is of interest to him, and to obtain the appropriate explanations or copies of documents.

    With the exception of the cases specified in the present and other federal laws, at the request of a petitioner, agencies and organizations are obligated to provide the requested information for familiarization, or to give the necessary explanations or issue copies of documents (henceforth -- provision of information).

    Article 6. Demands on request for receipt of information

    The request for receipt of information specifies the surname, first name and patronymic of the petitioner, and the name of the document being requested or character of requested information. A written request also indicates the address to which the response should be sent.

    Article 7. Procedure for review of request for receipt of information

    The response to the request for receipt of information must be given in the shortest possible time, but no later than 30 days after the day of receipt of the request, unless otherwise specified by federal law. If the requested information cannot be presented within the specified time, the petitioner is sent written notification of postponement of provision of the requested information. The notification must indicate the reasons for the delay in provision of the requested information.

    If the agency or organization does not possess the requested information, it must inform the petitioner of this fact no later than 7 days after receipt of the request, and also provide him with the name and address of the agency or organization, including archives, which, according to the available data, possess the requested information. At the discretion of the petitioner, the response to the request may be given in verbal or written form. The response may specify the agency, organization or person who has at his disposal more complete information on the request.

    Agencies of state authority and bodies of local self-government responding to an inquiry on a published legal statute have the right to limit themselves to provision of materials on the publication and explanations of its repeal, ruling of ineffectiveness or invalidity, or introduced changes and amendments.

    Written requests are subject to registration in mandatory order.

    Article 8. Information not subject to provision upon request

    Agencies and organizations may refuse to provide information on inquiries if the requested information contains materials:
  • Which comprise a state secret;
  • On implementation of operative-search and investigative activity in accordance with lawfully established procedure;
  • On judicial review of civil and criminal cases in instances when disclosure of this information is prohibited by law or may violate the right of an individual to an objective judicial review of his case or pose a threat to the life or health of a citizen;
  • Which comprises a commercial or official secret;
  • About the private life of another person, without his consent;
  • Access to which is limited by other federal laws.

    If the document contains materials listed in the present article, familiarization with such document, its explanation and issuance of copies are limited to the part of the document which does not contain the aforementioned material.

    Article 9. Grounds and procedure for refusal to provide information

    Grounds for refusal to provide information may be:
  • Failure to adhere to requirements for inquiry as specified in Article 6 of the present federal law;
  • A request for receipt of information containing materials listed in Article 8 of the present federal law.

    Report notes, correspondence, draft documents, official authorizations and other official information are not subject to mandatory provision upon request.

    Refusal to provide information must specify the reasons for which the requested information cannot be presented, the date of adoption of the decision on refusal, as well as an explanation of the procedure for its appeal.

    Refusal to provide information, postponement in provision of information, failure to give response within the time specified by the present federal law, and likewise violation of the specified terms may be appealed to a higher agency in the order of subordination, or to a state agency ensuring provision of the right to information, or to court.

    Article 10. Procedure for compensating expenditures associated with provision of information

    Agencies and organizations are obligated to provide, free of charge, lists of information which they have, and services associated with its receipt.

    Information concerning the rights and freedoms of the petitioning individual is provided free of charge.

    A fee may be charged for provision of other information, not to exceed the expenditures for its provision. Upon receipt of such information, the citizen presents certification of payment in accordance with the established procedure. Organizations whose primary activity consists of providing information on a commercial basis independently determine the amount of payment to be charged for it.

    An agency or organization which provides information containing inaccurate or incomplete material is obligated to make the necessary corrections and amendments free of charge, upon motivated written request of an interested person.

    Article 11. Guarantees of safekeeping of information

    For the duration of the term specified by the legislation, agencies and organizations are obligated to keep their adopted statutes and statutes of agencies and organizations of whom they are legal successors, as well as statutes which established their legal status, and to keep a register of these statutes.

    The register must contain the name, date of adoption and number of each issued statute, and information on its publication. The agency or organization keeping the register may establish other mandatory requirements for the register.

    Agencies and organizations form electronic data banks, as specified in part one of the present article, and make provision for their completeness, reliability, up-to-date nature, and protection against distortions and unauthorized access.

    Article 12. Judicial protection of the right to information

    Action (inaction) of agencies and organizations or their officials which violate the right to information may be appealed in court.

    Article 13. Responsibility for violation of right to information

    Officials of agencies and organizations guilty of violating the right to information bear liability in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.

    Article 14. Concluding principles

    The present federal law shall become effective on the day of its official publication.

    Standard legal statutes adopted prior to implementation of the present federal law shall remain in effect insofar as they do not contradict it.

    Within 3 month"s time, the Government of the Russian Federation shall submit to the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation proposals on bringing the legislative statutes into correspondence with the present federal law.

    Within 3 month"s time, the President of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation shall bring their standard legal statutes into correspondence with the present federal law.