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Russian government to restrict access to its activity

Mikhail Fradkov's government intends to classify all the information concerning the upcoming decisions as secret, prohibiting government officials from discussing such issues with strangers, reports newspaper “Vedomosti."

Head of Russian parliament Mikhail Fradkov stated the following during one of the parliamentary meetings: “It isn't right to advertise something that has not been confirmed”. He also asked ministers to refrain from making any “premature” comments to press regarding those issues that have not been yet affirmed by the government.

The Prime Minister went even further. “vedomosti” got a hold of a draft of new parliamentary rules, which is scheduled to be submitted for consideration June 3rd. The draft clearly states that all incoming materials and decisions concerning them “until they are published, are to be regarded as confidential.”

Government officials were stunned by such decision. “I almost fell off the chair after reading the document; it forbids commenting practically any question until its official publication or unless directed by the Prime Minister,” says a member of one of federal ministries.

According to another official, “the same regime of secrecy used to exist under Primakov.” More so, Primakov's staff was always on guard looking for “leaks,” while spreading exact same documents throughout different departments. But, as Attorney General of Primakov's government Pavel Krashennikov recalls, even then “it was presumed that those issues of public importance could be discussed before the final decision has been made.”

Even those government officials of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, who asked to classify information concerning the upcoming change of customs tariffs be secret, were surprised of the cruelty of such decision.

First deputy minister of economic development Mikhail Dmitriev says that in the end of June the government plans to examine the draft “of information access of activity of state structure,” which, on the contrary, makes all the documents public.

Openness of the government's activity varies from country to country. According to Washington Expert Mark Miles, in the US for instance, private correspondence between officials can in fact remain confidential; however, any official statement has to be made public.

Russian experts are outraged by the upcoming plans of the Russian government. “If this will be put to practice, then some will possess exclusive information; this fact always opens up new horizons for corruption,” says Miles.