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Access to Information Key to Fighting Corruption in Russia

(Washington, DC--June 12, 2002) A Russian anti-corruption expert said in a briefing today at RFE/RL's Washington office that new legislation is not the answer to fighting corruption in Russia, rather the key measure is increasing public access to information.

Boris Demidov, General Manager of Transparency International-Russia (TI-Russia), said that making all information in Russia, except that dealing with national security, accessible to the general public will increase citizens’ trust in government, make its officials more accountable and lead to greater transparency.

Among the ongoing projects of TI-Russia is creating a national anti-corruption resource center, holding annual workshops to assess successful tools and projects for fighting corruption, and conducting a Soros-funded nation-wide opinion poll on how Russians perceive corruption.

Transparency International-Russia is currently working with local legislators on a new anti-corruption law in the exclave Kaliningrad region. The local legislature in Kaliningrad is scheduled to take a final vote on the draft law on June 27th. Whether the governor signs the bill into law will be a good test of the federal center's willingness to combat corruption, especially after Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the need for it in his April State of the Nation Address.

Transparency International-Russia is the national chapter in Russia of Transparency International, a non-governmental organization devoted to combating corruption throughout the world that was founded a decade ago. TI-Russia was launched in 1999 and currently has a staff of ten.