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Open Government Partnership says Russia is not joining, the Kommersant reports

May 20, 2013, 12:53 UTC+3

This will not affect the work of Russia's Open Government

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Russia officially refused to join the international organization Open Government Partnership /OGP/. The membership bid was personally initiated by Dmitry Medvedev in the spring of 2012, the OGP said a report on Twitter. This will not affect the work of Russia's Open Government. "OGP confirms that Russia withdrew its letter of intent to join the Partnership," the report said.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov assured the Kommersant that Russia was not scaling down work, but "adjusting the dates and the scope of its participation" in OGP.

On February 6, 2012, President Medvedev stated at a meeting with a public committee of his supporters that joining OGP would be "quite interesting" to Russia. Two months later, the Russian Foreign Ministry sent to OGP an official letter of intent to join the organization. Under the OGP aegis, Russia began to develop 'a national plan of actions' to join OGP. It was to have been presented at the OGP leadership conference in London in April 23-24, while formal ascension was planned at the September summit of the organization.

However, the decision on OGP membership was revised this year. "The decision was made by the president after consultations with the prime minister. It is consolidated," Minster for Open Government Mikhail Abyzov told the Kommersant.

"The government explains the postponement by technicalities. "OGP principles need major changes, so President Putin issued the instruction to prepare, together with the Foreign Ministry, our proposals aimed at optimizing the principles and mechanisms," Abyzov said.

Specifically, Russia wants the ratings of the openness of a country given by OGP to "directly influence the ratings of a country's investment attractiveness, such as Doing Business by the World Bank /by which Russia is at the 101st place by easiness of company registration/.

"In that event, membership in the partnership, aside from exchange of practices, acquires a physical sense," the minister noted. Also, various intensity of participation in OGP might be envisioned /as an observer, for example/. The proposals should be ready by yearend.

Mr Abyzov claims that Russia has been stepping up its interaction with OGP. At the G-8 summit in June, to be chaired by Great Britain which also holds OGP presidency at present, the agenda will include "many issues of the transparency of economies, governance and OGP mechanisms." Russia will present an international charter on open information at the summit.

"Our open governance plan does not depend on OGP. Many of our decisions are implemented within the framework of presidential decrees," the minister noted.

In the opinion of the president of the National Strategy Institute Stanislav Belkovsky, the activity of Open Government Partnership cannot gain direct access to politics or the economy; therefore it makes no sense to join.

"There is no international open government. It's a PR project. Influential persons in Russia increasingly often arrive at the conclusion that ritual dancing under PR slogans are not that productive. Everything connected to open government is nothing other but ritual dances. That is, it offers no real mechanism to influence the decisions of the executive or legislative branches of power," the political scientist said.

Member of the expert council under the government, head of the Public Opinion foundation Alexander Oslon disagrees with this view. He believes nobody intends to give up the open government system. It is about a change of the opinion regarding the adaptation of international experience, he said.














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