(Feb. 15, 2011) On February 9, 2011, the President of the Russian Federation signed a decree under which federal constitutional laws and federal laws that address major issues of the country's social and economic development may be brought before the public for discussion. The decree, which was published on the official website of the President, at http://www.kremlin.ru/acts/10288, does not require the initiation of public discussions on all such laws; it makes the submission of laws for public consideration up to the discretion of the bill drafters.
According to the decree, federal institutions involved in bill drafting may publish the bills, together with explanatory notes and budget justifications, on their websites or on separately established websites in order to solicit public, online comments or suggestions. Within three months after the end of the public discussion, the President of the Russian Federation will be informed of the results of the discussion and of relevant amendments made to the bill. The decree does not provide for any official response from the President on this report.
It appears that the decree formalizes the already established practice of Internet discussions on major legal acts. In 2010, the Police Law was offered for public consideration for the first time. This law will enter into force on March 1, 2011, although “no substantial innovations or changes to the bill were introduced when it was offered to the public for online review.” (Narod Popravit [People Will Correct] [editorial], GAZETA.RU (Feb. 10, 2011), http://www.gazeta.ru/comments/2011/02/10_e_3520038.shtml). Commentators believe that this measure may help to “involve citizens in the political process [by making them] more active and creating in them a feeling of responsibility for what is going on in the country,” but a similar practice was used by the Soviet Union authorities simply to mimic the democratic process. (Id.)