After the breakdown of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the Russian Federation has become the largest independent state among the member states of the former Soviet Union as well as among the members of the newly created Commonwealth of Independent States. Russia has inherited over 50% of the population and over 75% of the territory of the former USSR.
The election of the first Russian president and the suppression of the coup d'état in 1991 were factors which gave rise to the development of a modern political system. Further political developments have resulted in a series of political crises, of which the most powerful one occurred in October 1993, escalating into a sharp, almost armed conflict between the Parliament, on one side, and the President and the Government on the other side. The crisis was resolved through the dissolution of the Parliament. A new Parliament was elected in December 1993, along with the public adoption of the new Constitution (the previous one was adopted in 1977).
Today the political situation in Russia has become highly complicated. Numerous disagreements have arisen between the main political forces, frequently resulting in various kinds of political and organisational counteractions. The crisis in Chechnya has recently served as one of the major catalysts of social and political instability, although on the other hand it has considerably strengthened the positions of the conservatively-minded political wing. The contradictions are very likely to become even more pronounced as the country approaches its next parliamentary and presidential elections, taking place in 1995 and 1996 respectively.
Russia has been recognised by the global community as a country with an economy in transition. The country is in a stage of transition from a planned socialist economy to a Western-style market system. However, for many political, historical, economic, social and cultural reasons, the practical introduction of a market economy has been conducted very inconsistently, if not chaotically. Among the various consequences are the still unpredictable behaviour of the national currency and an overall decline of economic activity.
The gross domestic product has dropped by 25% for the period 1993-94 (GosComStat 1995). There has been a 50% drop in total industrial production between 1990 and 1995, with a 60% reduction in the petrochemical, pulp-and-paper, construction-material and food industries and machine building, and a more than 80% reduction in light industry (Finansovye Izvestiya 1995). The decrease of industrial production made up 32% in 1993-94. The corresponding drop in agricultural production equalled 13%.
The deficit of the consolidated federal budget in 1995 equalled 10% of the GDP (GosComStat 1995). The very complicated and inefficient taxation system is one of the main obstacles to an increase of budget revenues. The financial situation for the single enterprises is not better, being at its worst at still numerous state-owned enterprises (2).
The drop in production is naturally accompanied by a fall in living standards: in 1994 the income of almost 25% of the population was less than the estimated physiological minimum, and this number exceeded 30% at the beginning of 1995. Average wages in physical equivalent dropped by 33% in 1994 (Latsis 1995). With the current high mortality and low birth rate, depopulation goes on at an annual rate of 0.5-0.6% (GosComStat 1995). There has been a 25% growth in unemployment in 1994 (GosComStat 1995), and the rate is continuing to grow in 1995 (Savvateeva 1995). The current unemployment estimated using ILO methodology exceeds 5 million, which makes up 7.5% of the economically active population (Latsis 1995). Accompanying phenomena are growing social stratification and a corresponding increase of the income gap between the richest and the poorest.
At the same time, certain indications of financial and economic stabilisation have been reported in late 1994 and early 1995. The annual inflation in 1994 was only 315%, compared to 2,600% in 1992 (GosComStat 1995). The rate of industrial decline is steadily decreasing (Savvateeva 1995), and there are fairly favourable forecasts for a 1995 inflation rate of the order of 20-30% (Aslund 1995). In the first quarter of 1995 a stabilisation or even an increase of production has been observed in such sectors as the chemical and petrochemical industries, ferrous metallurgy, machine building, and the pulp-and-paper industry (Latsis 1995).
Foreign investors have shown considerable interest in large-scale projects in Russia, mainly in those related to mineral resources, transportation, and communications. The foreign investment portfolio made up US$ 200 million by May 1995 (McKay 1995). Russia is still one of the biggest industrial countries in the world in terms of net production (3). The rapidly growing private sector occupies a significant position in the fields of finance, trade and services. The federal programme of privatisation accounts for the growing share of private enterprises in all sectors of the economy (4).
Any longer-term economic predictions must take into account a substantial political component. The uncertainties are associated with the concrete ways of future political and economic development, and there is a fairly wide spectrum of possibly achievable alternatives (5). A significant uncertainty is also associated with the notable trend towards economic and political separation of certain territories from the federal centre. The process finds its legal support in the new Constitution, and is economically based on locally available resources and efficient enterprises. It is difficult to say at present how far this disintegration may go in practice (6).
Finally, with regard to any forecast, it is worthwhile to note that an important feature of the Russian political and administrative systems, which is not uncommon also outside Russia, is that the motivation for any kind of decision-making at almost any level is a complex mixture of official, personal, and economic interests, which always must be taken into account. Furthermore, not uncommon is that the special importance of personal factors is misunderstood or underestimated by analysts and newcomers to the Russian market.
Regardless of both an overall decrease of industrial production and the associated reduction of emissions into the environment, violations of air quality standards were reported in 208 cities and towns surveyed in 1994. Cases where concentrations were over 10 times higher than the air quality standards were reported in 83 cities. While there is an overall favourable trend in the national air quality over time, negative trends have been observed in some of the biggest cities. There has been 13% overall reduction of emissions into the atmosphere in 1994; however on the single-source level about 4,000 enterprises (25% of all enterprises for which emission estimates are available) further increased their emissions.
Negative trends have been reported for water quality. The number of water bodies with severe violations of water quality standards is gradually increasing. Contamination was detected in 1993 in approximately 5% of the ground-water supplies used by industrial and municipal systems. About 10% of ground-water intakes have reported exhaustion of water supplies. Approximately 20% of the drinking water samples taken in 1990-94 did not meet chemical safety criteria, and 11-13% of the samples showed microbiological problems. The level of pollution of the coastal seas is constantly high.
Over the last 25 years the total area of agricultural land has decreased by more than 30 million ha. Approximately 1.5 million ha of agricultural land were lost in 1994 alone. The reduction of soil fertility is related to a loss of soil humus at an annual rate of 600 kg/ha. More than
1.5 million ha of land were destroyed in 1970-91 in the course of geological exploration and mining. The area damaged by industrial and agricultural toxic pollution equalled 74 million ha in 1993. At the same time, the total area of protected land reached 27 million ha in 1993.
Over 300,000 ha of forests were destroyed in 1994, including 270,000 ha of forests lost due to fires. Desertification problems have been reported within 17 territories of Russia. During recent years the area of reindeer pastures has decreased by 15-20%. There are pronounced trends towards a decrease of wildlife habitats (especially in the European part of Russia) and a reduction of wildlife populations. Fish populations in inland and coastal waters have been seriously affected by wastewater discharges.
As a result of the Chernobyl accident, over 50,000 km2 of Russian territory (1.5% of the area of the European part of Russia) has been polluted with radionuclides, with radioactivity exceeding 1 Ci/km2. An area of 310 km2 in the Bryansk oblast is polluted with radioactivity with the 1993 level of up to 40 Ci/km2. Over 1,500 local patterns of radioactive pollution were detected in 53 of 98 cities surveyed in 1993. As a result of radioactive ore extraction and fuel preparation for nuclear power stations, 60,000 ha of land had been contaminated with radionuclides by 1993.
Approximately 1,500 million Ci of solid and liquid radioactive wastes are currently stored at radio-chemical plants. High-radiation solid wastes (13 million Ci) are stored at 24 dumping sites. Another 200 dumping sites contain 30,000 Ci of medium- and low-radiation liquid wastes. Radioactive wastes from military and naval installations continue to be a significant threat to the environment. About 80 billion tons of industrial wastes have so far been accumulated in Russia, 1.1 billion tons of this amount being toxic wastes. Over 120 million tons industrial toxic wastes were accumulated in 1994 alone.
Examples of more specific environmental problems present in Russia are the contamination of drinking water with dioxins, biological contamination and introduction of undesirable species, and electro-magnetic pollution. Industrial accidents are still a major problem; the recent oil and natural gas spills in the Komi Republic serve as examples.
Combinations of various environmental problems account for the unhealthy environment in many areas of Russia, including virtually all big cities and urban agglomerations, the European North of Russia, the catchment basins of the Baikal Lake and the Great European Lakes (the Ladoga and the Onega lakes), the Caspian and the Black seas, the Ural and Kuzbass regions, and numerous areas polluted as a result of the Chernobyl accident (Tab. 1) (8).
One of the main reasons for the dramatic decline in environmental quality is the utterly insufficient funding of environmental needs, and thus the inability to maintain and develop an efficient environmental infrastructure. Less than 1% of the federal budget was directly allocated for environmental purposes in 1994 and 1995. Also important is the fact that the external market situation stimulates the development of environmentally unhealthy industries in Russia, such as chemical and petrochemical industries, and ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy, which are now steadily being removed from the developed countries. In addition, for the time being, neither the politicians nor the public in the country are very much concerned about the state of the environment, although certain positive trends in public opinion have recently been noticed.
Another reason for environmental degradation is the inconsistency or misuse of environmental legislation, although its development has a rather long history. The first acts relevant to the protection of areas appeared in Russia during the 1880s in the form of hunting, land use and forestry regulations, followed by the first conservation measures in 1909. The first legislation of an environmental nature, however, was adopted as early as the 14th-17th centuries, when forests along the southern boundaries of the Russian state were granted special protection (WCMC 1991). Legislation on protected areas appeared in 1921 in the form of a decree of the Council of People's Commissioners entitled Protection of Natural Monuments, Gardens and Parks. In 1960 the law of the Russian Federation On Environmental Protection in the RSFSR was adopted, followed by a set of separate acts related to the protection of land (1968), public health (1965), waters (1972), mineral resources (1975), forests (1977), the atmosphere (1982), and wildlife (1982). These laws tended to be general and are often considered to have contained weak sanctions with regard to infringements and hence to have had little impact. However, they have played an important part in creating the foundation of the contemporary system of environmental legislation.
Currently, several hundred acts, presidential decrees, enactments of the government, ministries and sectoral agencies provide regulations in the field of environmental management (REFIA and MinPrirody 1995). The fundamental law On the Protection of the Natural Environment was enacted in 1991. The law was regarded as setting a foundation for more specialised environmental acts. However, the 1993 political crisis and the following adoption of the new Constitution have made the 1991 law partially inadequate with regard to the new conditions. Preparation of the new law On Protection of the Environment in the Russian Federation is currently being considered, whereas another alternative would be to update the 1991 law to meet the new requirements. For the time being, the 1991 law remains the main general environmental act in Russia.
Besides this fundamental law, a set of new specialised acts has recently been adopted, which comprises the laws On Mineral Wealth, On Sanitary-Epidemiological Public Well-Being, On Protected Areas, On Wildlife, as well as the Principles of Forest Legislation, the Land Code, and the Principles of Health Protection Legislation. Plans exist for the adoption of additional acts in the near future, including the Water Code, the law On Federal Natural Resources, and laws on wastes, protected ecosystems, environmental and radiation safety, drinking water, air protection, environmental insurance, payments for natural resources, environmental education, environmental management, and ecological security (Danilov-Danilyan 1995, Lemeshev 1994, Serov 1993, MinPrirody 1994d). Presidential decree No. 236 of 04.02.94 On the State Strategy of the Russian Federation for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development required the elaboration of the Governmental Environmental Action Plan for 1994-95, which was approved by the governmental edict of 18.05.94 No. 496. An action plan for 1996-97 is to be developed in the near future, along with the Concept of the Transition of Russia to the Model of Sustainable Development.
Chapters related to environmental problems are also present within acts which regulate the status of enterprises and business activities, consumer rights, local self-government, and taxation (Petrov 1995). Relevant chapters already exist in the current Criminal, Administrative and Civil Codes (Petrov 1995, Selivanov and Skoromnikov 1994), and up-to-date environment-oriented modifications are further being made to previously adopted and newly-drafted general legislation. The Russian Federation currently participates in 21 international treaties, agreements and conventions on environmental protection (Danilov-Danilyan 1995), and this number can be increased to over 70 if taking into account binational, regional, and international agreements which are indirectly related to the environment (IUCN 1993, Nikitina 1995). In addition, the territories of Russia can and do issue their own acts devoted to the environment and natural resources on the issues that fall under joint federal/territorial jurisdiction according to the Constitution.
Despite the considerable number of acts in force, the number of violations of environmental regulations remains very high. Possible reasons for this are the far from complete harmonisation of existing acts, and the lack of an efficient mechanism of law enforcement, including economic incentives. The complexity of the system of environmental responsibilities of the various state agencies further complicates the situation.
Up to the beginning of the 1970s, environmental management in the USSR, and hence in Russia, was performed primarily by sectoral agencies, each responsible for specific natural resources (e.g. waters, forests, land, minerals). Inter-sectoral monitoring was provided by the sanitary and hydrometeorological systems. In 1972 a decree was issued jointly by the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party and the Council of Ministers to strengthen environmental conservation and to improve the use of natural resources. Consequently the Parliament and the Government of the USSR were made formally responsible for developing strategies for environmental management, and environmental departments were established within the system of the State Planning Committee both at central and territorial levels. This gave rise to the development of a set of environmental action plans for the country as a whole and for the separate territories, aimed at both integrated and sector-oriented environmental management (MinPrirody 1994e, Mazurov 1994). The environmental protection planning was then formally incorporated into the USSR state planning system, and various environmental management functions were delegated to over 15 different agencies (9).
In 1988 the administrative structure was streamlined and simplified with the creation of the USSR State Committee for Environmental Protection, which was made responsible for co-ordinating environmental activities throughout the entire USSR. A corresponding branch in Russia was also established. In 1991 the latter became the Russian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources (10). The USSR ministry ceased to function in autumn 1991, having left its Russian counterpart as a separate and independent body, the present title of which is the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of the Russian Federation.
The present-day Russian system of environmental management incorporates elements of virtually all existing branches of power (Fig. 3) (11). The Inter-Agency Commission on Ecological Safety works under the Presidential Security Council to provide advice and consultations. Environmental legislation is prepared by the Committee for Ecology and the Committee for Natural Resources and Environmental Management of the lower house of the Parliament (the State Duma). The permanent Higher Ecological Council, consisting of distinguished experts in environmental sciences, has been formed under the auspices of the State Duma to provide advice. Co-ordination of the environmental activities of the various agencies is performed by the Governmental Commission for the Environment and Natural Resources (12).
According to current legislation, the Ministry of Environmental Protection plays a central co-ordinating role in the system of agencies involved in and responsible for solving particular environmental problems (13). Besides general co-ordination, the ministry performs management functions with regard to protected areas of federal importance, issues regulations on environmental protection and management and environmental permits, performs and co-ordinates environmental monitoring, and manages and disseminates environmental information. Besides the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the system of agencies with integrated environmental functions also includes:
The system of sectoral agencies, each responsible for specific natural resources, includes:
Agencies performing only limited but well-defined environmental functions over a wide range of activities are:
Integrated environment-related programmes are carried out by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Science. The Committee for Statistics is responsible for the nation-wide collection and aggregation of statistical information on sectoral, territorial and national levels. The State Automobile Inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs performs routine checks of automobile engine emissions. The ministry also participates in the safeguarding of protected areas and supports legislation enforcement. The Customs Committee bears responsibility for preventing the illegal export of natural heritage, including Red-Data-Book species, and the illegal import of environmentally dangerous products and goods. The Committee for Standardisation maintains the system of state standards and verifies their compliance with legislation, including that in the field of the environment. In addition it carries out, in co-operation with relevant agencies, a programme of environmental analytical laboratories certification.
Besides agencies with direct environmental responsibilities, many other ministries and departments perform certain limited environmental functions as part of their regular duties. The list includes the Ministry of Fuel and Energy, the Ministry of Nuclear Energy, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Public Health, the Committee for Defence Industry, the Committee for Machine Building, the Committee for Chemical and Petrochemical Industry, and the Committee for Metallurgy.
Independent supervision of compliance with the environmental legislation is officially performed by the Environmental Law Enforcement Department of the Office of the Prosecutor-General.
The structure of environmental management in the territories generally follows a similar pattern, since many of the enumerated agencies operate systems of their offices or departments on a sub-national level. Territorial bodies with environmental responsibilities are therefore involved in both vertical interactions with federal agencies and horizontal interactions with local authorities.
Since the collection, interpretation, analysis and distribution of information is an important part of the activities of many governmental and private agencies and institutions, certain attempts are being made towards nation-wide co-ordination and regulation of information resource management. A number of laws are currently being considered to establish a legal foundation for the national information policy and to provide legal tools for the implementation of the rights of citizens stated in the Constitution:
The fundamental federal information law On Information, Informatisation (14) and the Protection of Information was adopted in 1995 with the intention to regulate
"... the creation, collection, processing, accumulation, storage, search, dissemination and delivery to users of documented information" (1 (1)) (15).
The main guidelines of the state information policy, as formulated in the law (3 (2)), are:
The law also contains a number of statements that make up a breakthrough in the regulation of access to information, including information classified as "state information resources" which is produced on a state-funded basis (7) or supplied on an obligatory basis by citizens, authorities, organisations and public groups (8).
A number of articles define the conditions and rights of access to state information resources:
Article 24 defines the order of protection of the right of access to information:
The law requires that the registration, certification and licensing of information products and services should be made in accordance with current Russian legislation (e.g. the law On Certification of Products and Services). This idea has caused a lot of concern in the private sector (Andreeva 1994, Shestopal 1994), since in general this might lead to state monopolisation of information sources and activities, and can also in practice simplify the access of state agencies to confidential private and commercial information (16).
The copyright is protected in Russia by the laws On Copyright and Related Rights, On the Legal Protection of Computer Programs and Databases, and some other acts. Russia is also a member of the International Copyright Convention and the Berne Convention.
Restrictions on access to and/or dissemination of information are also regulated by the law On State Secrets, the governmental edict of 05.12.1991 No. 35 On the List of Types of Information that can not be Classified as Commercial Secrets, and a number of other acts (17).
The law On State Secrets, adopted in 1993, defines a state secret as
"...information protected by the state in the fields of its military, foreign policy, economic, intelligence, counter-intelligence, and criminal investigation activities, the dissemination whereof may result in damage to the security of the Russian Federation" (2).
The law determines the types of information that can be classified as state secrets, such as information on the national economy, research, or technology of great economic or military importance related to the provision of state security (5(2)).
Similarly defined is the range of types of information that can not be classified as state secrets, followed by the statement that
"Officials having made a decision to classify such information as a state secret... are subject to responsibility according to criminal, administrative or disciplinary regulations, depending upon the physical or moral damage caused to the society, state, or citizens. Citizens have the right to appeal against such actions in court" (7).
In addition, the law On Commercial Secrets is currently in preparation. Public hearings were held in October 1994 (Gerasimov 1994).
Although legally required, the access of citizens to information is still quite often considered by officials to be a less important problem compared to information exchange between agencies and authorities of various levels. This is also supported in practice by regulations and guidelines which govern the implementation of legislative acts and state policy. Regulations defining concrete mechanisms and procedures for the implementation of rights to information are still absent.
Other acts specifically devoted to information are the laws On the Legal Protection of Microcircuit Topologies, On the Provision of the Uniformity of Measurements, On the Responsibility for Violating the Order of Statistical Reporting, On the Obligatory Deposition of Documents' Copies, Principles of Legislation on Archive Fund and Archives. Among the acts in preparation are the federal laws On Information Support of Economic Development and Business, On Statistical Information, On Legal Information, On Research and Engineering Information, On Personal Data, On Participation in International Information Exchange and on Supervision over the Export of Information Products (Volokitin and Kopylov 1994). Underlying lower-level regulations are also under consideration. In addition to the acts already mentioned, information activities are regulated by selected chapters of other acts not directly devoted to information. These are other general laws, such as the laws On Security, On Citizenship, On Property, On Standardisation, On Certification, as well as acts devoted to the status and/or activities of certain state agencies involved in managing information resources (see also Section 3.4).
In spite of the introduction of an impressive number of acts, the practical treatment of conflicts related to information, as mentioned before, still lacks guidelines and corresponding experience. For instance, changes are yet to be made to the Civil, Administrative and Criminal Codes, which will define sanctions for infringement of information legislation.
The elaboration of information legislation is carried out and co-ordinated by the Committee on Information Policy and Communications of the State Duma. The protection of governmental and presidential information and communication systems as well as the collection and analysis of special information for top-level authorities are performed by the Agency for Governmental Communications. Decision-making at the presidential level is supported by a system of information services, including the Presidential Analytical Centres.
The State Technical Commission, with its 20-year experience of protecting state secrets from foreign intelligence services, has been charged with implementing the functions of an Inter-Agency Commission for the Protection of State Secrets as required by the law On State Secrets. The commission unites 19 principal agencies concerned with state secrets (Balyberdin 1994). Another body advising on the issues of state secrets is the Inter-Agency Commission on Informational Safety of the Presidential Security Council. It is responsible for elaborating the state policy in the field of information safety (Balyberdin 1994, Kurilo and Streltsov 1994).
The Inter-Agency Commission on Protection of Intellectual Property was formed in 1995 on the initiative of the Ministry of Science, the Ministry of Culture, the Committee for Patents and other agencies.
The Committee for Statistics bears the central responsibility for the nation-wide collection of socio-economic information and its regular delivery to authorities at all levels. Sectoral agencies manage their own information resources and perform information functions according to their mandates. Owing to the lack of federal co-ordination of information management, each agency basically follows its own sectoral information policy (Melyukhin 1993).
To create a central co-ordination mechanism, the Committee for Informatisation was established in 1993 and acquired a more solid status in 1994 (Agapov 1995a). Among its recent activities is the development of a concept for the federal programme Informatisation of Russia, aimed at the overall co-ordination and harmonisation of on-going activities as well as at providing the necessary financial, legal and organisational basis (Golubkov 1994, Kurnosov 1994) (18). Extensive collaboration between the committee and regional and international organisations such as UNESCO, the OECD and the CEC is under way (Korchagin and Fontanov 1994).
Registration of databases and the corresponding collection of metainformation are carried out by the Agency for Governmental Communications, the Agency for Legal Protection of Computer Programs, Databases, and Microcircuit Topologies attached to the Committee for Patents, and the InformRegister Centre attached to the Committee for Informatisation. The InformRegister Centre is the leading institution collecting metainformation about databases produced at state expense. The International Bureau for Information and Telecommunications is a private company primarily gathering information on private and/or commercially available databases. The Russian Chamber of Commerce collects and updates information about existing telecommunications.
Currently approximately 12,000 enterprises, of which 9,000 are state-owned, have formally declared that some of their activities are related to information systems and processes (Golubkov 1994). Over 400-500 new information centres of various kinds and purposes were established in 1989-91. Most of them now offer business information on a commercial basis, partly making use of data-sets initially created at major state-owned information institutions. At the same time in the state sector personnel involved in information support has decreased in the past few years by 50-70% (Antopolskiy and Nosikov 1995).
On the sub-national level information activities are partly co-ordinated by local authorities, who develop territorial information projects and establish systems for information analysis. By the beginning of 1994, local information systems and services had been established in most of the Russian territories (Melyukhin 1994b). A recent trend is that information centres are also created on the sub-territorial level -- down to districts, cities and towns (19). Over 20 agreements between the Committee for Informatisation and the territories have been signed to form a basis of information systems on the sub-national level (Golubkov 1994). About 30 centres are to be created under the federal programme Informatisation of Russia, and a pilot project has already been implemented (Kurnosov 1994).
Institutionally the status of territorial bodies of information analysis at present varies from small groups which support the needs of local authorities to large well-established organisations. It is not unlikely that this system in the future will in part withdraw certain functions from the presently operational local level of the State Committee for Statistics (Melyukhin 1994b).The current problems of the territorial analytical services are the absence of unified analytical methodologies, compatible technologies and telecommunications. Another observed problem is that the amount of interpreted information is relatively small compared to the amount of raw data which sometimes already overload decision-makers. Thus there is growing demand for qualified staff in the fields of sociological, economic and political analysis (Melyukhin 1994a).
A new development in the field of sub-national information systems is the concept of a Unified System of State Cadastres (Manoshkin 1995), which will contain information on various aspects of local development, including social and economic statistics, engineering infrastructure, housing, utilities, communications, natural resources and the environment (more about the latter components is presented in Section 3.2). Experiments in this direction are being carried out in Moscow as well as in the Nizhny Novgorod, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk and Tumen oblasts (Lisitsyn and Monastyrskaya 1994).
Besides centres attached to local authorities, other networks of information centres exist or are being created at the sub-national level, including the networks of the Russian Chamber of Commerce, the State Committee for Industrial Policy, and the Agency for Governmental Communications (Kedrovskiy 1994b).
Information resources in Russia are located within various state-funded information systems, research institutions and private companies. For the last 3 to 4 years the national information market has become relatively well developed. Digital information of nation-wide interest generated by many institutions can, with a very high degree of likelihood, be found in one of numerous information systems. Over 250 organisations specialise in information brokerage (Antopolskiy and Nosikov 1995).
Enormous amounts of information, however, are still stored on paper. The transfer of these data into digital form would require substantial time and labour input. The problems with regard to the production and publishing of paper information products are often associated with the insufficient capacities and quality standards of the paper industry and book publishing as well as with the weak enforcement of copyright law. The latter also refers to digital products (Andreeva 1995).
The number of Russian databases (20) may be as large as 25,000-30,000 by expert estimates. Of this number 75% are supposed to be held either in Moscow or in St. Petersburg The number of databases registered (partly on a self-reporting basis) by the InformRegister centre reached over 10,000 in 1994, with about 30% located in Moscow or in the Moscow Region (21). Only 16% of the known databases are remotely accessible. The largest proportion of existing databases contain data on business, science and engineering. Analysis of the current dynamics of subjects covered by databases discloses that the proportion of reference and legal databases has the highest growth rate, that databases on social studies and multiple subjects have a decreasing share, and that the proportion of databases on business, arts, natural sciences, engineering, and medicine remains constant. The total number of database holders is of the order of 10,000, 70% of which are state-owned enterprises.
The Russian authorities and state agencies are generally reluctant to purchase, use or finance databases produced in the private sector (Antopolskiy and Nosikov 1995). However, the redistribution of responsibilities for information product and services in favour of the private sector is officially recognised as one of the important goals of the national information policy (Golubkov 1994).
A frequent problem with existing digital databases is that many of them are available only in Russian, although 14 foreign languages are known to be used in various Russian databases and translation into European languages is under way for the most popular data-sets. The formats and classifications used often do not correspond to those internationally accepted (22). Quite often the overall quality of a product is simply insufficient to match the strict requirements of international users. This explains the relatively low level of international activity of the Russian database community. Nowadays national enterprises are losing control even over the internal market, as the most paying sectors of economy (e.g. banking and insurance) are becoming increasingly dominated by international competitors.
The total number of telecommunication systems (23) for data transfer in Russia approaches 250, with 50-60 systems actively operational. Among the leading Russian and joint companies operating telecommunications are RelCom, SPRINT, RosNet, Sovam-Teleport, IASNet, SITEC, RosPac, and InfoTel. There is strong competition between telecommunication operators. In 1994 the number of cities served by hosts of 5 or more different systems exceeded 50. The largest number of networks is represented in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk. The list of cities where the number of networks is smaller, but still exceeding 5-6, includes Archangel, Barnaul, Khabarovsk, Ekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Krasnodar, Perm, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, Tver, Tumen, Vladivostok, Volgograd, and Voronezh. The total number of network hosts exceeds 600 in more than 200 Russian cities and towns. This would be enough to connect over 10,000 organisations with 300,000 users, which could equal 10-20% of the computer users in the country (REFIA 1994). In Moscow telecommunications provide on-line access to at least 40 hosts holding over 600 databases. Altogether more than 200 hosts in Russia offer various database access services. Access to thousands of international databases is provided via connection to international networks, such as INTERNET, BITNET, EUNET, MCI-mail, CompuServ, NSFnet, DATEX-P, ADC, SPRINT-INT, AT&T, DATAPAC, and the GLASNET.
The principal problem for many interested users today is not physical access to telecommunications, but the data traffic and channel-rent fairs as well as the high cost of the required hardware and software. Another problem is that the quality of telecommunications on the local level is still unsatisfactory, so that these systems cannot always be reliably used for transferring important information. Besides, high enough transfer rates cannot be maintained at all times, so that the usual rate even in main lines is 2,400-9,600 bps (24). Inability to transfer data between different networks due to incompatibility of hardware and protocols is not uncommon.
In seeking for an alternative, growing attention has been paid to teletext technology, which has been in operation in Russia since 1993, and which is currently employed by a number of federal agencies as well as private companies. At present almost the whole territory of the country, as well as most countries of the CIS and Western Europe, parts of Canada, the USA and Australia, are accessible for teletext transmission from Moscow (Melyukhin et al. 1994).
The prospects of data distribution are also associated with the CD-ROM technology, which is a rapidly growing sector in Russia. Although the variety of CD-ROMs containing databases is still small (about 30 at the end of 1994), the sales data for CD-ROM drives suggest that the potential current capacity of the Russian market could be as high as 100,000 disks (Sedyakin 1994).
Metainformation remains one of the bottlenecks in obtaining data, although some metainformation and/or meta-knowledge products are available from specialised organisations (see above and Appendix 2) or, in some cases, from state agencies.
A limiting factor for many users is the cost of data, which can be high both at private companies and state-owned institutions. The high cost of data may in practice make it impossible to implement the open access to information required by law. It is also not uncommon that state institutions object to sharing their data or try to charge the users, even if free access to the data must be provided in theory. The evaluation of the cost of information is a very complicated and controversial issue, and so far it has found a more or less satisfactory solution only in the private sector, in the fields of financial, economic and legal information trade. The cost of data which are less attractive for private market players but are more socially significant involves the problem of trade-off between the cost of production and systems maintenance and the availability of information. Nonetheless, the absence of centralised financial support for information services make further introduction of market-oriented relations into information business, with all the related advantages and disadvantages, the most realistic prospect.
(2) Almost 40% of the GDP is still produced at state-owned enterprises (GosComStat 1995).
(3) For example, 317 million tons of crude oil, 607 billion m3 of natural gas, and 271 million tons of coal were extracted in 1994 (GosComStat 1995).
(4) There were over 1 million small businesses in Russia in 1994 (cf 40,000 in 1990) providing jobs for approximately 10 million employees.
(5) However, an experiment recently undertaken by leading US analysts to forecast the development of the Russian political system using the Factions methodology suggested that the country will inevitably move towards a mixed market economy with a strong state sector (Chugaev 1995). The same idea is shared in general by a number of other analysts (e.g. Financial Times 1995).
(6) The above-mentioned Factions experiment also suggested that although conflicts between the centre and territories are not unlikely, a unitarian model most probably will be the final one (Chugaev 1995).
(7) Most of the figures on the state of the Russian environment in this section have been taken from (MinPrirody 1994b, MinPrirody 1995a, Danilov-Danilyan 1995).
(8) For a more detailed treatment of environmental problems both in the USSR and in present-day Russia, see the publications listed in Appendix 3, as well as such overviews and collections as:
(9) Here we set aside the question of how effective and efficient this system was, since much has already been said about it in numerous publications (see footnote above).
(10) In the course of establishing the Russian ministry, an attempt was made to bring under its umbrella almost all relevant agencies. However, the attempt had little success.
(11) The description of the system of environmental management generally follows (Hefter 1994, Petrov 1995), as well as the corresponding Statutes devoted to single agencies.
(12) There are several other inter-agency commissions which wholly or in part work with environmental problems covering such issues as marine accidents, emergency response, sanitary problems and epidemics, the ozone layer, outer space, climate change, implementation of the UNCED resolutions, radioactive wastes, radiation monitoring, forest fires, flood control, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Baikal Lake, the Barents-Euroarctic region, the Arctic and the Antarctic (SB RF 1995, Hefter 1995, REFIA and MinPrirody 1995).
(13) The total staff of the Ministry of Environmental Protection with its local branches exceeded 30,000 in 1995, including more than 2,000 employees in research centres, institutes and commissions and 2,700 specialists in environmental quality inspectorates. Its Moscow staff in 1993 exceeded 600 (550 in 1995), while the Moscow personnel of five other environment-related agencies (Agency for Forestry, Committees for Water Resources, Land Resources, Fisheries and Geology) comprised then 1,250 employees altogether (Danilov-Danilyan 1995, MinPrirody 1995a, Tolkachev 1995, Zhagel 1994). The estimated 1995 budget of the ministry equalled to US$ 30 million (Tolkachev 1995).
(14) The term 'informatisation' is used in the text in an attempt to provide equivalent to the Russian term 'informatizatsiya' which is not formally defined in standard Russian and has only recently been introduced from technical literature. In general, the term refers to establishing, maintaining and improving the practices in the fields of production, storage, analysis and distribution of information, especially in digital form.
(15) The law is intended to serve as a basic act regulating processes related to products (analogue or digital) which contain data, rather than to the data themselves. The latter is regulated by the law On Copyright and Related Rights.
(16) According to the law, the certification of information systems and products is carried out on a voluntary basis. On the other hand, certification and licensing are required for handling confidential or personal data or for designing corresponding systems and frameworks. This may enable strong centralised control over such activities. The recent orders to license all information protection technology through the Agency for Governmental Communications show that such concerns may be well-founded.
(17) Altogether a few dozen regulations of various levels currently govern the protection of state secrets (Savin 1995).
(18) One problem with the nation-wide development of information processes, however, is related to the fact that the federal information policies tend to focus on technology rather than on the supporting of collection, interpretation and proper use of information. In other words, on the national level there is often a lack of balance between the technology framework and its content in favour of the former (Kedrovskiy 1994b).
(19) The second work meeting of local analytical centres in October 1994 brought together 150 participants from 71 territories and cities (Melyukhin 1994b).
(20) The overall status of Russian databases is presented primarily based on the national report Automated Information Resources: Status and Trends prepared in 1994 by the Committee for Informatisation, as summarised in (Antopolskiy and Nosikov 1995), and on data from (Andreeva 1994).
(21) However, it is likely that the institutions responsible for database registration are unable to get the appropriate information on many databases currently available in the territories, while local database holders do not hurry to register their products. On the other hand it is known that some of the registered databases have been declared only and do not constitute complete products.
(22) The Committee for Standardisation currently carries out a number of internationally-accredited certification programmes, some of which are related to information technology. Database and information product certification is under way and will be expanded (Efimov 1994).
(23) The sources for the data on telecommunication systems are (MBIT and TPP RF 1994, REFIA 1994).
(24) Estimates suggest that the cost of radical modernisation of the Russian telecommunications may approach US$ 15 million (Melyukhin et al. 1994).