Regulation of lobbying

General

Is lobbying self-regulated by the industry, or is it regulated by the government, legislature or an independent regulator? What are the regulator’s powers?

There is no specific regulation of lobbying in Russia. There were repeated attempts to introduce it after the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Thus, at different times, the State Duma considered at least three draft laws on the regulation of lobbying. Initiators of the draft laws were usually State Duma members from oppositional factions who did not have any significant political weight.

As mentioned in question 1, the Constitution formally provides citizens with the right of association to protect their interests, and guarantees freedom of activity of these associations. Thus, public associations - social organisations in particular - are the main bodies that will promote public interests. In practice, the most active lobbyists are industry and business associations (the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Business Russia, the Russian Grain Union and many others).

The regulator of public organisations is the Ministry of Justice. Public organisations are registered through the Ministry of Justice, which also maintains the register of public organisations.

In addition to public organisations voluntarily established by citizens, the law provides for the existence of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) and the Public Chamber.

The CCI initially aimed to represent the interests of its members in state authorities. The Public Chamber is composed of the representatives of civil society, the scientific and expert community, business representatives, etc. It has the right to carry out examinations of draft laws, draft SLAs, etc, and to send its members and representatives to participate in the meetings of committees and commissions of the Federal Assembly.

The CCI and the Public Chamber have a low status and limited influence.

Definition

Is there a definition or other guidance as to what constitutes lobbying?

There is no formal definition of lobbying in the federal laws of Russia. However, a definition is enshrined in the Law on Lawmaking and Statutory Legal Acts of Krasnodar Krai.

Legislators of the region define lobbying as ‘activities of designated persons on information interaction with the lawmaking body of the region for the purpose of expressing the interests of the relevant organisations in the regional lawmaking’.

Consolidation of this concept in regional legislation is unusual and is an exception for Russia.

In general, the topic of developing the law on lobbying and regulation of lobbying activities does not attract the attention of the relevant stakeholders (government agencies, large businesses, etc) and consequently has not led to the introduction of regulation in this sphere.

Registration and other disclosure

Is there voluntary or mandatory registration of lobbyists? How else is lobbying disclosed?

There is no registration of lobbyists in the absence of regulation of lobbying activities.

Nevertheless, voluntary registration of public organisations with the Ministry of Justice is possible. Registration is required for an organisation to obtain legal capacity (ie, to receive all rights and benefits provided for by the Federal Law on Public Associations).

Registered organisations must:

  • publish an annual report on the use of their property;
  • inform responsible authorities about the continuation of their activities;
  • inform responsible state authorities about the amount of money and other property received from foreign sources, and what the funds will be used for;
  • maintain accounting and statistical reporting; and
  • provide information about their activities to the responsible authorities.
Activities subject to disclosure or registration

What communications must be disclosed or registered?

Public organisations are not required to disclose information about interactions with representatives of authorities, the business community, civil society, etc.

In 2014, the Ministry of Economic Development prepared a draft law whereunder state and municipal employees holding positions in the senior management category or generally at a senior level were required to submit information on a monthly basis about their participation in meetings with representatives of public associations, the business community and non-profit organisations.

However, the draft law establishes the meetings for which certain information does not have to be divulged: in the framework of public services provision and state control; in the framework of coordinating, advisory, expert, working and other consultative bodies; press conferences, etc.

The draft law was subject to public discussion in late 2014 and was submitted to the government for review in November 2015 but has not been brought before the State Duma since then.

Entities and persons subject to lobbying rules

Which entities and persons are caught by the disclosure rules?

Not applicable.

Lobbyist details

What information must be registered or otherwise disclosed regarding lobbyists and the entities and persons they act for ? Who has responsibility for registering the information?

There is no applicable law on this issue.

The draft law of the Ministry of Economic Development (see question 9) proposes introducing amendments to the procedure of citizens’ enquiries to state authorities.

Citizens are required, during a personal appointment with a public officer, to produce an identity document and to provide information about whose interests the citizen is representing. This information must be recorded in a specific card designed for this purpose.

Content of reports

When must reports on lobbying activities be submitted , and what must they include?

Not applicable.

Financing of the registration regime

How is the registration system funded?

No system of lobbyists’ registration exists in the absence of regulation.

Public associations are registered by the Ministry of Justice. Registration is financed by the federal budget. Legal entities and entrepreneurs are registered by the Federal Tax Service, which is also financed by the federal budget.

No separate system for physical persons’ registration exists.

Public access to lobbying registers and reports

Is access to registry information and to reports available to the public?

There are no official registers of lobbyists. However, the draft law of the Ministry of Economic Development proposes that information about the meetings should be published on the internet on a monthly basis.

The Ministry of Justice maintains the register of public associations that can be accessed online. Public organisations must also regularly publish the reports about their activities online, which are usually of a general nature and do not only relate to the issues of interaction with state authorities.

Code of conduct

Is there a code of conduct that applies to lobbyists and their practice?

There is no code of conduct enshrined in law; however, various public organisations have the right to adopt this type of document. Voluntary compliance with the code of conduct is independently regulated by each public organisation.

In addition, major companies (mostly foreign) have codes of conduct that take into consideration anti-corruption laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act in terms of interaction with state authorities and public officers. These codes are usually mandatory for employees and are applicable to the companies’ business partners.

Media

Are there restrictions in broadcast and press regulation that limit commercial interests’ ability to use the media to influence public policy outcomes?

There is no legislation restricting the use of the media by lobbyists to influence stakeholders and public policy outcomes. However, the executive branch sends businesses clear messages that using the media is counterproductive, though businesses still try to publicise and promote their interests through media channels, despite the media having a limited impact on stakeholders.

The media has a limited impact on stakeholders. As a rule, the media becomes involved regarding initiatives that will have an impact on the public.

In addition, the state perceives attempts to use the media and other channels to influence public policy negatively, especially if these attempts look like interference in political processes.

For instance, in 2014 a law was passed limiting the proportion of shares owned by foreign shareholders in the Russian media to 20 per cent and prohibiting foreigners from establishing media companies in the country. In November 2017, a law was passed introducing foreign agent status for media outlets that receive foreign financing (see question 17).