CIVICUS Civil Society Index

An international action-research project by and for civil society

Civil Society in Modernising Russia

Posted by civilsocietyindex on March 30, 2011

The CIVICUS CSI is pleased to announce the publication of the Analytical Country Report from Russia. The CSI was implemented in Russia by the Centre for Studies of Civil Society and the Non-Profit Sector (CSCSNS) of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow.

The significant economic, social and political changes of last 20 years have essentially transformed Russian civil society. Despite this, civil society had not still benefited from an adequate conceptual definition and description or a nuanced assessment of its status.

The diamond shows a relatively high score for the level of organisation of civil society. This proves that it is relatively institutionalised and stable, offering civil society a reasonable platform in which to do its work. However, the research also tells us that CSOs do not achieve a high degree of impact or significantly contribute to socio-political change in Russia, not least because of the lack of systematic interaction with authorities. This report therefore recommends that state authorities expand their interaction with CSOs and legislate to improve civil society’s environment.

The research tells us that participation in civil society activities is not a typical behavioural practice for citizens of Russia. Civic participation in Russia is limited and there are low levels of trust in CSOs. Therefore strengthening this sphere is recommended, through the use of modern methods of encouraging participation, promoting civil society work more widely, and raising awareness of the best practices of CSO activity. Civil society in Russia is also found not to be a reliable conductor by which society’s issues reach the elite and elite decisions find a way to feedback to society. It is recommended that this problem be addressed by an expansion of civil society interaction with authorities.

What is more, there is a necessity to promote and broaden the active work of CSOs and citizen participation by using modern methods of promoting participation, publicising civil society work and drawing attention to the best practices of CSO activity. Doing so will help to widen and broaden trust in CSOs.

The CSI project has offered a complex assessment of the state of Russian civil society for international comparison. The draft of this report has already been used as material for the organisation of public and expert discussions on the state of civil society. The provision of objective information on this sphere of Russia should promote keen interest in and increased knowledge about recent developments in Russian civil society, both amongst civil society activists and other stakeholders domestically and internationally. The distribution of this report will, we hope, provoke discussion about and greater public attention to the state of Russian civil society and civic activity.

To read the full report, click here

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