In 2006, Yury Skobin, a Russian citizen, filed a claim asking the court to compel the Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology to publish on its official website the texts of national consumer product standards and all-Russian classifiers. These are normative-technical documents containing technical requirements for consumer goods, services, and production. Compliance with the standards is obligatory for manufacturers, and the information is important for both producers and consumers.
According to Article 3 of Government Decree No. 594 of 25 September 2003 on Publishing of the National Standards and Russian Classifiers of Techno-Economic and Social Information which was in force at the time, the responsible agency must publish texts of national standards and all-Russian classifiers on its official website. The Agency, however, only provided hard copies of the documents for which it charged large fees, reaching several thousands of roubles depending on the number of pages. The Agency explained in court that (1) it provided access to this information by other means - in reading halls, specialized regional shops and internet shops; and (2) free access to information does not always mean access free of charge.
The Court rejected the Agency’s grounds for charging fees for hard copies noting that Government Decree No 594 does not expressly state that fees may be charged for accessing the documents.
Judgment of the Court.