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Members of the public and media have the right to attend meetings of “collegial” public bodies (as defined in Russia’s RTI law) as a way to access information about the activities of these bodies.
Andrey Voronin, a journalist, wished to attend an extended meeting of the Commission for Development of Built-Up Areas that decides on the construction of new buildings and the demolition of old ones in the Administration of the Kirovsky district of St.Petersburg. The meeting was adjourned to discuss details of a new development plan. The Administration’s press secretary denied him access to the meeting. Voronin challenged the denial in Court, relying on Article 15 of the RTI law which considers attendance of the meetings of collegial bodies as a way for the public to access information about the activities of government bodies.
The court fully satisfied Voronin’s claims, stating that prohibiting him from attending the meeting was unlawful. According to Article 47 of the Federal Law on Mass Media, a journalist has a right to seek, request, receive and impart information, and to visit state organs and organizations. Article 15 of the Federal Law on Providing Access to Information on the Activities of Government Bodies and Bodies of Local Self-Government provides that collegial bodies must provide a possibility for citizens to attend its meetings.
Note: This is the first case where a court applied Article 15 of the RTI law and declared unlawful a prohibition by a local government body for a citizen to attend a meeting of a collegial body.
Judgment of the Court.
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