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Russia restricts information availability to public

Information that is considered non-public includes protected state secrets.

Updated: May 30, 2010, 12:07 PM IST

Moscow: Russia has restricted the availability of information on activities of the country`s judiciary to the common people.

The presidium of the country`s panel of judges has issued regulations under which courts will be guided as to when information on certain cases is published on the Internet.

Under the new rules, information on cases involving state security, family law and limited legal capacity shall not be published on the Internet.

Information that is considered non-public also include protected state secrets, plots, tax evasion and fraud schemes, and methods for producing drugs or weapons, so that the information cannot be used by other people.

Officials have said not only names should be "blacked out" when a court ruling is made public but also all personal information such as date and place of birth, place of residence, national insurance number, information on any vehicles, and location of a crime should not be released.

A presiding judge can also classify information about pending cases, including identity of judges assigned to them. It is also possible to classify an order on trial appointments. The full text of a court act may be replaced with a brief announcement of a decision if it is private in nature, the new rules say.

The decision has led to criticism from the Russian media, which say the exemptions will turn all data into nothing meaningful.

"The database of rulings from general jurisdiction courts would be turned into a pile of rubbish by such extensive exemptions," said court reporters guild head Leonid Nikitinsky.

The only glint of hope was that the regulations, which come into effect on July 01, are temporary, he said.