Civil Society and Accountability in Russia

Alejandro Litovsky, a senior advisor at AccountAbility, has an interesting column running on OpenDemocracy that argues the importance of civil society’s role in building accountability mechanisms for Russia’s government and private sector to heal the EU-Russia divide.

Rassian Blog


A lesson from Moscow The report demonstrates that more collaborative forms of governance are possible between policy-makers, energy companies and civil-society activists when there are processes in place to realise mutual interests, roles and responsibilities. This was a conclusion of a two-day dialogue organised in Moscow by AccountAbility in partnership with the Russian electricity sector holding RAO-UES, the United Metallurgical Company, BP Russia, the World Bank and a consortium of Russian environmental and social NGOs. Behind Russia’s international bullying lies the shadow of a domestic energy crisis, dominated by under-investment in infrastructure, heavily subsidised energy prices and a pervasive energy inefficiency across all sectors of the economy. This delicate balance is financed with the revenues of energy exports to the EU. Russian businesses and NGOs, producers and consumers, share a concern and are seeking to find ways to work together effectively. How to direct international finance to the Russian energy sector is key. International financial institutions demand accountability, such as stable legal frameworks, in order to invest in long-term projects. The revamp of the electricity sector is one example. Half of Moscow has no energy-metering; energy consumption is set on an unsustainable path and even an energy giant like Gazprom will find it difficult to meet a growing demand at such subsidised prices. The AccountAbility dialogue in Moscow showed that traditional forms of accountability are unfit for the new challenges of development. We learned how the “effective” accountability mechanisms of the Moscow city government – which are vertical, complex bureaucratic procedures – did not equip public servants with the incentives or the skills to work together with the Russian NGOs and their energy-efficiency proposals, even though they agreed with them.

Complete article here.