Russia lags behind on the development of civil society
At the eleventh international conference on issues related to societal and economic development Irina Mersiyanova, director of the Centre for Research into Civil Society and the Not-For–Profit Sector in the School of Advanced Economics at the State University, spoke to a report entitled ‘Russian Civil Society Viewed from an International Perspective’
She presented the results of comparative research carried out in different countries in the course of a joint project by her centre and the Centre for Research into Civil Society of the Johns Hopkins University in the USA. Ms Mersiyanova pointed out that the research assessed the degree of development of civil society only in regard to the state of the non-commercial sector. She added that at the present time only 136,000 NGOs were functional in Russia. In terms of the size of the third sector Russia occupied the last place amongst the countries where the research was carried out. However, in many countries the non-commercial sector performs functions that in Russia fall within the province of governmental bodies.
In Russia the percentage of paid workers in the third sector amounts to 0.92 % of the economically active population. In terms of a working day the level of activity equates to 0.78% of that of the total economically active population. Russia also comes bottom by reference to this indicator, said Ms Mersiyanova. The same applies to the situation regarding the low number of volunteers, coming out at only 3%. Of all those engaged in the non-commercial sector 36% are volunteers. In Romania the figure is 57% and in Poland and Hungary somewhat less. If the work of the volunteers were to be rewarded on the same basis as that of the paid staff of NGOs the cost would exceed 16 billion roubles. The contribution made by governmental bodies including presidential grants amounts to 15% of the total budget of Russian NGOs. This indicator leaves Russia lagging behind even the former socialist republics. According to the first vice-principal at the school of advanced economics nearly 89% of Russians consider that the authorities do not understand their own citizens and do not take their interests into account. He said that half of those surveyed think that they might be able to influence the situation in their town or locality but not really in the country or the world at large.