Quick Look seeks to empower citizens by helping them collectively send petitions and inquiries to government bodies.

Beginning Date: 
September 1, 2008
How many unique hits per month?: 
Project Scale: 

Context is a privately funded online initiative that seeks to empower citizens to promote change by discussing, voting for and sending petitions and inquiries to government bodies.

In Russia, there are laws that oblige authorities to respond to citizens’ petitions and inquiries, but these aren’t widely or consistently enforced. In that context, works as a legal popularity contest. Users add initiatives such as a petition, a plea or an official inquiry, which others comment, propose amends to and finally vote for.

The petitions that receive the most votes are then checked by Democrator’s lawyers and sent to the appropriate authority., together with the initiator of the petition, publishes all the documentation related to the exchange between the initiator and the respective authority, making the cases public and providing full access to the documentation.


Tell me a little about your project.: 

My name is Andrei Bogdanov, and I am the executive director of is a system that allows users — including both individuals and NGOs — to publish reports about certain problems they face, to unite around a solution of these problems, and to write collective claims to the authorities. The transparency we’re trying to achieve aims to make the whole process more efficient.

Initially, we were planning a simpler project. The aims were to make the decision-making process more transparent and to bring closer the citizens and the authorities. But as we developed the core engine we realized that we can’t be online only.

Our company was registered in 2008, but the first release was only in February 2010. At the moment, only 70 percent of the things we wanted to do are ready. As you can see, the users first publish a problem, and then the collective petition is prepared.

Right now, the problem is that the users can’t make the collective petition by themselves — our lawyers have to help them. Of course, it raises the legal quality of petitions, but at the same time it lowers the capacity of the website to process the public petitions.

Soon, the users will be able to make and edit the collective petitions by themselves. So, for example, there will be one moderator (the initial author of the petition) who will monitor the submission of the petitions and a number of people who will be able to edit the text (for instance, everyone who voted for it at the website).

What's your vision for the project?: 

Our idea is that publicizing the user’s claims makes authorities more accountable. If a public officer knows that his reply to a public claim will be published on, it stimulates him/her to solve the constituent’s problem more efficiently. We think that’s important.

Another feature of our project is that we allow people to evaluate authorities’ replies and say if they’re satisfied or not.

In the long run we would like to make a portal that people trust and respect, and where they can help each other to solve problems. Another aim we want to achieve is that every official would have his/her account at

How does your work currently turn into offline change? : 

We have a number of success stories. For example, there’s issue number 1449 [RU]. This involves a newly built neighborhood that is separated from the nearest metro station by a railroad. The inhabitants of the neighborhood asked the authorities to build a bridge for pedestrians over the railway to shorten the time from houses to the metro station. Originally, the inhabitants wrote and addressed the petition to the Russian Railroads. prepared a similar petition and addressed it to city authorities. After the document was processed, the building of the passage was approved by the authorities and the passage was included in the plan for infrastructure development of the city.

Another example is issue number 1906 [RU]. This report was a call for help by a disabled person. According to the law, the government is supposed to help disabled people go to a sanatorium every summer. This year this person received a travel voucher to go to a facility that didn’t completely address his needs. So he asked the authorities to intervene and give him a travel voucher for the place where he initially was supposed to go. Authorities responded to this call for help right after the online petition was published, even before we passed the paper document to the Belgorod regional authorities.

What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

There are certain legal obstacles. Mainly, the problem is with the law “On processing citizens’ addresses,” which prevents citizens from petitioning politicians via phone or electronically. In 2011, this law will be changed in order to be more logical and to allow contact via e-mail. We’re going to propose our own amendments, the most important of which is the ability of the authorities to receive collective addresses from citizens.

Unfortunately, not all government officials have an interest in responding to public petitions. We’re negotiating with the Moscow city and Moscow region offices, but of course there are certain government institutions that are not interested in transparency or in processing public petitions. I don’t want to call out the worst examples, but there are still cases in which certain institutions deliberately change or alter their contact details in order to completely restrict communication with the citizens. You can take a look at the ratings on our site and check out which institutions are the best and worst.

Why do people use your tool?: 

First of all, our project helps to unite people. Second, because it increases transparency. And third, because we have a really good legal service and we really try to help people.

What is your civic role?: 

We clearly understand that the efficiency of our projects and their integration depends on the government institutions and its readiness to accept the level of transparency and accountability we’re offering.

What is your relationship with the private sector?: 

Private business funds our project. Our investor — Arkadiy Paylov, a real estate businessman in Moscow — isn’t involved in politics. The project is not a corporate responsibility project, just a private project. The project is quite popular, so it seems that the relationship works well.

Has your work been replicated?: 

There are no full analogues to our project. The petitions and civil action websites are common, but publishing all the correspondence with the authorities online is our original idea.

Is your work a replication of another project?: 

No, but I think such projects will inevitably emerge in Russia.

What transparency/accountability organizations do you work with?: 

We’re happy to receive any kind of cooperation. We’re looking forward to more contact with political parties and NGOs.


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