was from 1.7 to 4.5 percent. In 1999, the environmental fund was 1 percent, and the territorial raw mineral resources restoration fund 10 percent.
On the one hand, low payments have been coupled with wasteful and irrational utilization of natural resources as well as with environmental pollution. On the other, financial assets for protection and restoration of natural resources are not available.
A hard look at the legislation currently in force shows that citizen and NGO rights are limited to participation in discussions only by invitation from officials. Decisions are made by government bodies alone. It is extremely difficult for citizens and small-scale NGOs to gain recognition from the officials responsible for decision-making and to derive benefit from the discussions.
Thus, two key issues to be addressed by NGOs as well as by government are:
Access to information
Possibility of participating in decision-making process.
How are the issues solved in Tomsk Oblast?
The law “On Protection of the Environment” (Articles 6–10) prescribes that bodies responsible for environmental protection should provide citizens and the general public with necessary environmental information as well as render assistance to citizens and public organizations in understanding such information.
Goskomekologia (now the Ministry of Natural Resources) is responsible for coordination and protection of the natural environment, as well as for notification of the public of its condition. To meet these responsibilities, Goskomekologia of Tomsk Oblast had developed its own regional Public Environmental Information System.
Outcomes of sociological polls carried out in Russia and in the oblast from 1995–1998 were used as a basis for setting up the system. We have managed to clarify environmental problems that concern the local population and sources of environmental information about them. We have promoted a monthly regional radio broadcasting program and set up a newspaper, The Green Meridian. Also, regional TV, information bulletins, round tables, and briefings are being used. A public environmental inquiry office has been established.
Such activity as “Department Days” (in our case, the Department of Natural Resources and Oil-and-Gas Complex of Tomsk Oblast) is also used. During these days, representatives of the local administration visit different districts and