In 2000, legislation on culture was defined as a separate legal branch. Nevertheless, it was widely debated whether the overall legal system should be based on general laws (namely Land, Labour, Taxation, Customs Codes, etc.) or sector specific legislation, such as the cultural sector. The former approach now prevails, with provisions for future amendments. Thus, a number of general regulations and laws (which mention “particularities” regarding artists’ legal status) established the legal and normative basis for the entire cultural field. In the 1990s, international conventions were adopted and other regulations filled in the blind spots and improved the federal legislation. Division of jurisdiction produces a two level regulation system for the cultural sector, in which federal legal statements can serve as a framework or be interpreted as recommendations.
The Ministry of Culture has the competence to draft related laws; it also produces secondary legislation and plans to introduce a system of cultural standards. Since the 1990s, all the members of the Russian Federation develop their own cultural legislation as well, which sometimes differs from federal legislation. This situation produces a problem of harmonisation with federal laws and of developing regional legislation on culture with priorities given to local issues. All this results in an uneven cultural situation within territories (correlating to differences in economic development). Implementation practices remain poor in general and criticism of good laws and bad juridical practices is common.
At the federal level, most legal acts were adopted in the 1990s and became inconsistent with the fast pace at which Russia’s society is changing. The second reason for legal improvements was the general administrative reform, which is why discussion of new laws and novellas (new legal statements) became routine. For example, the Basic Law of the Russian Federation on Culture (1992) was produced as a sort of “cultural constitution” on human and cultural rights and liberties, and the rights of ethnic groups and minorities in the cultural sphere. It determines the state’s responsibilities with regard to culture and arts and sets out cultural policy principles. By 2012, out of its 62 Articles, 24 were improved and 9 revoked. In 2013, the Law was amended by the special article on the annual State Report on the State of Culture in the Russian Federation to be submitted by the Russian Government to the Federal Assembly and for public discussion. The Report is to present objective, accurate, analytical information on culture and main trends of its development.
In 2010, a draft version of the new Law on Culture in the Russian Federation was elaborated to introduce i.a. a new and wider understanding of culture, which was close to that use by UNESCO. Public and parliamentary debates on the draft have demonstrated that the “sectorial” understanding of culture remains; the draft was laid aside though a need for the new law on culture is acknowledged.
The juridical status of cultural institutions evolves towards “desetatisation” while diversifying organisational forms in the cultural sector is seen within its strategic development. In 2006, the Law on Autonomous Organisations was adopted within the budget restructuring process to stimulate cultural institutions leaving the “state harbour”. The Law on the Introduction of Improvements into Particular Legal Acts of the Russian Federation to Advance the Legal Status of State (Municipal) Institutions (2010) has the same goal and presupposes division of cultural institutions into fiscal and budgetary institutions, the latter having wider financial self-governance. Special stimuli were also introduced by the Law on the Introduction of Improvements into Particular Legal Acts of the Russian Federation on the Support of Socially Oriented Non-Commercial Organisations (2010). The Law on Formation and Use of Endowments by Non-Commercial Organisations, accepted in 2006, provided a legal basis for funding NGOs, however a real introduction of such new practices requires time.
In the early 2000s, efforts were made to produce a special legal framework for artists. A Law on Creative Workers in Literature and Arts and on their Creative Unions has twice passed through the Parliament and has been twice declined by the President, as it was perceived to provide privileges and exemptions from existing laws. The following three laws regulate the status of creative unions and other public organisations of artists based on their professional activities within the particular art sector:
- Law on Public Associations (1995);
- Law on Non-Commercial Organisations (1996); and
- Law on Professional Unions, their Rights and Guarantees for their Activities (1996).
In addition, there are acts of a more general character that have yet to be mentioned, e.g. the Law on Advertising (2006), which regulates the field more strictly, puts limitations on advertising in the mass media and particularly on TV. The Law forbids interrupting programmes for children, religious and educational translations for advertising and insists on the copyright holder’s consent on interrupting films or theatricals; it also limits the use of cultural institutions and heritage objects in advertising. In 2007, amendments to the Law lowered advertising time from 12 to 8 minutes per hour.