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Free software given priority in Russian bill

coat_of_arms_of_the_russian_federationRussia’s legislators have drafted a bill (PDF – in Russian) that will boost free software on many levels within the country’s public sector.

The draft, approved by the Duma (lower house of parliament) in mid-October, requires the public sector to prioritise free software over proprietary alternatives, gives priority to local IT businesses offering free software for public tenders and recognises the need to encourage collaboration with the global network of free software organisations and communities.

The text enforces free software’s precedence over proprietary alternatives by requiring public administrations to provide formal justification for any proprietary software purchase. Purchases will be considered unjustified if there is a free software solution that meets the technical specifications and standards. In addition, all public sector IT purchase agreements must be registered with a dedicated registrar, detailing the volume and price of both proprietary and free software purchased.

IT companies that distribute and provide free software products and services will by default receive
bonus points in public tenders in order to encourage local businesses, since legislators intend to
reduce public sector dependency on foreign proprietary software providers.