Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed the federal government agencies to switch to free and open source software by 2015. He signed a plan "for the transition of federal executive bodies and agencies to free software" on 17 December.
The transition will start this year with a federal support centre. After the summer the first collection of free and open source software applications will be used on servers and on desktop systems. First to start using this will be the ministry of Communications. Other federal government institutes are invited to participate in this first phase.
Half a year later, the plan foresees a repository for free and open source applications used by federal public administrations.
According to Putin's executive order all federal institutions will start using free and open source software in late 2014. In the third quarter, data from the "previously used IT systems will be transferred".
Evgeny Morozov, a Russian scholar, writes in the Wall Street Journal that saving on fees for proprietary software is only one of the motives. "Mr. Putin's motives are not strictly economic. In all likelihood, his real fear is that Russia's growing dependence on proprietary software, especially programs sold by foreign vendors, has immense implications for the country's national security."
Other sources point out that, several months earlier, figures close to the prime minister started investing in open source companies. According to a report by Cnews, Former Communications minister Leonid Reiman is one of the Russian businessmen that, through the NGI investment fund, last summer acquired a stake in the French Linux-services provider Mandriva.
Around the same time, Russian Technologies, a state holding company led by Chemezov Sergey, acquired a major stake in AltLinux, one of the largest Russian providers of open source IT services. The Russian daily Kommersant, quoted a representative of Russian Technologies, who explained that the company intends to develop AltLinux's existing projects in education and in electronic government.
Transition plan (in Russian)
Cnews news item (in Russian)
Kommersant news item (in Russian)