Russian law enforcement agencies will have unfettered powers to open people’s mail. Under a decree of the Minister of Communications, seven agencies, –including the police, FSB, customs, and foreign intelligence,– will have unlimited access to people’s letters, parcels, transfers, and other items. Postal service operators will have to ensure physical access to the agencies.
There is no mention of the need for a court order for state officials to open people’s mail. The Russian constitution guarantees the secrecy of communications, which can only be revoked by a court. Human rights activists say the decree is a step towards totalitarianism, and intend to ask the Supreme Court to declare the decree null and void. The new powers will come into force as of 21 July 2009.