The first All-Russia Civil Congress “Democratic Russia Against Dictatorship” took place on December 12 2004 in Moscow. The idea for the creation of the Congress came from the coalition of public organizations “The Right to Choose” (INDEM Foundation, The Center for Anticorruption Initiatives and Research, Transparency International, Association of Non-Profits “Defense of Voter’s Rights “GOLOS,” The Center for the Study of Contemporary Politics, Committee “2009: Free Elections,” Moscow Helsinki Group, and The Russian Union of Journalists).

Discussions at the Congress raised the main issues of concern to civil society: corruption; terrorism; free and fair elections, media censorship, the development of civic organizations; creation of citizens’ government watchdog groups.

The thousand participants of the congress, which included representatives of public organizations, political parties, mass media, professional associations, and business, agreed to coordinate their efforts in the following areas:

· Supporting free and fair elections;

· Creating joint programs to protect citizens’ rights, the constitution and democracy in Russia;

· Countering backtracking in freedom and democracy;

· Organizing referendums directed at protecting and fostering a firm constitutional basis for government in Russia.