THE men who attacked Ivan Y. Pavlov waited beside his car outside his home.My favorite quote:
They knocked him over from behind, stomped him and kicked him in the head. None of them spoke. They stole nothing. As Mr. Pavlov lay curled defensively on the street, they trotted away. Then they tried to run him over with their car.
Mr. Pavlov rolled clear, he said. The car sped off. “It was my good luck that there were four of them,” he said recently, recalling the attack in 2006 with a mix of drollness and lawyerly precision. “They were pushing each other out of the way to kick me and got in each other’s way.”
Mr. Pavlov was hospitalized for a week. The police later told him the attack appeared to be related to his work — a mission to pry open stores of government information that he says are essential to Russian public life and that by law should be in the public domain, but are kept from view by corruption and apathy.
The battle for personal and political freedom in Russia is often framed as a contest between the Kremlin and its critics over the rights of assembly, speech and suffrage, and for an independent judiciary, legislature and media.
Mr. Pavlov leads a quieter but still dangerous campaign: legal battles for what he calls, simply, “the right to know.”
As the director of the Institute for Information Freedom Development, a private organization he founded in 2004, he strives to teach government agencies that stores of information in their possession — manufacturing and sanitary standards, court records, licenses, fire codes, public tenders, administrative decrees, agency phone directories, registries of public and private organizations — should be made available for all to view.
HIS work is necessary, he and his supporters say, because much of the basic information of governance in Russia has never been made public, even after the Constitution codified the public’s right to nonsecret information in 1993.
“Nobody defended the basic right — the right to know, to have access to information,” he said. “People cannot have their freedom, and realize all their other rights, without this right.”