Problems of ethics committees in post-communist Russia are briefly discussed. The first ethics committees were established in 1980s upon the initiative of international pharmaceutical companies involved in clinical trials. Generally, such committees exist at hospitals conducting these trials and at research institutions dealing with human experimentation. They are bureaucratic structures heavily dependent on hospital or institution administration. Publication of research results in international periodicals is the main reason for their existence. An officially recognized National Ethics Committee is non-existent although there are several competing ethics committees at a national level (at the Ministry of Health, Academy of Sciences, Academy of Medical Sciences, Russian Medical association etc.). There is no federal legislation on the structure and status of ethics committees.