As mentioned before the records of birth, marriage and death during Soviet times (from Dec 1917) were maintained by ZAGS.
But not many people know that today ZAGS offices have introduced new technologies and scanned the vital records into electronic databases. This program is already functioning in 39 Russian regions.
The program has many options but of the most importance to Russian ancestry researchers is an option of preparation of a genealogical family tree down to 1917. It will be done based on regional records in the database and is a paid service.
Obviously there are few issues with using these databases.
One of these is the fact that you can only perform the research in only one known regional archive at a time. There is no connection between other regions’ ZAGS archives, in case where your ancestors relocated to another region.
Another problem is the confidentiality of the information as a wife/husband can gain an access to personal information of husband/wife’s kids born from another relationship.
Of course the database is only open to public in ZAGS offices and the person (or by using the solicitor) can only obtain information for his/her family. So proof of the relationship is a must.