06MOSCOW96, NGO DRAFT LEGISLATION: STILL UNSIGNED BY PUTIN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW96 2006-01-11 13:53 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8434
OO RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHMO #0096/01 0111353
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 111353Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8746
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3894

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000096 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2015 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RS
SUBJECT: NGO DRAFT LEGISLATION:  STILL UNSIGNED BY PUTIN 
 
REF: 05 MOSCOW 15605 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  President Putin has yet to sign or veto the 
controversial NGO legislation passed in late December by the 
Duma and Federation Council.  Most observers remain convinced 
that he will sign it, although there is some confusion about 
the timeframe in which he must make a decision.  Assuming it 
is signed, the bill will likely require "normative 
regulations" for its implementation, a process on which we 
expect the Justice Ministry to have the lead.  We will 
continue to express our concerns both about the bill and 
particularly about its potential implementation.  END SUMMARY 
. 
BILL REMAINS UNSIGNED 
--------------------- 
 
2. (C) Following its December 23 passage on third reading by 
the State Duma and its December 27 passage by the Federation 
Council (reftel), the controversial NGO bill was sent to 
President Putin for signature.  By law, the FedCouncil must 
pass it to him within five days, after which he has fourteen 
days to either sign it or decline to do so.  We have heard 
differing interpretations from our contacts, however, about 
whether this refers to calendar or working days and whether 
the lengthy holiday period of the past week and a half is to 
be counted.  If the deadlines are counted according to 
calendar days, January 16 would mark the final deadline for a 
decision on the bill.  A contact in the Russian Arbitration 
Court, however, told us that Putin could postpone a decision 
because of Russia's new year holidays.  Similarly, Moscow 
Carnegie Center Senior Scholar Liliya Shevtsova told us that, 
according to one of her contacts, Putin planned to put off a 
decision; this might be explained on the grounds that the 
holiday period could not be counted within the fourteen day 
deadline, Shevtsova speculated. 
 
3. (C) Observers had expected Putin to sign the bill quickly, 
and many of them are surprised that, to date, he has not done 
so.  The general consensus is that he will sign it.  That was 
the view of Shevtsova, for instance.  Similarly, Bishop 
Sergey Ryakhovskiy told us that he expected a signature 
following the holidays and Putin's return from Kazakhstan, 
where he is traveling on January 11.  Ryakhovskiy said that 
he had joined several other Chamber members in bluntly 
criticizing the bill in a recent meeting with Presidential 
Administration deputy head Vladislav Surkov, but conceded 
that that was unlikely to have any bearing.  In a January 11 
meeting with the Ambassador, the UK, German and French 
ambassadors all agreed that an early signature was likely. 
The human rights community generally shares that view.  Two 
long-time human rights activists, Father Gleb Yakunin and Lev 
Ponomarev, told us in separate conversations that they saw 
little hope that Putin would veto the bill.  The lengthy 
holiday period saw almost no action by the civil society 
community with regard to the bill, although such action is 
beginning to start up again.  According to Ford Foundation 
country director Steve Solnick, the Donors Forum is to meet 
on January 13 about the legislation. 
 
4. (SBU) Should Putin veto the bill, he would send it back to 
the legislature, which would be constitutionally required to 
reconsider it.  Although Putin's veto could be overridden (by 
a joint two-third vote of the Duma and FedCouncil), no one 
seriously thinks that could happen.  Instead, the expectation 
is that in such a circumstance, the Duma would amend the 
bill, possibly following input from the Public Chamber, which 
sought to play such a role before dropping that request prior 
to the FedCouncil's December 27 vote. 
. 
IMPLEMENTATION ISSUES 
--------------------- 
 
5. (SBU) Although not all bills require "normative acts" to 
lay out implementation details, the NGO legislation seems 
likely to do so.  It is a complex bill that amends existing 
legislation.  Observers noted, for instance, that normative 
acts would be required because the bill leaves it to the 
government to determine the manner and deadline by which the 
federal registration body would hand over information about 
previously registered NGOs to regional bodies.  Moscow 
Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alekseyeva told us that 
preparation of implementing documentation could prove a 
lengthy process, and if the bill goes into force before all 
documentation is set, local officials could apply it as they 
see fit, arbitrarily targeting organizations they oppose.  We 
understand the Justice Ministry would have the lead in 
preparing implementation details. 
 
 
MOSCOW 00000096  002 OF 002 
 
 
6. (C) In his meeting with his European colleagues, the 
Ambassador noted that assuming the bill is signed, how it is 
implemented will take on prime concern.  His European 
colleagues shared that view, with the German ambassador 
noting that German Chancellor Merkel's planned January 16 
visit might constitute an opportunity to
 express such 
concerns. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
7. (C) Putin has been known to pull off surprises, and no one 
entirely rules out that he could veto the bill.  Were he to 
do so, it would be because he is not comfortable with its 
provisions and/or to cast himself to the international 
community as a progressive force.  Particularly because he 
proposed a number of amendments between the Duma's first and 
second reading, and because many proponents of the bill 
argued that the final version, as ultimately passed by the 
FedCouncil, included those amendments, we share the view that 
he will likely sign it.  This in no way precludes continued 
expressions of concern about the bill's provisions and about 
its implementation.  A/S Lowenkron's upcoming visit will 
offer one important opportunity to reiterate that message, 
which we, working closely with the NGO community and other 
embassies, will continue conveying at every appropriate 
opportunity. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

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