06MOSCOW306, PUTIN SIGNS NGO LEGISLATION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW306 2006-01-17 12:52 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO3206
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0306/01 0171252
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 171252Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9179
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3903

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000306 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/17/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM RS
SUBJECT: PUTIN SIGNS NGO LEGISLATION 
 
REF: MOSCOW 0096 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  The GOR announced January 17 that President 
Putin signed the controversial NGO legislation on January 10. 
 That news was made public when a GOR newspaper that 
publishes such announcements printed the bill's text with an 
indication of the date of its signing.  While Putin had 
defended the bill in conversations on January 16 with German 
Chancellor Merkel, he had not announced that he had signed 
it.  In a January 13 conversation with FM Lavrov, the 
Ambassador stressed concerns about its implementation.  The 
Embassy will continue expressing those concerns, including in 
the immediate future, when the GOR will presumably spell out 
implementing details.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
BILL SIGNED 
----------- 
 
2. (U) The lengthy uncertainty and speculation about when the 
controversial NGO bill would be signed (reftel) ended when 
Rossiskaya Gazeta, which publishes such official 
announcements, printed its text with an indication that 
President Putin had signed it on January 10.  This conforms 
with the legal requirement that the text of any bill must be 
published after its signing by the president.  It will go 
into effect ninety days after today's publication.  As of 
midday on January 17, the Kremlin's official website does not 
contain information on Putin's move, although it reports on 
other bills the president has approved.  We understand the 
bill as signed is identical with what the State Duma passed 
on third reading on December 23 and the FedCouncil passed 
four days later. 
 
3. (U) Observers note that Putin did not indicate that he had 
signed the bill when he discussed it on January 16 with 
German Chancellor Merkel.  He did, however, speak of the bill 
as if it had been approved.  According to press reports, 
Putin said the bill would not harm foreign NGOs that are 
working in Russia toward their stated goals.  On the 
contrary, Putin reportedly said, the government would support 
those organizations.  Noting that he had asked the Council of 
Europe to comment on the bill, Putin said that it had done so 
and that all its suggestions had been taken into account when 
the State Duma had amended the legislation.  Putin said that 
among the bill's main goals was to combat "non-transparent 
financing of domestic political activity in Russia." 
 
4. (U) Merkel reportedly said that the discussion had 
included mention of many objections to the bill.  She 
stressed that her government would work to ensure that German 
foundations and NGOs could carry out their work.  Merkel is 
quoted as saying:  "There were many objections to the bill. 
Some were taken into account.  But we will watch how they 
will be carried out in practice."  Merkel met with members of 
Russian civil society following her meeting with Putin. 
(Septel will address Merkel's Moscow visit.) 
 
5. (SBU) As noted reftel, the bill will now likely go to the 
Justice Ministry, which will have the lead in preparing 
"normative regulations" laying out details of implementation. 
 Yuriy Dzhibladze of the Center for the Development of 
Democracy and Human Rights told us January 13 that this 
process would likely take about three months.  He noted the 
importance of closely analyzing those regulations given that 
apparently small details could have a huge impact on 
implementation. 
. 
LAVROV ON LEGISLATION 
--------------------- 
 
6. (C) The Ambassador discussed the NGO bill in a January 13 
meeting with FM Lavrov.  The Ambassador underscored our 
concerns about the bill, including about its implementation. 
Lavrov said he understood those concerns; the MFA had helped 
improve the original draft bill to accommodate some concerns, 
especially related to foreign foundations, and it would be 
important to keep a close eye on implementation. 
. 
NGO REACTIONS 
------------- 
 
7. (C) NGO activists with whom we spoke said they were not 
surprised that Putin had approved the bill.  Indeed, some 
said they had believed Putin had signed it even before the 
new year.  Our contacts were not hopeful about the bill's 
consequences.  Some, such as long-time human rights activist 
Lev Ponomarev, told us Putin would pay little heed to our 
concerns and implement the bill harshly, although he 
 
MOSCOW 00000306  002 OF 002 
 
 
acknowledged that might not occur immediately.  Others felt 
that it was essential for the West, including the U.S., to 
keep stressing our concerns in order to have some bearing on 
implementing legislation and, over the longer term, on how 
the legislation is carried out.  Visiting A/S Lowenkron and 
DAS Kramer will join the Ambassador for a discussion of this 
issue with NGO activists in a January 17 meeting. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
8. (C) Putin's signing of the bill came as no surprise, but 
the way it was announced is curious.  Although any lingering &#x0
00A;questions about whether Putin would sign have now been 
resolved, how it will be implemented remains an issue, 
presumably to be addressed initially in preparation of 
"normative regulations."  For this reason, we will continue 
stressing our concerns about the bill's implementation, and 
the visit of A/S Lowenkron and DAS Kramer offers an 
opportunity to reinforce that message. 
BURNS

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