06MOSCOW1212, PUBLIC CHAMBER HEAD VELIKHOV DESCRIBES EFFORTS TO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW1212 2006-02-08 12:35 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO9916
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1212/01 0391235
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081235Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0387
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 001212 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/08/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: PUBLIC CHAMBER HEAD VELIKHOV DESCRIBES EFFORTS TO 
HELP CIVIL SOCIETY 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 01090 
 
     B. MOSCOW 861 
     C. MOSCOW 01082 
     D. MOSCOW 922 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  For Reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. SUMMARY.  In a February 6 meeting with the Ambassador, 
Public Chamber Secretary Yevgeniy Velikhov expressed hope 
that the Chamber could positively influence the implementing 
regulations for the controversial NGO legislation.  He 
dismissed recent spying accusations against NGOs as nonsense. 
 He said that priorities for the Chamber included combating 
hazing, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and corruption, as well as 
promoting philanthropy.  Velikhov discussed the Chamber's 
relations with the Duma and the Kremlin.  The Ambassador 
noted the mutually beneficial nature of U.S. support to civil 
society in Russia and offered to share the USG experience on 
working with NGOs with the Chamber.  Turning to the G-8, 
Velikhov criticized some of Russia's preparations on youth 
and energy as superficial.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
NGO LEGISLATION 
--------------- 
 
2. (C) On February 6, Public Chamber Secretary and Kurchatov 
Institute President Yevgeniy Velikhov told the Ambassador 
there was a good chance that the Chamber could positively 
influence the implementing regulations for the controversial 
NGO legislation (ref A).  The Chamber received information 
about the implementation process from relevant ministries, 
which were legally bound to provide such information.  Based 
on this information the Chamber planned to make proposals to 
the GOR for the implementing regulations.  The Ambassador 
offered to share with the Chamber information about how the 
U.S. implements its laws regarding NGOs. 
 
3. (C) Velikhov expressed concern about the effect of the 
recent spying accusations against NGOs (ref B), which he 
described as nonsense.  The allegations stemmed from a 
baseless fear of the "colored" revolutions.  Velikhov noted 
that the Public Chamber's Committee on Civil Society would 
work with NGOs to increase financial transparency to avoid 
such charges and to foster a positive image of NGOs and 
donors.  The Ambassador and Velikhov discussed the 
possibility of a joint event with Junior Achievement to 
highlight the valuable philanthropic work that the USG funded 
in Russia.  (Note: Velikhov was a founder of Junior 
Achievement in Russia.  End Note.) 
. 
OTHER PRIORITIES FOR CHAMBER 
---------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Discussing some of the Chamber's other priorities, 
Velikhov said the body was working with the Ministry of 
Defense on the issue of hazing in the military.  The problem 
had a long history that defied quick fixes, and part of the 
solution involved the military working with NGOs.  Velikhov 
noted that the Chamber's Council, which is comprised of the 
Chairmen of the 17 Commissions, the Secretary and the Deputy 
Secretary, would hear a report that day on the recent hazing 
 
SIPDIS 
incident in Chelyabinsk (ref C). 
 
5. (C) Velikhov also saw a role for the Chamber in fighting 
xenophobia and anti-Semitism.  As a first step, the Chamber 
was planning on holding prayer breakfasts with participation 
by all religious denominations.  Velikhov said that Russia 
had difficulties in the area of religious tolerance due to 
the aggressive stance of the Russian Orthodox Church in its 
relations with other religious groups and the many strong 
disagreements in the religious community among different 
faiths. 
 
6. (C) According to Velikhov, another key priority for the 
Chamber would be to increase philanthropy.  Velikhov 
expressed optimism that Vladimir Potanin, chairman of the 
Commission on Charity and owner of Norilsk Nickel, could 
mobilize the business community to donate more.  Velikhov and 
the Ambassador discussed the possibility of having members of 
the American Chamber of Commerce speak with a group organized 
by Potanin to share U.S. business views about the importance 
of charity.  One of the biggest problems with philanthropy in 
Russia was the absence of a tax exemption for charitable 
donations, Velikhov said.  Velikhov had raised this issue 
with Putin many times, but it went nowhere due to Putin's 
concerns that such a tax exemption would be used to launder 
money. 
 
7. (C) Velikhov said fighting corruption would be another 
important task for the Chamber.  He noted that corruption 
existed during the Soviet period and was an illness that was 
 
MOSCOW 00001212  002 OF 002 
 
 
deeply embedded in the system.  Putin requested that the 
Chamber help monitor the money being spent on new national 
projects to protect against corruption.  Velikhov had already 
met with Accounting Chamber Chairman Sergey Stepashin and 
Transparency International's Managing Director Yelena 
Panfilova to mobilize the government, NGOs, and the public as 
part of a long-term approach to
 the problem. 
. 
PUBLIC CHAMBER'S RELATIONS WITH THE GOR 
--------------------------------------- 
 
8. (C) Turning to relations with the Duma, Velikhov said that 
some deputies were taking a cautious approach to the Chamber. 
 Velikhov stressed the need for close coordination between 
the Chamber and the Duma to work on developing legislation. 
He expressed concern about missed opportunities for the 
Chamber if Duma deputies were not forthcoming about the 
schedule for pending legislation, as happened with the recent 
NGO legislation.  Cooperation between the two bodies was 
complicated since some Duma Committees already had good 
contact with NGOs and worked with them on legislation. 
Velikhov noted, however, that not all Duma committees had 
strong ties to NGOs.  He believed that the Chamber could 
serve as a bridge to civil society since all the Chamber's 
Commissioners had experience working with both the Duma and 
NGOs. 
 
9. (C) Velikhov believed that the Duma had limited power over 
the Chamber, since the Duma directly funded only the grants 
the Chamber would give to NGOs.  Velikhov said the salary for 
staffers on the Chamber's Commissions came from the Kremlin, 
and Chamber members received no salary at all.  He also noted 
that the Chamber's Commissions lacked office space at the 
moment and many of the commissioners would use their own 
office space for meetings.  When asked by the Ambassador 
about the Kremlin's role in the Chamber, Velikhov identified 
Presidential Administration (PA) Domestic Politics 
Administration deputy head Mikhail Ostrovskiy as the 
Kremlin's main point person for the Chamber.  The Kremlin had 
not formally finalized the role, but Velikhov hoped that 
Ostrovskiy would remain in the position.  Velikhov also said 
that due to his numerous responsibilities, he had reluctantly 
agreed to Putin's request to head the Public Chamber and 
noted that his term of service would only be for two years. 
. 
MORE COULD BE DONE ON EDUCATION AND NUCLEAR ENERGY FOR G-8 
--------------------------------------------- ------------- 
 
10. (C) Velikhov expressed concern that the GOR's 
preparations for the G-8 summit were primarily focused on 
public relations, rather than producing good results.  In 
particular the GOR could focus more on youth issues and he 
called for greater educational links between the U.S. and 
Russia as part of the summit.  Velikhov said that Junior 
Achievement might be able to play a role contributing to the 
dialogue on this G-8 issue.  As for energy security, Velikhov 
believed that too much attention was being paid to 
hydro-carbons and that nuclear issues were being neglected. 
He suggested focusing on nuclear fuel cycle technology to 
reduce the risks of proliferation and the costs of producing 
nuclear electricity.  He also spoke about a proposal in the 
works to build nuclear submarines and underwater pipelines 
for transporting liquid natural gas (LNG) to reduce the risk 
of terrorists attacking LNG tankers.  The Ambassador noted 
that the energy component at the G-8 could also be 
strengthened by the GOR helping resolve key issues such as 
Shtokman, the Caspian pipeline, and subsoil legislation 
before the summit. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
11. (C) The Public Chamber was designed to strengthen the 
Kremlin's control over NGOs and to help create a more 
compliant civil society (ref D).  Most Chamber members 
support the Kremlin.  Nevertheless, some of the members who 
have a strong independent standing like Velikhov will likely 
be useful to engage.  Velikhov seemed well-informed, engaged, 
and realistic about the issues that the Chamber was facing. 
His willingness to reach out to organizations like 
Transparency International indicates that the Chamber will 
not always turn to noncontroversial organizations on issues 
and that the Chamber may occasionally deviate from the 
Kremlin line. 
BURNS

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