06MOSCOW5454, HELSINKI COMMISSION STAFFDEL MEETS WITH MFA NGO

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5454 2006-05-23 12:29 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO4303
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #5454/01 1431229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231229Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6303
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 005454 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL RS
SUBJECT: HELSINKI COMMISSION STAFFDEL MEETS WITH MFA NGO 
DEPARTMENT 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 2502 
 
     B. MOSCOW 5372 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: In a May 16 meeting with Staffdel Finerty, 
Valeriy Kuzmin, who heads the MFA department responsible for 
interaction with Russia's regions, the Parliament, and civil 
society groups, said that his department also assists 
domestic NGOs in making contact with international 
counterparts.  The department is developing a pool of NGOs 
interested in engaging in dialogue with the GOR, particularly 
on G8 issues.  It also did initial research for the NGO law, 
said Kuzmin, who insisted to the Staffdel that the law met 
international standards.  End summary. 
 
2. (SBU) John Finerty and Kyle Parker of the staff of the 
U.S. Helsinki Commission met May 16 with Valeriy Kuzmin, head 
of the MFA Department for Relations with Constituent Entities 
of the Federation, Parliament, and Public and Political 
Organizations. 
. 
LAYING OUT THE MFA NGO DEPARTMENT'S ROLE 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) According to Kuzmin, the department, which has 
existed for approximately two years, was created to help 
NGOs, religious organizations, and political associations 
interact with the Russian Parliament and regions, as well as 
with international organizations such as ECOSOC and the 
Council of Europe.  It also supports connections between NGOs 
and the State Duma's NGO Committee.  The department maintains 
an interactive website on which NGOs can ask questions and 
receive a response.  Kuzmin said Foreign Minister Lavrov has 
taken an interest in the department and strongly supports its 
activities.  The department hosts regular meetings with 
interested NGOs -- including "opposition" groups such as 
Memorial -- to discuss policies that affect them and listen 
to their concerns.  NGO involvement with the department is 
voluntary, and some invited NGOs -- such as the Moscow 
Helsinki Group -- choose not to work with it, Kuzmin said. 
 
3. (SBU) Kuzmin described his department's role as being like 
"an air traffic control tower," ensuring that everything runs 
smoothly and no "collisions" occur.  The department, for 
instance, worked with the Republic of Kalmykia on the issue 
of granting the Dalai Lama a visa to visit the region.  The 
department is actively involved in the Civil G8 - 2006 
initiative (www.CivilG8.ru) (ref A), which has scheduled six 
meetings during 2006 to discuss issues on the G8 Summit 
agenda, including an International Forum of NGOs to include 
over 500 participants from around the world.  Ella Pamfilova, 
Chairman of the Council for Civil Society Institutions and 
Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation, 
has the lead in arranging those activities, and the 
department is providing logistical support. 
 
4. (SBU) Among the department's future goals was to draw from 
a pool of NGOs to compete for work on special projects 
abroad, Kuzmin continued.  These projects would include 
organizing cultural programs for Russian-speakers in CIS 
countries and for Russian-speakers from CIS countries who 
live in Russia.  He said the department had studied similar 
programs in Italy, Greece, Japan, Canada, and the U.S. and 
would like to implement them, but lacked the budget to do so. 
. 
NGO LAW 
------- 
 
5. (SBU) Asked about the controversial NGO law (ref B and 
previous), Kuzmin emphasized that every government had the 
right to regulate NGOs in its own way, and the West was 
applying a double-standard to Russia.  He said that the NGO 
law had been based on rigorous research of international 
precedents and, as evidence, presented a table the department 
had developed that compared the NGO laws of France, the U.S., 
Finland, Israel, and Poland to Russia's.  On implementation, 
he stressed that the principles of transparency, 
accountability, and responsibility would be followed and that 
existing NGOs would be able to continue their activities as 
before.  The Federal Registration Service will make all 
decisions to open, close, or allow an NGO to keep functioning 
based on its documentation.  As long as NGOs do not hide 
their activities, they should have no problems, Kuzmin said. 
. 
PERSPECTIVES ON THE FUTURE 
-------------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Kuzmin stressed that creation of a vibrant civil 
society would be a generational, organic process, which could 
not be forced through artificially in 2-3 years.  He added 
that the breakup of the Soviet Union had been a conscious 
 
MOSCOW 00005454  002 OF 002 
 
 
choice -- the USSR had not been destroyed by outside forces 
-- and the mentality of today's "Pepsi generation" was 
already changing in terms of perspectives on NGOs, business, 
and culture.  The older generation, however, still tended to 
think in Soviet terms.  He said Russian society should strive 
for a "golden mean," becoming neither too Western nor too 
nostalgic for the Soviet Union's "glory days." &
#x000A; 
7. (U) The staffdel did not have an opportunity to clear this 
cable. 
BURNS

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