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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW5998 2006-06-05 15:13 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

DE RUEHMO #5998/01 1561513
P 051513Z JUN 06

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 005998 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2016 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4 (B/D). 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Faced with the controversial new NGO law and 
other worrisome developments, independent civil society 
activists are looking to the G8 Summit as an opportunity to 
strengthen their positions or at least publicize their 
causes.  Some are willing to take part in the official G8 
event for NGOs, organized by presidential council on civil 
society head Ella Pamfilova, while others view that as 
"legitimizing Putin's policies" and risking cooptation.  The 
main independent event will be the "Another Russia" forum, 
although some activists worry that its plan to include both 
opposition politicians and civil society activists is flawed. 
 We offer the following description of the major civil 
society events currently in the works or under consideration 
as well as of the debates about them among independent 
activists.  END SUMMARY. 
2. (SBU) The most significant official event involving civil 
society will be the so-called Civil G8, to be held in Moscow 
on July 3-4.  Organized by Ella Pamfilova, Chair of the 
Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human 
Rights, it is to bring together some five hundred Russian and 
foreign NGOs to discuss the Summit's agenda items.  At a May 
31 press conference, Pamfilova noted that the event would 
also include a focus on human rights issues, including 
relations between NGOs and the authorities, migrants' rights, 
and human rights issues in the context of the war on terror. 
Pamfilova organized a preparatory event of the same name on 
March 9-10, which G8 Sherpa attended (reftel), which featured 
representatives of some three hundred NGOs from thirty 
countries.  World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia head Igor 
Chestin recently told the Ambassador that President Putin was 
expected to speak on the July event's second day.  Chestin 
was among those opposed to issuing a joint statement at the 
event's conclusion, although he favored announcing the 
conclusions reached at the Civil G8's roundtables. 
3. (C) Just as with the March event, independent civil 
society activists have mixed views about whether to 
participate in the July Civil G8.  Even many sharp critics of 
the Putin Administration believe they should take part.  They 
see the event as giving them a forum to speak out against 
Kremlin policies, both to a domestic and above all a foreign 
NGO audience, and hope to attract considerable media 
coverage.  Some among them also seek to lend implicit support 
to Pamfilova, whom they view as doing her best -- within the 
bounds of what is possible given her official position -- to 
help independent NGOs and represent their views to the 
Kremlin.  Yuriy Dzhibladze of the Center for the Development 
of Civil Society and Human Rights, for instance, is among 
those currently engaged in planning the event, in which he 
plans to take part.  Other activists, by contrast, firmly 
oppose participation, which they see as helping legitimize 
Kremlin policy toward civil society and view as a ploy to 
coopt independent NGOs.  Some of those espousing that view, 
including For Human Rights NGO head Lev Ponomarev, 
acknowledge that they have not been invited to the Civil G8 
but criticize anyone who accepts an invitation.  Members of 
the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society have been harshly 
critical of those who agree to attend even as observers. 
4. (SBU) As part of the G8 Summit preparations and in the 
run-up to the Civil G8, the New Eurasia Foundation, along 
with the Kennan Institute and others, is planning a June 29 
experts meeting in Moscow about the relationship between 
civil liberties and the war on terrorism.  It is to include 
some thirty experts from all the G8 countries.  New Eurasia's 
Andrey Kortunov told us that the meeting is to be held under 
Pamfilova's general sponsorship, and that Pamfilova has 
pledged to convey the conclusions to the Sherpas and possibly 
to President Putin before the Summit.  Human rights activist 
Tatyana Lokshina of the Demos Center told us she saw little 
hope that the meeting would affect the Summit agenda but 
believed that, at minimum, it would lay the groundwork for 
placing the issue on future G8 Summit agendas. 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
5. (C) Seeking to organize a major independent alternative to 
the Civil G8, many activists pressed to hold another of the 
Civic Forums that have taken place in recent years. 
Previously such events brought together opposition 
MOSCOW 00005998  002 OF 003 
politicians and independent civil society activists, although 
they failed to unite the opposition camp, as some had hoped. 
By many accounts, their most important result was to show 
that independent civil society remains both vibrant, notably 
in the provinces, and determined
to continue opposing Kremlin 
control.  While activists saw these goals as justifying a 
Civic Forum right before the G8 Summit, some worried that 
having politicians participate could end up undercutting 
independent NGOs, which might be discredited by being 
associated with political squabbling and be seen as favoring 
opposition political causes, thus increasing the chances that 
the authorities would target them for harassment or closure. 
Debate also raged over whether to invite the whole spectrum 
of the opposition to Putin or limit the event to "democratic" 
forces (i.e., exclude leftist and nationalist oppositionists). 
6. (C) In recent weeks, advocates of holding such an event 
won out, with Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila 
Alekseyeva's decision to support it being widely seen as 
pivotal.  Calling it "Another Russia," organizers led by 
Alekseyeva, United Civil Front head Garri Kasparov and 
Indem's Georgiy Satarov are arranging to hold the Forum in 
Moscow on July 11-12.  In a May 31 meeting, Kasparov told us 
plans are moving ahead, with some 350 participants expected, 
evenly divided among national-level figures, those from the 
regions and those from abroad.  Kasparov said the event would 
be open to the entire spectrum of opposition figures, from 
right to left.  Much of the funding would come from Russian 
sources, Kasparov said, while the National Endowment for 
Democracy and George Soros' Open Society Institute would fund 
foreigners' participation.  Kasparov said that the organizers 
had succeeded in securing hotel space after initial 
difficulties, although he did not rule out new Kremlin 
attempts to keep the event from taking place. 
7. (C) Kasparov predicted that virtually all the major 
democratic politicians, including former PM Mikhail Kasyanov 
and Yabloko head Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, would take part.  Also 
among those participating would be the National Bolshevik 
Party, whose leader, Eduard Limonov, was expected to speak at 
a session devoted to political prisoners.  The Rodina party 
would not be invited because of its association with 
ultra-nationalist causes, although former Rodina leader 
Sergey Glazyev was likely to take part, according to 
8. (C) The decision to hold the "Another Russia" event 
dampened plans, supported by Lokshina, Open Russia head Irina 
Yasina and others, to hold a civil society event in Helsinki 
on July 17-19.  Yasina and her colleagues had envisioned 
bringing together activists from throughout the world for an 
event that would have a broad international focus but with a 
heavy emphasis on the plight of Russia's beleaguered civil 
society.  They had hoped that high-level officials of G8 
countries would break off from the St. Petersburg Summit to 
attend.  A dispirited Yasina told us on May 30 that the event 
was almost certain not to take place, primarily due to 
funding problems. 
9. (C) Lokshina, along with Dzhibladze and others, are 
organizing a July 5 human rights event in Moscow.  Lokshina 
told us June 5 that it had been planned to allow for human 
rights issues to get prominent attention if they are not 
fully addressed at Pamfilova's event of the two preceding 
days; organizers had considered holding the event on July 10 
but had eventually opted for the earlier date, Lokshina said, 
in part to maintain some distance from the "Another Russia" 
event.  Kasparov argued to us that the July 5 event was 
unnecessary and, by giving the impression that democratic 
activists cannot coordinate their activities, only served the 
Kremlin's interests. 
10. (C) Other activists are planning their own events.  For 
Human Rights NGO's Ponomarev told us he is seeking support to 
hold a "Russian Social Forum 2006" on July 14-15 in St. 
Petersburg.  Like Ponomarev, the other organizers of that 
event, including some leftist youth organizers, take an 
uncompromising stance toward the Putin administration. 
Ponomarev has acknowledged to us, as well as to our UK and 
German colleagues, that the prospects of holding such an 
event in St. Petersburg as the G8 Summit gets underway are 
bleak, although he has also publicly suggested that activists 
would descend on that city for protest actions.  Meanwhile, 
Green Party head Aleksandr Yablokov told us on May 31 that he 
is continuing with plans to hold an "alternative energy 
summit" for St. Petersburg on July 9-10, although he would 
not rule out that those plans will eventually be scuttled. 
That event is among several being planned by 
environmentalists to protest GOR plans to expand nuclear 
MOSCOW 00005998  003 OF 003 
power.  Yablokov made a point of telling us that foreign 
anti-globalists would not be invited to his event. 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
11. (C) Meanwhile, a number of activists hope to be able to 
meet with G7 leaders on the margins of the Summit. 
Dzhibladze told us May 31 that a meeting or reception at 
which the G7 leaders, ideally as a group, met with 
independent activists would send a strong signal of support, 
as well as highlighting concern with implementation of the 
NGO law.  He said he would not oppose extending an invitation 
to President Putin to attend, although he was certain Putin 
would not accept.  Dzhibladze said he had raised the issue 
most recently with the German government.  Kasparov also said 
an event for activists with G7 leaders would be a major boost 
to the human rights cause. 
12. (C) The WWF's Chestin, when he met the Ambassador, 
discussed holding a summit of the leaders of some thirty of 
the top global NGO networks in St. Petersburg on July 13-14. 
Organizers set as criteria for participation that an NGO must 
work in at least fifty countries and represent at least one 
million members or supporters.  Chestin indicated that the 
international heads of several such organizations, including 
WWF, Oxfam, Greenpeace and Amnesty International, had 
indicated their support.  Given the prominence of the 
organizations' international heads, Chestin believed the GOR 
would issue them visas, and he hoped that President Putin 
and, if present, other G8 leaders would meet with such a 
group.  Chestin told us May 31 that in a meeting a week 
earlier with G8 Sherpas, Russian Sherpa Igor Shuvalov had 
strongly opposed the idea.  The organizers had subsequently 
scaled back their plans to include fewer NGOs, and had 
written letters to the heads of the G8 countries seeking 
support for the idea.  Chestin expressed uncertainty whether 
that event would take place. 
13. (SBU) Aside from the range of civil society activities, 
other events are being planned in the run-up to the Summit. 
Among the most noteworthy is a World Summit of Religious 
s, to be held in Moscow on July 4-5.  It is organized 
by the Inter-religious Councils of Russia and the CIS, with a 
heavy role for the Russian Orthodox Church.  Contacts have 
told us that major religious leaders from throughout the 
world are likely to attend, with the Vatican delegation to be 
led by State Secretary Cardinal Sodano. 
14. (C) The disarray and inability to unite around a common 
plan for independent civil society involving the G8 Summit 
parallels the long-standing inability of Russian "democrats" 
to coalesce into an effective opposition force.  Many 
activists acknowledge that problem, at least privately, yet 
underscore that it should not significantly detract from 
events that will send a strong signal about the vibrancy of 
Russia's civil society. 


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