06MOSCOW6812, U.S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06MOSCOW6812.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW6812 2006-06-27 07:05 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1288
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #6812/01 1780705
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 270705Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8148
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 006812 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/20/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR PREL RS
SUBJECT: U.S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 
MEETS WITH FEDERAL REGISTRATION SERVICE DIRECTOR 
 
 
Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs Kirk Augustine 
for reasons 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: On June 23 the U.S. Commission on 
International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) met with Federal 
Registration Service (FRS) Director Sergey Movchan to discuss 
the expected impact of the recently adopted and not yet 
implemented NGO law on religious organizations.  Movchan 
upheld the GOR's right to conduct inspections and even ban 
programs and transfers of money to religious organizations, 
but insisted that the FRS would follow strict and 
non-discriminatory procedures in implementing the law.  He 
asserted that concerns over the amount of paperwork for 
annual reports were unfounded and that small organizations 
would not need additional personnel or expertise to complete 
the requirements.  He proposed that the Embassy and FRS work 
together, holding roundtables or seminars with NGOs and 
religious organizations to review the law in detail to 
address questions and misunderstandings.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) USCIRF Chairman Michael Cromartie, Commissioner 
Richard Land, Executive Director Joseph Crapa, and staff 
members Tad Stahnke, David Dettoni, and Robert Blitt met June 
23 with Sergey Movchan, Director of the Federal Registration 
Service; Viktor Korolev, head of the Department for 
Registration of Religious Organizations; and Aleksey 
Zhafyarov, head of the Department for Political Party, 
Public, Religious, and Other Organizations. 
. 
LAYING OUT THE FEDERAL REGISTRATION SERVICE ROLE 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
3. (C) President Putin created the FRS by decree on October 
13, 2004, and it became operational on January 1, 2005.  All 
central and regional registration functions that belonged to 
the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) now belong to the FRS, Movchan 
said, although organizationally it remains under the umbrella 
of the MOJ.  Movchan said the FRS complement of 30,000 
employees work in departments ranging from registering 
property to providing notary services.  The FRS plans to 
expand by 12,000 employees across all departments in 
2007-2008.  The department that registers public 
organizations, including NGOs and religious and political 
organizations, currently employs about 2000 people, but in 
October 2006 it will add 1750 workers.  Employees working on 
registering public organizations are located throughout 
Russia, but Movchan noted that some regions are more active 
and have more FRS workers than others.  He cited FRS weekly 
monitoring reports showing that since the new NGO law came 
into force, the FRS had received "only" 3000 new registration 
applications for all categories of public organizations, 
approximately ten percent of which were rejected. 
 
4. (C) Stahnke mentioned that even with an additional 1750 
workers, 3750 seemed like a low number to monitor an 
estimated 500,000 registered public organizations, especially 
taking into account the new requirement that foreign NGOs 
would have to submit reports every quarter.  Movchan 
responded that many public organizations were not "live," and 
only an estimated 100,000 were actually active.  He believed 
the FRS could handle the increased reporting requirements for 
foreign NGOs, but would re-examine staffing needs next year 
to see if another increase might be necessary.  In terms of 
religious organizations, Movchan said that approximately 
22,500 were registered, fifty-five percent of which belonged 
to the Russian Orthodox Church, twenty percent were 
associated with Protestant denominations, and a little less 
than twenty percent were Islamic.  Every day the FRS went 
through its list and found two or three "dead" organizations 
for removal.  Next year, Movchan added, the FRS would be able 
to see more clearly how many public organizations were really 
active when they submit their annual reports pursuant to the 
new regulations.  Saying that the government did not intend 
to impose overly strict control, Movchan claimed that the FRS 
would not read every annual report from cover to cover 
because it expected the reports to be fair and truthful. 
Instead, it would randomly select ones to be read. 
 
5. (C) Asked if the FRS departments for property or legal 
registration assisted religious groups that were having 
problems with obtaining worship space, Movchan explained that 
when it came it to providing land or restituting property, 
roadblocks mainly lay with municipal governments; the FRS 
could support religious groups and assist them once they 
obtained property, but in general the FRS did not have 
jurisdiction to become involved in anything other than 
registration.  He said the FRS was often in contact with 
Protestant Bishop Sergey Ryakhovskiy, head of the Russian 
Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, and that 
registration issues with Protestant groups were improving. 
. 
 
MOSCOW 00006812  002 OF 003 
 
 
THE FRS AND THE NGO LAW 
----------------------- 
 
6.
 (C) On the controversial NGO law, Movchan 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 noted that before the new NGO law was passed, there were 
two categories of public organizations -- non-commercial 
organizations, over which there had been practically no 
control, and public organizations, including religious 
groups, which had over ten years of experience with 
monitoring by authorities.  This uneven situation had been 
corrected by the new law so that now all public organizations 
would be monitored.  He added that the primary law for 
religious organizations remained the 1997 law on such 
organizations.  Only a few provisions of the new NGO law 
applied to religious organization, and the FRS was limited to 
conducting inspections only in so far as they pertained to an 
organization's activities as stated in its charter. 
 
7. (C) Movchan stressed that under the new NGO law, the FRS 
had the right to attend a public organization's events as an 
observer, but only "when the topic was common to all legal 
entities, for example, meetings dealing with the budget, 
obtaining property, or other operational matters."  If the 
event concerned internal issues such as the goals, mission, 
or charter of the organization, the FRS could attend only if 
invited. (NOTE: Movchan had trouble explaining the 
distinction between the two when pressed for more details.) 
He observed that even ROC Metropolitans Kirill and Klement 
had expressed concern that the FRS would be able to 
participate in meetings of the Holy Synod and had needed 
reassurance that the FRS would not attend such events without 
an invitation. 
 
8. (C) Movchan insisted that the implementing instructions 
governing the FRS's inspection procedures had been written 
but not yet approved by the MOJ or published in the official 
Rossisskaya Gazeta.  According to the current draft of the 
implementing instructions, the Public Organization Department 
would be required to inform the FRS director in writing that 
an organization would be inspected, outlining which documents 
the inspection team wanted to examine and what events it 
planned to attend.  The FRS would then send written 
notification at least one week prior to the visit to the 
designated organization.  Movchan said the organization had 
the right to negotiate the dates of the visit if, for 
example, its leader was not in town or the documents were not 
available.  When conducting an inspection, FRS 
representatives would be required to follow the Criminal and 
Administrative Codes and could not violate the rights of 
believers or religious services.  Movchan said the FRS would 
write a report after the visit and send three copies to the 
head of the organization.  If the organization did not agree 
with the inspection results, it could specify its objections 
on one of the copies and send it back to the FRS.  The FRS 
would consider the objections, but if it still found 
violations, the organization would receive a written warning 
and be given three months to fix the problem.  If the 
organization did not agree with the results of the inspection 
or the inspectors' behavior, they could write a complaint or 
initiate a law suit.  Movchan gave the example of an FRS 
employee who violated the rights of believers during an 
inspection, was found culpable, and had his yearly bonus 
revoked as a result. 
. 
HANDLING OF FOREIGN-FUNDED NGOS 
------------------------------- 
 
9. (C) When Stahnke asked about the article in the law 
regarding the FRS's right to ban programs and transfers of 
money to NGOs that received funding from foreign sources, 
Movchan responded that this particular article was aimed at 
protecting Russia's national interests and that the wording 
was taken almost directly from the 1981 U.N. resolution on 
how to combat the export of revolutions.  Movchan said there 
were currently no implementing guidelines planned for 
handling the banning of programs or transfer of money; 
decisions would be based on court decisions and legal 
precedents.  He added that once the FRS gained more 
experience with implementing this part of the NGO law, 
perhaps it would reconsider and develop normative acts to 
regulate banning.  When deciding to ban a program or transfer 
of money, the FRS would have to give a specific reason for 
the ban, which the organization could appeal in the courts. 
Blitt mentioned that a court case might be prohibitively 
expensive for a small organization.  Movchan responded that 
if the defendant was the government, there would be no cost 
to the organization, since regardless of the decision, there 
was no cost involved in suing the government. 
. 
 
MOSCOW 00006812  003 OF 003 
 
 
CONCERNS OVER PAPERWORK EXAGGERATED 
----------------------------------- 
 
10. (C) Blitt mentioned that officials of some small 
religious organizations with whom the Commission had met had 
expressed concern over the amount of reporting they would be 
required to do under the new law.  Many organizations thought 
that they could not afford lawyers and accountants to assist 
with the paperwork.  Movchan responded that he did not think 
additional assistance was needed to fill out the forms.  The 
FRS had not received any complaints from organizations that 
had registered since the law came into force in April.  He 
mentioned that the FRS was cooperating with the Public 
Chamber to publish recommendations on how to fill out these 
forms.  If there was a minor mistake or omission in the 
paperwork, Movchan continued, the FRS would not go after the 
organization.  The law was new and daunting for both 
organizations and the FRS, so the FRS would not be 
particularly strict concerning the first annual report under 
the new regulations (in April 2007).  Movchan said the goal 
was to force public organizations into financial 
transparency, and that those NGOs that were complaining about 
the amount of paperwork likely had something to hide.  In 
particular, he said that foreign-funded NGOs would have to 
show how their grants were spent, and that since some 
foreign-funded NGOs were using their grants for salaries, 
rather than for the programs the grants were intended to 
subsidize, they did not like the idea of a more detailed 
report. 
 
11. (C) Movchan concluded by proposing to continue the 
dialogue with the Embassy, NGOs, and religious organizations 
concerning details of the law's provisions and its 
implementation.  He said he was willing to hold seminars or 
roundtables at the Embassy or another venue. 
BURNS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: