06MOSCOW7124, PUTIN MEETS WITH NGO REPRESENTATIVES AS PART OF

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7124 2006-07-06 08:47 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO0136
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7124/01 1870847
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 060847Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8516
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 007124 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/06/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: PUTIN MEETS WITH NGO REPRESENTATIVES AS PART OF 
CIVIL G8 
 
REF: MOSCOW 2502 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns.  Reasons: 1.4 (b/d). 
 
 1. (C) SUMMARY:  The main GOR-sponsored civil society event, 
the Civil G8, was held July 3-4 in Moscow. The event brought 
together a wide range of NGOs for lively discussions on 
themes, including G8 agenda items as well as the state of 
Russia's civil society. Putin attended several Civil G8 
events with NGOs, and spent a total of nearly three hours in 
discussions with them.  Many participants characterized these 
encounters as positive. Putin promised that he would work to 
change controversial NGO legislation if it became too 
burdensome.  Putin appeared relaxed and confident, responding 
to questions and statements by NGO representatives.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
CIVIL G8 
-------- 
 
2. (SBU) The main GOR-sponsored civil society event -- the 
Civil -- G8 --was held on July 3-4 in Moscow.  Ella 
Pamfilova, Chair of the Presidential Council for Assistance 
to Development of Institutions of Civil Society and Human 
Rights, served as coordinator.  The event was a follow up to 
the previous Civil G8, which was held in March (reftel).  A 
wide variety of organizations attended -- Memorial, Carnegie 
Center for International Peace, the Center for Development of 
Democracy and Human Rights, Greenpeace, the Woods Hole 
Research Center, Human Rights First, and Oxfam.  According to 
a list provided to the Embassy, there were over 270 foreign 
participants. 
 
3. (C) In the opening plenary session, Pamfilova noted the 
presence of NGO representatives from all G8 countries as well 
as Brazil, the Baltic states, Senegal, South Africa and the 
CIS states.  Many participants told us they were amazed by 
the resources that the GOR apparently was willing to spend on 
the event.  Nigel Martin, President of the Forum 
International de Montreal, whose organization claims to have 
organized the first G8 NGO conference in 2002, told us that 
the level of GOR support was unprecedented. He also 
speculated that one possible motivation for such support was 
the GOR's desire to show the world that civil society in 
Russia was healthy and vibrant. 
 
4. (C) After the initial plenary the participants broke into 
sub-groups to discuss the themes for this year's G8  previous 
G8 issues, and topics that the NGOs wanted to place on the 
agenda.  At the request of NGOs, Pamfilova added four 
roundtable discussions on human rights.  Demos Center's 
Tatyana Lokshina expressed satisfaction that human rights 
NGOs were allowed to decide whom to invite to these 
roundtables and to choose the topics for discussion.  These 
roundtables examined subjects such as restrictions on human 
rights under the guise of the war against terror and overall 
relations between governments and NGOs.  The roundtables that 
Embassy observers attended featured lively discussions. 
 
PUTIN'S PLENARY SESSION WITH NGOS 
--------------------------------- 
 
5. (C) On July 4, Putin attended a plenary session with NGOS 
representative, attended by several hundred representatives 
and members of the press.  For nearly two hours, Putin 
listened and responded to presentations on topics ranging 
from genetically modified food to Iran's nuclear program. On 
Iran, Putin said he hoped the Iranians would accept the 
nuclear program proposals put before them prior to the G8 
summit but also acknowledged that it might not be possible. 
Putin also warned of the danger of non-nuclear ballistic 
missiles and reiterated his call for more discussions on 
reducing strategic nuclear weapons.  Responding to concerns 
about Russia's recent NGO legislation, Putin said he would 
act to change it if it became too burdensome.  He also noted 
that the GOR had consulted with the Council of Europe on the 
legislation and that the main intention was not to restrict 
NGOs but to bring order to the NGO sector.  However, Putin 
also repeated previous statements that he objected to foreign 
government funding of political activity in Russia. 
 
6. (C) Putin appeared relaxed and confident, responding to 
NGO questions and concerns on sensitive topics like Chechnya. 
 He adroitly handled an outburst by anti-nuclear protesters 
who stood on their chairs to shout: "No to nuclear power 
stations."  The protesters, who had the same slogan taped on 
their shirts, were permitted to remain in the hall, Putin 
said they should be allowed to express their views. 
Responding like a Western politician on the campaign trail, 
Putin deftly complied with a request to wear a button from 
Russian NGO Perspektiva to indicate his support for inclusive 
 
MOSCOW 00007124  002 OF 002 
 
 
education. 
 
PUTIN'S MEETING WITH NGO AND BUSINESS LEADERS 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
7. (C) Putin later held a smaller meeting with the heads of a 
number of major international NGOs, such as Amnesty 
International, Transparency International, Human Rights 
Watch, and the World Wi
ldlife Fund.  No media were present. 
Allison Gill of Human Rights Watch told us that the NGOs 
wanted to discuss four main issues -- energy and climate 
change, development and poverty elimination, human rights and 
security, and the Russian NGO legislation.  The tone of the 
meeting was reportedly positive, although light on specific 
promises, with Putin again reiterating support for NGOs. 
When told that foreign NGOs might have to report their 
intention to hold press conferences a month in advance, Putin 
appeared surprised and said that was not part of the 
legislation, although he stated that it might be part of the 
implementing regulations. 
 
8. (C) Tatyana Monaghan of the International Chamber of 
Commerce in Russia told the Ambassador that she was impressed 
with Putin's performance during his July 4 meeting with the 
representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce.  At 
that meeting he asserted the importance of civil society in 
Russia and reinterated his previous remarks that he would fix 
problems that emerged from the implementation of the NGO 
legislation. Putin stressed that the GOR was serious about 
taking steps to solve the problem of intellectual property 
rights protection.  Monaghan said Putin displayed a strong 
grasp of the facts and details on the issues raised in the 
meeting.  She also noted that businessman Oleg Deripaska 
attended the meeting but was largely silent throughout the 
proceedings. 
 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
9. (C) The Civil G8 and the events surrounding it were 
obviously part of the Kremlin's efforts to dampen criticism 
of the GOR's approach to civil society development prior to 
the G8 summit. The event did allow independent NGOs the 
opportunity to present their views directly to Putin on 
topics of their choosing and to obtain a public response from 
the President.  Putin himself appeared to have impressed many 
of his critics in the NGO community with his lively and well 
informed performance at the meetings.  Whether such 
interaction has any long-term significance remains to be 
seen, but Putin's willingness to hold such meetings with 
civil society representatives was a positive sign. 
BURNS

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