06MOSCOW7956, POST-MORTEM ON G8-RELATED NGO EVENTS

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW7956 2006-07-26 10:31 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1486
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #7956/01 2071031
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261031Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9511
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 007956 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/24/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: POST-MORTEM ON G8-RELATED NGO EVENTS 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 7124 
     B. MOSCOW 7670 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel A. Russell for reasons: 1.4 (b/d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY:  Looking back on the four non-governmental 
events ahead of the G8 Summit, NGO activists and opposition 
politicians have widely diverging assessments about their 
implications.  Ella Pamfilova's July 3-4 Civil G8 highlighted 
the broad range of NGOs in Russia, notably those involveQin 
non-political activity, and many human rights activists 
praised her for allowing some space for human rights issues 
as well, even as they worried that the event obscured 
worrisome trends that could affect their activities.  Human 
rights activists believed their July 5 follow-on conference 
gave greater voice to their concerns.  Views diverged most 
widely over the more political July 11-12 "The Other Russia" 
conference, with many seeing it as having damaged the 
democratic camp by highlighting its inability to unify while 
others argued that it provided a useful forum for opposition 
groups, albeit some anti-democratic ones.  President Bush's 
July 14 meeting with activists was widely seen to have been 
an important expression of support for civil society. 
Although deeply divided, our contacts were unanimous in their 
appreciation for Western participation in the events, and 
they encouraged the U.S. to stay involved with Russian civil 
society.  END SUMMARY. 
. 
THE CIVIL G8 AND A MORE HUMAN RIGHTS-FOCUSED FOLLOW-ON 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
2. (C) From the Kremlin's perspective, the July 3-4 Civil G8 
offered an opportunity to portray Russia as NGO-friendly and 
to engage Russian civil society activists and their 
counterparts from other G8 countries in discussions of G8 
agenda items.  NGO activists engaged in social and other 
non-political issues saw it as demonstrating the breadth of 
their work in Russia.  Many Russian opposition groups were 
not invited, although, as noted in ref A, strong critics of 
the Putin administration such as Yuriy Dzhibladze played a 
role in organizing the event and independent groups such as 
Memorial took part.  Civil G8 chair Ella Pamfilova, Chair ofQhe Presidential Council for Development of Civil Society 
Institutions and Democracy, received praise from many of our 
opposition interlocutors for adding human rights to the 
event's agenda.  Although participants were told not to focus 
primarily on Russia-specific issues, the format provided a 
starting point for discussing Russia's problems in the 
international human rights framework and for building 
relationships with foreign colleagues.  President Putin 
impressed many of the participants during the two hours he 
spoke at the plenary session. 
 
3. (C) From the point of view of a number of our independent 
NGO interlocutors, the Civil G8 caused more harm than good. 
They argued that many of the foreign NGOs, particularly those 
with limited knowledge about Russia, likely came away with a 
distorted image of the country's civil society scene after 
witnessing a Kremlin "charm offensive."  Irina Yasina, 
Executive Director of the Open Russia Foundation, described 
the Civil G8 as "theater" and said that many participants did 
not raise important issues for fear of spoiling their 
relations with the Kremlin. 
 
4. (C) For many NGOs, the July 5 follow-on conference was an 
important event because it allowed activists to openly 
discuss Russia's key human rights issues.  That event was 
scheduled specifically so that Western activists already in 
town could attend, and all of the presenters were domestic 
activists who focused on Russian issues, including Kremlin 
policies toward media freedom, freedom of assembly, prison 
conditions and the North Caucasus.  Leaders of Human Rights 
Watch told us they saw the event as the most significant of 
all those leading to the Summit, and organizer Yuriy 
Dzhibladze praised the resulting concrete recommendations. 
Nonetheless, as several activists told us, lack of publicity 
lessened the event's impact. 
. 
DEBATE OVER "THE OTHER RUSSIA" EVENT 
------------------------------------ 
 
5. (C) Political activist Garri Kasparov, president of INDEM 
Foundation Georgiy Satarov, and leading human rights activist 
Lyudmila Alekseyeva organized "The Other Russia" to give 
voice to views across the spectrum of the political 
opposition in hopes both of drawing international support and 
finding common ground (ref B and previous).  The event had 
long been controversial among independent activists, 
primarily due to the participation of anti-democratic 
opposition figures such as National Bolshevik Party head 
Eduard Limonov and left-wing Labor Russia movement head 
Viktor Anpilov.  Also, Yasina and DEMOS Center's Tatyana 
 
MOSCOW 00007956  002 OF 003 
 
 
Lokshina told us they were uncomfortable with a conference 
that would bring together human rights activists and 
politicians, primarily for the latter's benefit as they saw 
it.  There was uncertainty until shortly before the 
conference whether leading democratic opposition political 
parties
 Yabloko, the Union of Right Forces (SPS), and the 
Communist Party (KPRF) -- or their members, acting 
individually -- would attend.  When Mikhail Delyagin, the 
head of Rodina's ideological department, decided to attend 
contrary to orders from his party, he was ousted from Rodina. 
 
 
6. (C) Opinions about "The Other Russia" have ranged widely 
in the aftermath of the event.  In addition to the Kremlin's 
pre-conference comments (ref B), Kremlin-friendly figures 
such as Public Chamber member Vyacheslav Nikonov have 
criticized it, arguing that it represented the views of only 
a tiny element of Russia's population.  Other criticisms 
focused on the fact that it conflated civil society groups 
with political parties, when their roles should be separate. 
Youth activist Mariya Gaydar told us that the opposition's 
"ultra-liberal" focus on human rights prevented it from 
building a viable party platform that would connect with 
issues of concern to the broader population, such as family 
values, religious beliefs, and healthy patriotism.  Kasparov, 
by contrast, told us the event, which was his idea, was a 
huge success.  Perhaps showing a streak of defensiveness 
about the organizers' decision to include Limonov and 
Anpilov, he argued to us that excluding them would have 
detracted from the open spirit of the event. 
 
7. (C) Demonstrations by pro-Kremlin groups, as well as 
arrests of four National Bolsheviks outside the conference 
hall, were heavily reported in the media, although there were 
significantly fewer disruptions than expected (ref B).  Some 
participants saw such disruptions as showing the Kremlin's 
ability to hamper independent political activity.  Others, 
like the Higher School of Economics' Yevgeniy Gaydar, told us 
that such behavior played into the organizers' hands and gave 
the event more publicity than it otherwise would have had. 
 
8. (C) For several of our interlocutors, the fact that the 
conference could take place at all was an important victory 
for opposition forces.  The Kremlin would have preferred to 
derail plans for "The Other Russia" ahead of time but had 
failed to do so, largely because of Western attention, said 
Aleksey Venediktov, chief editor of the independent Ekho 
Moskvy radio station.  Carnegie Center's Liliya Shevtsova 
shared that view, telling us that the participation of 
Assistant Secretaries Dan Fried and Barry Lowenkron was an 
important symbol of support. 
 
9. (C) Pro-Kremlin figures highlighted the refusal of Yabloko 
and SPS to attend as proof of the inability of democratic 
opposition elements to unify.  Even a number of activists 
shared that view, with Shevtsova telling us that from the 
perspective of opposition unity, the event had been a 
significant failure.  She also expressed concern about 
democrats joining such figures as Anpilov and Limonov on 
stage.  In the view of others, the disunity could prove to be 
the kind of catalytic event that opposition democrats need. 
Yasina told us that the decision of Yabloko and SPS not to 
attend was a mistake that dispelled any lingering hopes that 
they could be partners in a united democratic effort. 
Venediktov shared with us his similar hope that the disunity 
might finally lead at least some of the democrats to 
subjugate their personal ambitions and seek common ground. 
. 
A VALUED MEETING WITH PRESIDENT BUSH 
------------------------------------ 
 
10. (C)  Several participants in the meeting with President 
Bush praised his willingness to meet with them personally. 
Yasina and World Wildlife Fund Russia head Igor Chestin told 
us they were impressed with the event's informality and the 
useful give-and-take.  Echoing that view, "Da!" youth 
movement head Mariya Gaydar said that: 
-- the meeting raised the international profile of its 
participants, particularly Open Russia and DEMOS, thereby 
offering them some protection from government harassment; 
-- it offered President Bush specific areas of concern that 
he might raise with Putin, thus potentially exploiting 
Putin's desire to maintain a good reputation on civil society; 
-- it allowed them to discuss U.S. funding for Russian NGOs; 
and 
-- it was a way to communicate directly with the President 
concerning civil society's situation in Russia. 
. 
THE EVENTS' AFTERMATH 
--------------------- 
 
11. (C) For individual groups, we have seen little impact 
 
MOSCOW 00007956  003 OF 003 
 
 
resulting from their participation in the civil society 
events.  On the negative side, human rights attorney Karina 
Moskalenko of the International Protection Center told us she 
believed there was a connection between the Center's 
participation in "The Other Russia" conference and a five 
million USD back tax bill levied on her Center on the grounds 
that donations from the National Endowment for Democracy, the 
MacArthur Foundation and Open Society are actually profits. 
On the more positive side, Yasina told us that following her 
meeting with President Bush and as a result of the attention 
it gave her, she was approached by staffers from the Public 
Chamber inviting her to take part in a competition for civil 
society funding. 
 
12.  (C) More broadly, Dzhibladze argued, politically active 
independent NGOs are as deeply divided as they were in the 
run-up to the G8.  Some had felt that participating in the 
Civil G8 would mean they were contributing to the 
authorities' "PR campaign," while others refused to 
participate in "The Other Russia," feeling it would put their 
activities into question.  After much discussion, the 
majority of groups agreed to attend all events, and to 
organize their own, separate human rights conference -- the 
event of July 5.  Dzhibladze told us that the divisive 
debates going into the G8 might have a lasting effect on 
relationships among NGOs. 
. 
COMMENT 
------- 
 
13.  (C) Russia's NGO community presents a complex picture, 
which the civil society-related events in the run-up to the 
Summit only served to highlight.  For the large and growing 
group of NGOs that avoid politics and focus on social, health 
and similar issues, the Civil G8 underscored their existence 
and activities.  For the NGOs involved in opposition 
politics, meanwhile, the various events offered an 
opportunity to highlight their concerns but also underscored 
the divisions that have long plagued them.  Some of them -- 
despite serious reservations -- took part in the Civil G8, 
particularly after Pamfilova added human rights issues to 
that event's agenda.  Some found common ground in "The Other 
Russia" forum, although these included radical elements which 
do not share democratic values, while others who continue to 
view themselves as opposition parties, including Yabloko and 
SPS, opted out of the event.  In the current political 
atmosphere, all of these Russian democratic and politically 
independent entities represent
 a small percentage of the 
population even in the best of circumstances, and their 
continued infighting further hampers them. 
BURNS

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