06MOSCOW10842, GOR ENFORCES NGO REGISTRATION DEADLINE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW10842 2006-09-27 05:02 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1328
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #0842/01 2700502
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 270502Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3020
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 010842 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/RUS, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/21/2016 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAID PREF KDEM PREL RS
SUBJECT: GOR ENFORCES NGO REGISTRATION DEADLINE 
 
REF: MOSCOW 9565 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR WILLIAM J. BURNS.  REASONS:  1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
 
------- 
Summary 
------- 
 
1. (C) Russian Federal Registration Service officials have 
clarified that foreign NGOs that have not been re-registered 
by October 18 will have to stop their external activities, 
but will be able to continue "internal operations."  NGOs are 
hurrying to submit their paperwork, but according to 
registration service data and our own informal poll, very few 
have done so.  Although some have benefitted from individual 
consultations with the Federal Registration Service, NGO 
representatives complain that they are being forced to 
prepare huge packages of "unnecessary documents," which can 
be filed only once a week. Those that have submitted 
successfully have usually had to correct minor technical 
problems identified by the registration service before 
applications are formally accepted. Ambassador continue to 
press senior officials to avoid any suspension of NGO 
external activities, given the complexities of the 
registration process. We are also urging US-based NGOs to 
submit their applications before the end of September.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
------------------------------------ 
September 20 Meeting with Zhafyarov 
------------------------------------ 
 
2.  (C) In a September 20 meeting with the Mission, Federal 
Registration Service (FRS) Chief of the Directorate of 
Political Parties, Non-Governmental, Regional, and Other 
Organizations Aleksey Zhafyarov clarified comments made by 
FRS Director Movchan in an August 30 meeting with Ambassador 
(reftel).  (In that meeting, Movchan had said those NGOs that 
make a good-faith effort to be registered by October 18 would 
be issued a voucher that would allow them to continue to 
operate beyond October 18 while their registration process 
continued.  According to Zhafyarov, those NGOs not registered 
by October 18 would only be permitted to conduct "internal 
activities" until all of the registration requirements of the 
NGO law were met.  By "internal activities," he meant 
operations necessary to keep the office running, like paying 
electricity bills and keeping staff on the payroll. 
 
3. (C) Zhafyarov suggested that "no one in the Russian 
government" would actively attempt to shutter or close bank 
accounts of unregistered NGOs that continue operating after 
the October 18 deadline, but the FRS was in no position to 
offer written assurance to that effect.  Zhafyarov added 
that, "of course," it was possible that landlords and banks 
might be uncomfortable working with unregistered NGOs.  We 
note that Zhafyarov had initially announced that NGOs would 
have to suspend activities at an AmCham forum September 14. 
His deputy Anatoliy Panchenko made similar statements in a 
separate public session with NGOs on September 19. 
 
4.  (C) Zhafyarov said he wanted to debunk the "myths" that 
if documents were rejected twice it would not be possible to 
apply again, and that no documents would be accepted after 
October 18. Neither are true, he said.  The FRS will continue 
to accept applications after the October 18 deadline and has 
one month to check the documents and include the organization 
into the Registry but he said, in practice, within 2-7 days 
the organization could expect a call from the FRS to discuss 
the application documents. 
 
5.  (C) Zhafyarov mentioned that each foreign NGO was 
entitled to register one and only one branch or 
representative office in Russia, insisting that this is what 
the new NGO law requires, and challenged any applicant to 
raise the issue in court.  He expressed his assurance that 
any court would side with the FRS interpretation, but would 
abide by any court decision to the contrary.  According to 
Zhafyarov, representative offices and branches are allowed to 
open "small offices" in the regions, and with a power of 
attorney, sign lease agreements and be able to function in 
the regions, but they need to register with the local tax 
service as "special branch offices." 
 
6.  (C) Zhafyarov said a working group will be meeting next 
week to develop instructions on what kind of information has 
to be included in the annual/quarterly and periodic reports 
required under the new law.  The working group will consist 
of representatives from the Public Chamber, Ella Pamfilov's 
Presidential Commission on Human Rights and Civil Society, 
 
MOSCOW 00010842  002 OF 003 
 
 
and the Tax Service.  He said their recommendations would be 
in place by mid- to late October. 
 
7.  (C) We reviewed Zhafyarov the process by which NGOs are 
registered in the U.S.  Zhafyarov seemed satisfied with the 
information, and agreed that the FRS would, as part of its 
effort to clarify the registration process, begin to post on 
its website authorita
tive answers to questions it was 
receiving from NGOs.  He stressed that it would be a good 
idea to put English translations of the NGO law, regulations, 
and forms on the FRS website to avoid confusion.  Zhafyarov 
urged interested U.S. organizations to collect questions from 
NGO representatives and e-mail them to the FRS website. 
 
--------------------------------------- 
September 21 One-On-One Sessions At FRS 
--------------------------------------- 
 
8.  (C) FRS has made some efforts to address NGO concerns 
about the difficulty in obtaining authoritative information. 
FRS now offers consultations three days a week and has also 
made staff available for Q&A sessions organized by others, 
such as AmCham. AmCham staff told us that only eight NGOs 
participated in the one-on-one sessions it organized at the 
FRS.  They were somewhat disappointed at the 
lower-than-expected turnout. 
 
9. (C) IRI told us on September 20 that it had planned to 
attend the session, but having received the application 
documents from their headquarters in the U.S., noticed a 
mistake and decided to fix it before submitting its 
application on September 25. 
 
------------- 
The Scorecard 
------------- 
 
10.  (C) As of September 19, only 28 foreign NGOs had been 
re-registered out of approximately 500, and 98 had applied. 
NGOs such as Ford Foundation, AmCham, Human Rights Watch, 
Carnegie Center, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without 
Borders still had not submitted their applications but expect 
to submit them shortly.  Although some have benefitted from 
individual consultations with the Federal Registration 
Service, NGO representatives continue to complain that they 
are being forced to prepare huge packages of "unnecessary 
documents." 
 
11.  (C) The FRS's "clarification" that foreign NGOs would 
have to be registered by the deadline or suspend their 
programs caught many off guard.  Several we have spoken to 
had been advised by FRS personnel that as long as their 
applications had been accepted by the deadline, they could 
continue working; therefore they assumed they could submit up 
until October 18.  Those NGOs are now scrambling to submit 
their applications as soon as possible, since the FRS can 
take up to 30 days to render its decision.  In canvassing 38 
U.S.-based NGOs receiving USG funding, we found two -- 
International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Project Harmony -- 
whose applications have been accepted by the Federal 
Registration Service.  Another 12 implementing 
U.S.Government-funded projects, among them NDI, IRI, 
ACDI/VOCA and World Vision, intend to submit their 
applications by the end of September, as do AmCham, Ford 
Foundation, Carnegie Center, and Human Rights Watch.  A 
handful of others expected to apply in October, closer to the 
deadline, when they received the documents from their 
headquarters necessary to complete their applications. 
 
12.  (C) Although the registration service has taken steps to 
be more transparent and helpful, such as agreeing to the 
one-on-one sessions, NGO representatives told us that 
frustrations with the FRS bureaucracy continued.  Despite the 
expanded consultation hours, the FRS continues to accept 
applications only on Wednesdays during a three-hour period. 
IRC Country Director Amir Omanovich said IRC's application 
was meticulously reviewed by FRS staff when it was submitted; 
then returned for minor wording changes.  These changes 
required the packet to be sent to IRC's New York headquarters 
via courier so it could be corrected, re-notarized and 
re-apostilled before being re-submitted.  Kharborovsk-based 
Winrock International submitted its documents to the FRS via 
courier on September 13.  A week later, the FRS called, 
saying the packet needed corrections and recommended that 
someone from Winrock make the seven-hour flight to Moscow to 
pick it up and then fly back to Moscow to re-submit it once 
corrections were made. 
 
13. (C) Carnegie's Rose Gottemoeller told us that the 
Center's staff was confident their documents package would be 
 
MOSCOW 00010842  003 OF 003 
 
 
approved, based on consultations with the FRS over the last 
several weeks.  Carnegie will submit its documents this week, 
after finding and notarizing founding documents from the N.Y. 
archives, certifying death certificates of original board 
members, and proving that Carnegie has a D.C.-based parent 
organization.  Gottemoeller was unaware of the possibility of 
a suspension of programming after October 18 which, she said 
would be a major blow to her organization. She noted that a 
consulting company "4 Business" was advertising assistance in 
completing the registration process for ten thousand Euros. 
 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
14. (C)  Zhafyarov's interpretation of the law, which was 
buttressed by an "informational communique" issued by the FRS 
September 20, is less compromising than that offered the 
Ambassador by Movchan and would leave those foreign NGOs not 
registered by October 18 unable to continue with programs 
underway until formally registered by the FRS. (The 
communique also explicitly prohibits funding from 
non-registered foreign NGOs to Russian NGOs.)  The FRS's 
timing of its clarification is less than ideal. With the FRS 
allowed up to thirty days to review applications, NGOs that 
did not apply by September 19 face a greater likelihood of 
having to suspend their activities an FRS decision is not 
made by October 18, or if the FRS finds significant problems 
with the application during its review.  As noted (septel), 
Ambassador raised this looming problem with Human Rights 
Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin September 22, underscoring that 
western reaction would view this as further GOR suppression 
of civil society.  Lukin agreed to intervene if his office 
received a formal, written complaint from the affected NGOs 
which they may be unwilling to do, as they are leery of 
potential GOR attention to their individual cases. 
Ambassador will bring the FRS's interpretation to the 
attention of Presidential Commission on Human Rights and 
Civil Society Director Pamfilova and DFM Yakovenko the week 
of September 25 
BURNS

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