06MOSCOW11252, RUSSIA: DAS KRAMER MEETINGS ON NGOS AND HUMAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11252 2006-10-06 07:26 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO1804
PP RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1252/01 2790726
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 060726Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3538
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 011252 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/05/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: DAS KRAMER MEETINGS ON NGOS AND HUMAN 
RIGHTS 
 
REF: ST PETERSBURG 00554 
 
Classified By: DCM Daniel Russell: 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary:  EUR DAS David Kramer reinforced US 
concerns over NGO re-registration and encouraged Human Rights 
Ombudsman Lukin to finalize details of an "unofficial" human 
rights/democracy dialogue.  Both Lukin and Public Chamber 
member Nikonov acknowledged bureaucratic difficulties and 
endorsed the Public Chamber initiative to postpone the 
October 18 re-registration deadline. NDI, IRI, and AmCham 
representatives provided different perspectives on the 
re-registration, but all urged the US not to publicly react 
until the final process, including appeals, had run its 
course. Lukin blamed ethnic violence in Kondopoga on official 
indifference and corruption, exacerbated by an influx of 
migrants from the Caucasus.  Human Rights Watch (HRW) noted a 
reduced, but consistent, pattern of abuses in Chechnya. 
Lukin's October 10-12 visit to Washington is another 
opportunity to underscore concerns over the NGO law and urge 
a postponement of the re-registration deadline.  The 
Ambassador also raised this in his October 5 meeting with the 
Chairwoman of the President's Council on Civil Society and 
Human Rights (septel).  End Summary. 
 
2.  (SBU)  During his October 2-4 visit to Moscow, EUR DAS 
David Kramer discussed implementation of the re-registration 
of foreign NGOs, trendlines in Russia's democratic 
development, and progress in establishing an "unofficial" 
US-Russia human rights dialogue with a range of officials and 
NGO representatives, including Human Rights Ombudsman 
Vladimir Lukin, National Democratic Institute Director Mary 
O'Hagan, International Republican Institute Director Joe 
Johnson, American Chamber of Commerce President Andrew 
Somers, Human Rights Watch Allison Gill and Aleksandr Petrov, 
and Public Chamber member Vyacheslav Nikonov. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
Democracy/Human Rights Dialogue - Update 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Lukin reiterated that FM Lavrov and Presidential 
Foreign Policy Advisor Prikhodko endorsed Lukin's 
participation in a new "unofficial" dialogue on democracy and 
human rights, following agreement between the Ombudsman and 
Carnegie Center over the number of officials participating 
and their capacity.  The goal is to exchange views between 
informed US and Russian experts on civil society, democracy, 
human rights, and other issues of mutual concern and then to 
present conclusions to both governments.  If officials were 
also serving as participants, Lukin stated, the point of the 
process would be undercut.  The GOR sought a group of 
individuals, blessed by the two Presidents, to carry out a 
dialogue with a very limited number of officials serving as 
"observers," with Lukin suggesting Ambassadors.  Lukin said 
that he and Carnegie had not vetted candidates yet.  Any 
participant should agree to respect the private nature of the 
meetings and to limit press to mutually agreed upon 
statements. 
 
4.  (C)  Lukin agreed to meet with DAS Kramer in Washington 
during his October 10-12 consultations, in order to discuss 
in greater detail the dialogue's modalities and how the 
Presidents could launch the endeavor.  He welcomed an 
opportunity to meet with U/S Burns, if available.  DAS Kramer 
noted that the US was comfortable with the broad parameters 
of the dialogue and encouraged Lukin to finalize the 
structure. 
 
---------------- 
NGO Registration 
---------------- 
 
5.  (C)  NDI and IRI representatives described their 
organizations as in the "cross-hairs" of the re-registration 
process, with NDI having submitted its package last week and 
IRI just completing its papers.  Both are potentially subject 
to a suspension of activities on October 19 if the Federal 
Registration Service takes the full 30 days to review the 
documents.  (Separately, Human Rights Watch noted that FRS 
officials indicated its application would be rejected -- on 
the grounds that it was not presented in a plastic folder, as 
required.)  While AmCham's Somers predicted a routine 
re-registration of his organization and highlighted the 
efforts of the FRS to conduct outreach to the American NGO 
community, he acknowledged that increased scrutiny would be 
devoted to groups focused on the promotion of human rights. 
 
6.  (C)  NDI, IRI, and HRW flagged that the re-registration 
was the beginning, not the end, of the process, with the 
first submission of future programming due on October 30. 
 
MOSCOW 00011252  002 OF 003 
 
 
HRW stressed that "it was anyone's guess" as to the level of 
detail the GOR authorities were seeking.  At best, IRI 
predicted a need to hire an extra staff member to complete 
the paperwork associated with the new process; at worst, 
Johnson warned of the beginning of the end of political party 
programming, with some of his staff members already searching 
out alternate employment.  NDI O'Hagan noted more pressure 
from local officials directed against participants in NDI 
programs, a phenomenon IRI said it was not
 experiencing, with 
O'Hagan adding that NDI would begin to consider holding some 
events outside Russia.  Kramer briefed on continuing US 
efforts to influence the implementation of the law, and urged 
the NGOs to remain in close contact with the Embassy. 
 
7.  (C)  NDI, IRI, and AmCham all counseled against public US 
condemnation of the GOR in the event that certain NGOs failed 
to be registered by October 18.  It was important, they all 
stressed, for the process to run its course, for the 
organizations (if rejected) to file appeals, and for the US 
to underscore its belief in the rule of law and its 
expectation that Russia live up to its international (e.g. 
OSCE, COE) commitments.  Only if the appeal process failed to 
reinstate an organization's registration, they noted, would 
it be appropriate for a sharp and public reaction.  AmCham's 
Somers stressed that his constituents -- primarily the 
business community -- do not want a politicized or 
high-profile approach.  The GOR, he warned, is not in a mood 
to care about bad headlines in the West; instead, the AmCham 
believed -- and was seeking to document through surveys -- 
that American companies were inculcating Western values 
through their investment and engagement in Russia.  American 
business representatives, he noted, remain perplexed by the 
worsening bilateral relations, surprised by the imposition of 
sanctions on Sukhoi and Rosoboronexport, and concerned by the 
GOR drift to reclassifying segments of the economy as 
"strategic."  Somers reiterated his community's conclusion 
that the more the international community engaged Russia and 
absorbed it into international trade regimes, the greater the 
chance of disseminating Western values. 
 
8.  (C)  While NDI and IRI characterized the Ombudsman as not 
interested in the re-registration process, Lukin told Kramer 
that his ability to act was limited by his mandate to respond 
to gross violations of human rights or to petitions brought 
by citizens and organizations; to date, he stressed, no 
organization had approached him with concerns.  Sitting on 
the board of an as-yet-unregistered NGO, Lukin said that he 
believed bureaucracy and corruption were the primary factors 
in the sluggish work of the FRS.  Having been handed a 
political hot potato, he noted, the instinct within the FRS 
was to go slow and stretch out the process until the true 
intent of the political leadership was divined. 
 
9.  (C)  Inevitably, Lukin said, corruption played a factor, 
with FRS officers "directing" companies to law firms that 
provide "facilitation" of the registration process.  (In 
fact, such firms exist, and they reportedly are requesting 
10,000 euros.)  Leading human rights organizations in the 
North Caucasus had sent a letter highlighting registration 
difficulties to the regional Ombudsman, who was charged with 
preparing concrete data.  If any GOR actions appeared 
politically motivated, Lukin affirmed that he would take up 
the case.  His private assessment was that smaller, 
provincial organizations would bear the brunt of any 
difficulties.  Many had fallen into the habit of "ignoring 
formalities," with some institutionally unprepared to meet 
legitimate GOR demands for accounting.  Lukin agreed to meet 
with IRI Craner and NDI Wallock when they visit Moscow 
October 17-18. 
 
10.  (C)  Lukin acknowledged the initial confusion, 
highlighted to Kramer by NDI, over whether October 18 was a 
deadline for submitting registration documents or a drop dead 
date by which all organizations needed to be registered.  As 
a result, he privately endorsed the Public Chamber's October 
3 initiative to secure an extension of the deadline and 
accepted Kramer's arguments on the damage to Russia's 
reputation that a cancellation of NGO programming would 
produce.  Public Chamber International Relations Chairman 
Nikonov told Kramer he was optimistic that the GOR would 
extend the deadline and perhaps eliminate it altogether, 
based on conversations he had with FM Lavrov, as well as 
Presidential aides Yastrzhembsky and Prikhodko.  He noted 
that the timing of the EU-Russia summit on October 20 
increased the chances of GOR responsiveness to the letter 
sent by Public Chamber President Velikhov to FRS Head 
Movchan, since Putin would not want to be embarrassed by a 
row over NGOs. 
 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
MOSCOW 00011252  003 OF 003 
 
 
Xenophobia -- Results of Kondopoga Investigation 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
11.  (C)  Lukin said that he was not sure whether xenophobia 
was growing, or simply growing more visible.  Incidents that 
were classified as hooliganism in the past were now being 
prosecuted as hate crimes.  He reviewed the results of his 
visit to Kondopoga, noting the chain of events (reftel) that 
culminated in the deaths of three.  Lukin attributed the 
outbreak of violence to the "absolute inactivity" of the 
local police, who were "bought or disinterested;" to the 
weakness of local authorities, who had allowed six years of 
self-government to erode all governing institutions; and to 
the tensions generated by an influx of migrants from the 
North Caucasus.  In contrast to previous migrants from the 
Caucasus, who had intermarried and been absorbed into local 
society, newer arrivals were more likely to form their own 
criminal gangs and reside within their own communities.  He 
contrasted Kondopoga to the capital of Karelia, where a more 
active police force had prevented violence.  Lukin was quick 
to note that Russia was experiencing the same phenomena 
confronting other European countries and the lesson he drew 
was the need to strengthen state institutions.  Lukin 
acknowledged the role of Aleksandr Potkin, formerly press 
secretary of the ultra-nationalist Pamyat society and current 
 
SIPDIS 
leader of the Society for the Prevention of Illegal 
Migration, in instigating violence.  While three criminal 
cases had been opened against him, Potkov was careful to hug 
the outer limits of the law and Lukin was not confident that 
he would be prosecuted successfully. 
 
-------------------- 
Chechnya: HRW Update 
-------------------- 
 
12.  (SBU)  Human Rights Watch told Kramer that although 
Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov had become less 
involved directly in human rights abuses, those under his 
control continue to commit them.  HRW's Petrov, who had just 
returned from Chechnya, pointed out that while there 
continues to be a pattern of abuse and a systematic use of 
torture, the number of disappearances and murders appears to 
have gone down.  He highlighted that security forces commit 
human rights abuses.  Signs are growing, however, of an 
increasing divergence between the Russian forces and those 
loyal to Kadyrov, as well as within pro-Moscow Chechen 
security forces. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
13.  (C)  Lukin's Oc
tober 10-12 visit to Washington provides 
another opportunity to reinforce with a sympathetic and 
reasonably influential interlocutor our strong concerns over 
the implementation of the NGO re-registration, while 
advancing the establishment of an "informal" but 
GOR-sanctioned human rights dialogue.  The Ambassador meets 
with the President's Council on Civil Society and Human 
Rights Chairwoman Ella Pamfilova on October 5 and will review 
outstanding concerns of US NGOs and encourage her to secure 
an extension of the October 18 registration deadline. 
 
14.  (U)  DAS Kramer did not have an opportunity to clear 
this message. 
BURNS

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