06MOSCOW11275, RUSSIA: NGO REGISTRATION UPDATE; DEADLINE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSCOW11275 2006-10-06 14:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO2451
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #1275/01 2791428
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061428Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3574
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 011275 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2016 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA: NGO REGISTRATION UPDATE; DEADLINE 
EXTENSION? 
 
REF: MOSCOW 11252 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns: 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1. (C)  Summary:  In an October 5 conversation with Russian 
Deputy Foreign Minister Yakovenko, the Ambassador urged the 
GOR to extend an October 18 deadline for the re-registration 
of foreign NGOs and underscored the damage that would result 
from a suspension in their external programs.  Yakovenko said 
the GOR understood, with several well-placed officials 
signaling that either the deadline will be extended or NGOs 
permitted to conduct their programming after it expires. 
Although many have applied or are close to applying for 
re-registration, as many as 27 of the 29 unregistered U.S. 
NGOs that the Embassy has tracked are potentially vulnerable 
to a suspension of activity on October 18, with high-profile 
human rights organizations attracting closer scrutiny.  The 
Ambassador will continue to press for a deadline extension, 
and we urge Washington to repeat this message with Human 
Rights Ombudsman Lukin on October 11.  End Summary 
 
------------------------------------- 
GOR Shifting Gears: Deadline May Slip 
------------------------------------- 
 
2.  (C)  In an October 5 conversation with Deputy Foreign 
Minister Yakovenko, the Ambassador warned of the negative 
consequences for the GOR's reputation if the U.S. NGO 
community was shuttered on October 18.  The Ambassador 
referred to the October 3 letter from Public Chamber 
President Velikhov to the Federal Registration Service, 
appealing for an extension in the deadline.  If the GOR did 
not extend the deadline, the Ambassador urged the authorities 
to revert to FRS Movchan's prior interpretation of the NGO 
law, according to which programs could proceed while the 
registration packages were being scrutinized.  Yakovenko said 
he understood the magnitude of the issue, undertook to get 
back to the Ambassador, and recognized that the first-time 
implementation of the law had presented bureaucratic 
difficulties. 
 
3.  (C)  In meetings with U.S. officials and in separate 
developments over the course of the last week, there have 
been signals that the GOR will modify its October 18 deadline: 
 
-- Chairwoman of the Presidential Administration's Council 
for Civil Society and Human Rights Ella Panfilova 
emphatically told the Ambassador on October 5 that "nothing 
would happen" on October 18, and promised that the deadline 
would be extended or the NGOs would otherwise be able to 
continue their activities (septel). 
 
-- The October 3 letter from Public Chamber President 
Velikhov blamed bureaucratic impediments on the failure of 
prominent international NGOs to re-register and appealed for 
the deadline to be extended. 
 
-- Human Rights Ombudsman Lukin shared his concerns over the 
implementation of the law with EUR DAS Kramer on October 4 
(reftel), and noted his private endorsement of the Public 
Chamber initiative to extend the deadline. 
 
-- Kremlin-connected Public Chamber Member Vyacheslav Nikonov 
asserted to Kramer on October 4 that the deadline would be 
extended or abolished; in part, he noted, because of Putin's 
October 20 participation in the EU-Russia summit and the 
desire to keep this issue off the agenda. 
 
------------------------------- 
U.S. NGO Registration Scorecard 
------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU)  We do not have comprehensive data on the total 
number of U.S. NGOs required to re-register by October 18. 
While Federal Registration Service (FRS) officials have 
claimed that there are 200-500 foreign NGOs active in Russia, 
there is no explanation for the wide divergence in statistics 
and no breakdown by nationality.  Also included in the FRS 
figures are foreign adoption agencies, with 26 American 
adoption agencies having successfully re-registered.  While 
the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) has aggressively 
informed its members of the evolution in registration 
requirements, it does not maintain a separate list of NGOs. 
Instead, the Embassy has closely monitored the registration 
fortunes of the 29 NGOs receiving grants or sub-grants from 
USAID and PRM, which capture the most prominent U.S. NGOs 
active in Russia, in addition to non-USAID recipients Ford 
Foundation, Carnegie Center, and AmCham. 
 
5.  (SBU)  Out of this pool of 32 NGOs, three (CIPE, Project 
Harmony, Ford Foundation) have been re-registered; 13 have 
 
MOSCOW 00011275  002 OF 002 
 
 
submitted their registration packages as of October 6; 14 
have told us that they will file within the next two weeks, 
with the status of two other NGOs unclear. 
 
6.  (SBU)  Since the FRS has up to 30 days to review the 
applications, as many as 27 of the 29 unregistered U.S. NGOs 
potentially face a suspension of their external activities on 
October 18.  While the FRS has promised rapid turn-around for 
the registration of some NGOs, including AmCham, others -- 
such as the more controversial National Democratic Institute 
-- have received no feedback since filing their applications 

and others, including the Charities Aid Foundation, continue 
to endure prolonged scrutiny by FRS officials, who remain 
focused on picayune details.  While political sensitivities 
play a role in this process, so do corruption and 
bureaucratic incompetence.  On the positive side of the 
ledger, many of the NGOs contacted report that interactions 
with the FRS in recent weeks have gone more smoothly; as 
well, FRS officials have agreed to answer legal questions 
posed by USAID and submitted by AmCham, and to post the 
answers on their website so as to ensure a uniform response 
to all NGO applicants. 
 
7.  (C)  A variety of factors accounts for the late filing of 
most U.S. NGOs: many initially believed that October 18 was a 
deadline for submission, and not a drop-dead date for 
registration; some adopted the strategy of waiting and seeing 
how a larger NGO (such as Ford Foundation) fared, as a 
lessons-learned model; others were stymied by the 
bureaucratic requirements to locate and notarize founding 
documents and charter member death certificates, with 
low-level FRS officials sometimes bouncing packages on 
technical or specious grounds; with some of the NGOs that 
have not filed to date being advised by their Russian legal 
counsel that they have nothing to fear.  Once it became clear 
that October 18 was a registration deadline, the Embassy -- 
in coordination with AmCham -- has attempted to contact all 
known U.S. NGOs active in Russia to encourage a rapid filing 
of the application packages. 
 
8.  (SBU)  The results of a suspension of external activities 
on October 18 would, in some cases, be dramatic and contrary 
to the interests of GOR entities: exchange programs would 
grind to a halt, Financial Sector Volunteer Corps assignments 
to the Central Bank would cease, child welfare programs would 
be cut, recovery programs in the North Caucasus would shut 
down, and important HIV/AIDs collaboration -- including with 
the Ministry of Defense -- would be suspended.  The 
cancellation of the bread and butter seminars and 
conferences, upon which Carnegie and others depend, would 
abruptly terminate high-visibility platforms for US-Russian 
exchanges and reverberate throughout the U.S. foreign policy 
establishment and Congress. 
 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C)  While the GOR remains committed to controlling the 
activities of foreign, particularly rights-based NGOs, there 
appears to be increasing interest in avoiding a train wreck 
that the suspension of activities of non-registered NGOs 
would cause on October 18.  The Ambassador will continue to 
reinforce the need for an extension of the deadline with 
senior GOR officials, and we encourage Washington to 
reiterate the same message to Lukin during his October 10-12 
consultations in Washington. 
BURNS

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