07MOSCOW2062, AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES U.S. FUNDING OF NGOS WITH DFM

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2062 2007-05-04 13:44 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5793
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #2062/01 1241344
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041344Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9936
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 002062 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/04/2017 
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV EAID KDEM RS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES U.S. FUNDING OF NGOS WITH DFM 
YAKOVENKO 
 
Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns. 
Reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY:  U.S. assistance is intended to help Russia 
develop its governing institutions and not to interfere in 
Russian partisan politics, the Ambassador told DFM Aleksandr 
Yakovenko during a May 4 meeting.  Yakovenko said that the 
State Department's Supporting Human Rights and Democracy 
report had taken many in the GOR by surprise and was seen by 
some as a specific instruction for the U.S. to intervene in 
upcoming elections.  The Ambassador emphasized that that was 
a fundamental misreading of the report.  The Ambassador noted 
our concerns about the recent raid on Internews/the Educated 
Media Foundation and reiterated the need to resolve the issue 
quickly and positively.  In noting the potential bilateral 
gains in U.S. assistance, the Ambassador said that the U.S. 
was trying to align some of its modest assistance with the 
National Priority Projects.  Yakovenko said MFA continued to 
study how the GOR would structure its own foreign assistance 
programs and was interested in further discussions with the 
USG, including during his upcoming trip to the U.S. in the 
fall.  END SUMMARY. 
 
U.S. ASSISTANCE 
--------------- 
 
2.  (C) In a meeting with DFM Yakovenko to discuss U.S. 
assistance to Russia, the Ambassador said that reactions to 
the State Department's Supporting Human Rights and Democracy 
Report and press reporting had mischaracterized the 
objectives and obscured the facts on U.S. aid.  In FY2007, 
only a relatively small part of the USD 28 million assistance 
budget would be spent directly on political 
institution-building in Russia.  Those activities were 
intended to help develop democratic institutions and were 
undertaken with full transparency in conjunction with 
properly registered Russian NGOs and in full compliance with 
Russian law, the Ambassador emphasized.  The intent was to 
provide the benefit of U.S. experience, not to try to 
influence elections.  Much of the rest of U.S. assistance 
went toward promoting exchanges and other activities, such as 
professional training, not at all related to politics.  The 
Ambassador also said that if there were any questions about 
U.S. programs or the NGOs it supported, he would be ready to 
discuss them at anytime. 
 
3.  (C) Yakovenko said that the Supporting Human Rights and 
Democracy report surprised many in the GOR, who read it as an 
explicit statement of U.S. intent to intervene in Russia's 
domestic affairs.  With Duma and presidential elections 
approaching, the report's release had exacerbated Russian 
sensitivities.  It begged the question of Washington's 
intentions, he said.  If the report was not intended as a 
statement of U.S. interests in changing Russia's government, 
then it was poorly phrased.  He added that there had been no 
statement in the report that U.S.-funded activities were to 
be undertaken in compliance with the laws of the host 
country, an absence that had been noticed.  Welcoming the 
Ambassador's explanation, Yakovenko suggested that the U.S. 
carefully consider funding of NGOs involved in any political 
activities and be mindful of how such activities could be 
perceived.  U.S. work with organizations such as the Russian 
Foundation for Free Elections was helpful in showing the U.S. 
was balanced and not partisan in the organizations it 
supported, he noted.  The Ambassador said we were 
unapologetic about our programs or our commitment to 
democratic institution-building, but we would not do anything 
to violate Russian law or to engage in partisan politics. 
 
INTERNEWS/EMF 
------------- 
 
4.  (C) Turning to Internews/Educated Media Foundation (EMF), 
the Ambassador repeated our concerns that law enforcement 
agencies had overreacted in raiding the NGO and seizing 
equipment it needed to operate over customs violations. 
Internews/EMF had acknowledged the violation and was 
deliberately avoiding publicizing the issue in hopes of 
getting it resolved.  The Ambassador noted the need to 
resolve it quickly to avoid it becoming a bilateral irritant. 
 The longer it continued, without clarification from the 
Ministry of Internal Affairs on how the raid related to a 
relatively minor customs violation, the more it would appear 
to us that the GOR was seeking to close the NGO.  Yakovenko 
promised to inquire on the status of the case, and to try to 
get back to the Ambassador quickly with a clear explanation. 
 
ALIGNING U.S. AID AND RUSSIAN OBJECTIVES 
---------------------------------------- 
 
5.  (C) The U.S. was increasingly looking for opportunities 
 
MOSCOW 00002062  002 OF 002 
 
 
to align some of its small, remaining aid projects with the 
GOR's National Projects, the Ambassador said.  He suggested 
further discussions on how the modest U.S. assistance package 
could support the GOR's objectives in improving housing and 
social services for Russian citizens.  The Embassy was 
working with the staff of Fir
st Deputy Prime Minister 
Medvedev in organizing a seminar on home mortgages, and it 
was working with others in the GOR to use available funding 
to expand exchanges in education and health care. 
 
RUSSIAN THINKING ON ITS FOREIGN AID 
----------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C) Yakovenko said that the MFA was considering how best 
to structure the GOR's fledgling foreign aid programs. 
Various options were being discussed, including whether to 
create a small office within the MFA, to create a separate 
agency, or to fund a development bank.  For now, most of 
Russia's aid would continue to go through international 
organizations, particularly UN agencies.  Although Russian 
contributions were modest compared to other developed 
countries, they would be increasing in line with economic 
growth, Yakovenko said.  FM Lavrov was interested in 
developing public-private partnerships, and he had discussed 
the issue with about 25 of the largest Russian companies, 
Yakovenko added.  The companies were interested, especially 
as their global presence expanded.  The Ambassador suggested 
that the U.S. could be helpful and that the GOR could benefit 
from its experience.  Yakovenko said that he planned to be in 
New York in the fall for the UNGA, and that he would consider 
a trip to Washington to discuss the issue with USG officials 
and private-sector representatives. 
BURNS

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