Volgograd Evening News, December 25, 2001

A Call for More Meetings Between the Governmental Leaders and NGOís

[Translaterís Note - In his December 1, 2001 newsletter the director of the Volgograd Forum, Alexander Yevreinov, reported that on November 13, local NGO representatives met at the Volgograd Forum to formulate a coordinated position to present in Moscow at the forthcoming session on government and nonprofits sponsored by President Vladimir Putin.
            The agreed upon directive to the Volgograd representative, Inna Prikhozhan,  emphasized at least two issues:

1)   press for tax treatment of NGOís similar to the treatment in the West where NGOís are exempt from income tax and where contributions are deductible from income;

2)   demand the government cease controlling and subsidizing certain mass media outlets and demand equal treatment of independent outlets.

Below is a report on the follow-up meeting held in Volgograd upon the return of the representatives from president Putinís Civic Forum in Moscow last December on NGOís.]
            The last meeting of the Volgograd Forum, the independent , open discussion group established in 1994, was devoted to a report on  and discussion of the results of Moscow Civic forum.  As you recall, President Vladimir Putin made a personal appearance at the Civic Forum.  He delivered a detailed address and in general shown the spotlight on of the so-called third sector-that is on non-commercial associations.
The delegation from our city at the Civic Forum was headed by the President of the Center of Civic Education (CCE), Inna Anatolievna Prikhozan. Incidentally, Inna Anatolievna, was in the eye of the storm at the Civic Forum as she served on the organizing committee with only  three other regional representatives.

The idea of such a forum came as a surprise to governmental authorities, the president of CCE noted in her impressions.  Government officials looked at us as people from another planet.
            Here in brief is the top priority of this businesslike Moscow undertaking: to challenge the government not only a dialogue, but to compel it to cooperation, to develop general rules of the game on a civic playing field.  What is the third sector?- that is a civic organizations? This appears to be terra incognito for Russian observers, unexplored territory, and consequently calling for creative energy.
In our oblast there are registered about 1880 similar organizations- observed the head of the City administrationís department of social-political relations for working with the civic society groups, I.V. Lapshinova.  But the majority of such organizations  exist only on paper.  Notwithstanding such a deplorable state, it was decided to conduct another forum on January 26, 2002 at a round table discussion where local public officials would meet with whomever, the  association of antiquarians, or the society for the defense of hamsters.
            The discussion must be substantive, asserted I.V. Lipshinova- one must be attentive to the governmentís views, present fresh ideas, the implementation of which serves the interests of the local population.
            We will wait for January and then take a reckoning whether the implementation of a realistic conception of cooperation between government officials on one side and ecologists, beekeepers, dog breeders and other club joiners on the other side can be worked out.

Leonid Schevchenko


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