Russia's Putin to meet with NGOs ahead of G8 summit
Russian leader Vladimir Putin will meet Tuesday in Moscow with representatives of non-governmental organizations attending a two-day forum in the run-up to a summit of leaders from the industrialized world later this month.
The organizers said the forum, the Civil G8-2006, would discuss matters of concern for the international community ahead of the July 15-17 meeting, adding that NGOs could draft proposals to be considered when setting out agendas for further the Group of Eight summits.
Over 700 people representing prominent rights organizations, including the International Helsinki Group, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Charities Aid Foundation, and others, are expected to attend the NGO forum.
A Kremlin source said Putin would share with the participants Russia's views on issues included in the agenda of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, such as education and the efforts to combat disease, and would talk about the role of NGOs, which have been subject to some criticism this year, in the country.
"The participants [of the meeting] will exchange opinions on the future of NGOs in Russia and their significant contribution to development of civil society and strengthening of democracy in the country," the source said adding that a new law on public organizations would be the focus of the discussion.
The new law, which came into effect in April, set more stringent and complicated financial reporting requirements for NGOs and has been criticized in the West and liberal groups in Russia as being too restrictive.
Lawmakers and political scientists in Russia have claimed that NGOs helped "color revolutions" in neighboring ex-Soviet countries, particularly Ukraine and Georgia, which swept away the ruling elite in favor of West-leaning authorities in 2004 and 2003.
But Russia has been consistently defending the new legislation saying that it had been prepared with recommendations of European legal experts and had been thoroughly studied by the Council of Europe's officials.
Russia is presiding over the club of rich nations this year and the leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and Italy will be joining Putin in St. Petersburg for Russia's debut summit.