"Deutsche Welle" - Interview with Ella Pamfilova
- The problems of human rights were recently discussed within the framework of the International NGO Forum. How do you consider the Russian NGO activities on this sphere?
- The “Civil G8” Forum was attended by more than 600 participants – 130 among them were representing Russian regions, more than a half – our colleagues from foreign and international NGOs. The Forum showed that the Russian NGOs are active and able to function. It was very important to show that we all have common problems and must not stay apart. We also think that NGOs give a good example to official structures.
- How many NGOs are there in Russia?
- We have no strict statistics unfortunately. But the problems that we have demand a wider number of NGOs. We need a more developed civil initiative and civil activeness. So, it’s a need to create conditions to develop it.
- Recently a new law regulating NGO activities was adopted. There were many critics about it. How real are the anxieties that it will toughen the conditions of foreign NGO activities in Russia?
- My position at that is very strict. I said during the first reading that it is most odious draft adopted by the Duma. I made all I could – I discussed the draft with the President together with my colleagues from human rights NGOs, trying to explain that it is impossible to adopt it in such form that it was at the time. The President agreed to make some amendments to the draft and now it changed seriously. And I can’t see any serious dangers in the today’s law. There are two chapters in the law about the using of this law and we deal now with the education of NGOs how to use the law and we also begin the monitoring of this law use.
As the President said, if we really see the law infringes the NGO possibilities and rights, there will be more amendments to it. It is very important for us and that’s why we follow the law use thoroughly.
Most important is to change by-laws. According to them every NGO will have to rights hundreds of pages of senseless reports. I think by the end of the year we’ll prepare our recommendations and I hope the President will agree.
- To what extend are the Mass Media free in Russia?
- We have various print editions and we write more critically about ourselves that foreign press. We have a free FM radio stations to say nothing of Internet, of course. As to TV, I think our federal television and all federal channels have changed negatively.
- When did it happen?
- During a few past years. But let’s no forget that we hadn’t free Mass Media even in the past. In early 1990 there was a sense of freedom, many young journalists, new editions and no one influenced another. After that some oligarchs started to buy Media, they even privatized federal TV channels. So. At this period there were many different Media but they had no freedom to act – they belonged to oligarchs. And of course, it was very interesting for our people to see and to listen how they are quarreling.
Today we need to change the situation about our TV, to create public TV. We have to change a lot in the political sphere – we have a very narrow spectrum of political discussion on the TV. We have no political concurrence and we have to develop it.
- Vladimir Putin spoke about a special model of the democracy in Russia, that should take into account the historic, demographic and social specifics. What does he mean and what democracy Russia really needs?
- I prefer to speak not about democracy, but about strictly formulated democratic principles. When the reforms began, Russia lost its sovereignty for many years to come. Our people survived the downfall of the country, they got a feeling of the wounded human dignity. We had neither independent politicians, nor independent businessmen.
So, these reforms didn’t correspond to the interests of the people living in Russia. And many of them associated the word “democracy” with such words as poverty, social inequality, corruption and crime.
I se a rather simple decision – to rehabilitate the idea of democracy. We need now to analyze the examples of another countries – such as Scandinavian states having high level of life. They don’t teach others how to build democracy, they show a good example of it. They sow that the democracy is not chaos and lack of rights, but the respect of human dignity. We need a democracy, independence and the respect of national interests in Russia.