Civil G8 2006

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Ella Pamfilova at the “Moscow Echo” radio station. Problems of G8 countries and NGOs cooperation


Ella Pamfilova, the chairman of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Counsel under the President of the RF, coordinator of the CivilG8-2006 working group is in the studio of the radio station “Echo of Moscow”.

Air presenters are Natella Boltyanskaya, Pavel Bardin.

N. Boltyanskaya – You are listening to the “Echo of Mosow”, together with Pavel Bardin we greet Ella Pamfilova in our studio. Good afternoon, Ella Alexandorovna.

P. Bardin – Good afternoon.

E. Pamfilova – Good afternoon. Nice to be here.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – So, CivilG8, first President screwed non-governmental organizations as head as he could, now he will honor this forum with his presence. Is it a project by Kremlin?

E. PAMFILOVA – I have been hearing the words “project by Kremlin” for so long. First I got offended. I thought: “How can it be that me and my colleagues from public organizations, we were getting together, thinking over the way it should be. And then everyone says that it is project by Kremlin”. Now I come to like it. Let everyone think that it is done by Kremlin, it would be great if every Kremlin project will be like that one, will be fantastic. I mean it is a very good project. You know. I won’t be too modest, the project is outstanding. When we learnt that it is Russia’s presidency, we remembered that president country is holding consultations with NGOs within their country, with NGOs from G8 countries. So we thought whether to bring the representatives or not. We decided to follow other countries’ examples – like Canada, UK. The only country that ignored the process is the USA, they did not have consultations with NGOs. So we decided upon that and offered it to Kremlin and we were glad that Kremlin supported us.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – But Ms. Pamfilova, at the same time we know about the idea to hold another, unofficial summit “Aother Russia”.

E. PAMFILOVA – These are completely different things, why are you mixing them up. I am sorry, they are different. What are you talking about?

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – I am taking about the appeals not to take part as they can be seen as unfriendly relationships.

E. PAMFILOVA – I do not know who said it. We welcome everyone who wants to participate. Our Forum is unprecedented, and it is really public. We have so many International Organizations’ leaders coming which means that they acknowledged us. Besidesm\, there are many Russian Organizations. There are those whop support political opposition and they are going to participate in the forum “Another Russia”. They differ in the status and format. Our forum is international. We discuss global problems here, which also include the problems of Russia but in the international context. We take into account opinions of NGO communities from all over the world. We have representatives from 58 counties. The other forum is a political undertaking. There are no politicians or officials among our participants. In our case NGO representatives communicate with each and make their conclusions. They will have both politicians and public representatives, which support this or that political group or constitute political opposition. That’s the difference.

P. BARDIN – I invite the listeners to take part in the conversation with Ms Pamfilova.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – Ms Pamfilova, by the way, there is information that the foreign NPO in Russia cannot get registered due to some technical problems with the papers and their bad-quality translation. This information was today in our air. For example, Lubov Vinogradova, the leader of the Human Rights Research Center in Russia, says that the papers are there for more that a month and re-registration does not take place. What about this?

E. PAMFILOVA – I know this situation as I deal with this situation myself and we agreed with Vinogradova that we will help if the encounter difficulties. There are difficulties with the law, not even the law itself but sub-laws, there are many small details. That’s why we already organized two trainings exclusively for Russian public organization to get them ready to deal with the law. We have direct contacts with Mr. Jafyarov. I think we’ll solve these problems as the existence of the foreign public organizations in Russia is the case of honor for Russia itself as they did a lot of good.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – Let’s listen to the phone calls. By the way, Ella Alexandorovna, here is the question that is literary on the first page of your leaflet. Will the public wave break at the officious wall. Your short answer; yes or no?

E. PAMFILOVA – We’ll see.


E. PAMFILOVA – Why do you get surprised? I am sorry, do you want me to tell you ahead that everything will be good? I cannot say it. But if we did not believe in what we do, there would be no point in fighting. We gathered huge power, only think of that – 58 countries, more than 300 public organizations who treat it seriously, not to let this wave break.


E. PAMFILOVA – We are doing serious work and we forming some issues and we already work with our colleagues from Germany, discussing the issues for the next year, as some of them were not included in this year agenda. Besides the energy security, education and infectious disease control, we discussed the problem of human security, the balance between antiterrorism activity and human rights, then ecology, poverty. We discussed them all in March. We work at that the G8 leaders will consider the issues that trouble people all over the world. Not only those of their own countries. But I cannot say now whether it will work or not. It depends a lot on how professional our work will be.

P. BARDIN – we would like to know if our listeners like it.

KONSTATIN – can I ask a question?

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – Yes, please.

KONSTANTIN – I would like to ask about army service, can I ask about its cancellation?

E. PAMFILOVA – You can ask about whatever you want!

KONSTANTIN – I am asking.

E. PAMFILOVA – Where? Are you asking now?

P.BARDIN – Do you mean forum?

KONSTANTIN – And now, and the meeting so to say.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – he means forum

P. BARDIN – Thank you.

E. PAMFILOVA – There should be no confusion. The Forum format is the CivilG8 project, and it implies public accompaniment of the Summit, that is the leaders discuss the problems common to G8 countries, not only the domestic problems in Russia. We were often suspected in discussion of the NGO law or human rights. But we are not deviating from any problem. That’s why we arrange additional round tables, where we could discuss not only energy security, education and infectious disease control but also human rights and this table was very powerful. The work is being carried out in four directions at this sector. Mostly they initiated by our centers, including human rights activists. Centers “Demos”, “Public Verdict”, “Memorial” and others formed the issues as problems of migration, public control over law machinery, human rights. I do not set the priorities or topics, it is not my task, I provide for the space to let it happen, to see many different points of view.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – Organizational task?

E. PAMFILOVA – Yes, their task is to discuss, mine is to provide the possibility for this discussion to happen. As I am the coordinator and the President took the responsibility to provide public accompaniment of the occasion. So I am as a coordinator, organize it. Even if I have my point of view I do not interfere, I just let reveal what has to bevrevealed.

P.BARDIN – Public moderator.

E. PAMFILOVA – Yes, to certain extent, technical moderator.

P.BARDIN – We have an interesting message from Vladimir from Moscow – Dear Ella Alexandorovna, do you believe that such a conference taking place in Russia, not in the USA, where these events do not take place, shows a better situation with the human rights in our country?

E. PAMFILOVA – No, I do not think that at all.

P.BARDIN – It seems that the smile Vladimir was writing this e-mail with got reflected in his message.

E. PAMFILOVA – It is quite understandable, we are smiling too. We have the problems but other countries pay attention to that too. I know that Tony Blair and Chirac had and have meetings. Merkel is paying big attention to that. I think that Russia should not loose any opportunity to strengthen and develop public organizations here. We have more than 130 organizations, these are people who came from Russian regions. I would like them to establish contacts with their foreign colleagues. We have more than 300 representatives coming. The mentality of the people who were born in democratic countries can help a lot our organizations, especially regional ones, to believe in their abilities and possibilities to stand for people’s rights. We are trying as we have lot of accuses of not being democratic.

Listener (Yekaterinburg) – In opinion my opinion, human rights activity turn into business of the officials, at least in Yekaterinburg, where official learnt to convert their authorities in human rights grants given to their “pocket’ organization, so that they get the money.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – the idea is clear. Ella Alexanderovna, your answer?

E. PAMFILOVA – First of all officials are of government, they maybe independent but they are still governmental law machinery. On the federal level. Mr. Lukin is still a governmental human rights activist. As for public organization, nongovernmental who deal with the advocacy, this is a different situation, there are different organizations and there are many who help real people.

N.BOLTYANSKAYA – Ella Alexandorovna, is the process seems to be neglected, today lots of Westerners say that the democracy in Russia is deteriorating. Moreover, many of Russians think the same. Do you think we’ll be able to break it?

E. PAMFILOVA – You many of Russians do not think the same. Let’s face it the opinion we have, as people of democratic values… Human rights activists, they represent the opinion of…

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – of the minority?

E. PAMFILOVA – of the minority and very little minority.

N. BOLTYANSKAY – So you share this position as well?

E. PAMFILOVA – I share the position, as a person of democratic values I do my best to promote democracy in Russia, to support the freedom of speech, I do not even want to talk about that , all my efforts are for that. But to speak that the majority thinks the same is of no use. Maybe the root of the officials’ arbitraries is in that people do not believe in self organization, in the possibility to influence the quality of the Government. As for democracy deterioration, I do not agree with that as we never had democracy in Russia. Being a democrat of the first wave, I communicate with the democrats who made fortunes, names, careers out of democracy at the beginning of the 90s. The honest ones, so to say democratic romantics were pushed out from the opposition.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – SO as somebody from the audience mentioned there is no threat to the Civil Society as there is no civil society.

E. PAMFILOVA – I think that there are threats to democracy but to speak that there used to a wonderful democracy and now there is not – I do not agree with it. I think that there has been democratic problems, the situation was bad in some spheres now it is bad in other spheres, if we weigh all the pros and cons, we cannot say that there is a progress but there is now sliding back.

VLADIMIR – I would like to ask a specific question, I saw that such organizations as Green Peace are taking part in the Forum. As far as I know Green Peace is actively against transgenetic organisms, transgenetic food. But I am a geneticist, and I know that these questions should be solved on other levels. And what is being done now…

N.BOLTYANSKAYA – please make your question short as we have lots of calls.

VLADIMIR – I am concerned if this question is raised at the forum, because what is now being done as opposition to the biotechnology reminds me…

N. BOLTYANSKAYA - Yes, it is clear. Ella Alexnadorovna?

E. PAMFILOVA – You struck the point. The topic touches this issue “Ecology, the problems of international cooperation to maintain biodiversity, to prevent the spread of the genetically modified products” This is topic is what forum directly works at. We gathered very good specialists, with different points of view, for the tow days this topic will be discussed. I think it is very important.

P. BARDIN – Ms Pamfilova, I have a question. Personally, I an concerned with the democracy deterioration that may happen even within next month. Now the President is going to visit your forum, there foreign participants, all is fine. But when the G8 Summit is over, will the attitude to the public organizations change?

E. PAMFILOVA – First, you should see who takes part in it. We invited everyone who wanted to come, the advocates, who can hardly be accused of loyalty towards government, and the problems that are going to be discussed are very acute and complicated. If I did not believe in it…The public accompaniment of the summit may change situation in Russia, to widen the democratic grounds, if I did not believe, I would not do anything. I think there are lots of problems with democracy and human rights in our country. Not because it was good before and bad not, because it was not ok before and it is not ok now, that is why I hope for this summit.

N.BOLTYANSKAYA – so the monthly plan would not be over with Bush’s departure.

E. PAMFILOVA – If it was a monthly plan, it would be ridiculous, without any respect towards ourselves. I think that it is just a start for our systematic work, to strengthen our connections, cooperation with International colleagues. I hope to have more possibilities and abilities.

P. BARDIN – so your hope is based on enthusiasm and not on facts?

E.PAMFILOVA – This faith is based on the faith in our own strength and the strength of my colleagues, NGO communities, which are strong, professional and respected by our foreign colleagues.

AUDIENCE, ABDULGAMID (Mahachkala) – What do you think about regional human rights activist who are pursued by the militia, they toss them up guns and drugs.

E.PAMFILOVA – Yes, you are right. It is especially bad in your region.

N.BOLTYANSKAYA – Mahachkala.

E.PAMFILOVA – Unfortunately, Dagestan has the highest level of corruption among officials and law enforcement bodies. We remember the last case when several people died. We are going to apply for the General Prosecutor. I think that this is a very disturbing situation, we won’t leave it without attention. We helped and will help further. I think it would be changed dramatically, but the problem is that human rights activists reveal the cases of bribes, stealing budget money, and they are pursued for that. We definitely have to protect them.

P.BARDIN – Will situation change after forum?

E.PAMFILOVA – It will not change in a day, because the level of corruption will not allow us to deal with this issue fast. Let’s not rely on false hopes, that when summit is over, then everything will be over or will be absolutely fine. It will be hard and there will be the same problems but I hope that there will be ways to deal with them more efficiently through cooperation. Then we’ll see the outcome. But we cannot promise anything.

N.BOLTYANSKAYA – Ella Pamfilova, chairman of the Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights Counsel under the President of the RF, coordinator of the CivilG8-2006 working group is on the “Echo of Moscow” air. Ella Alexandorovna, thank you very much and good luck!

E.PAMFILOVA – I wish you all good luck. Hopefully, finally we will respect ourselves and live well.

N. BOLTYANSKAYA – Thank you.

Expert opinion

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