#7 - JRL 2009-215 - JRL Home
November 23, 2009
[Medvedev] Opening Remarks at Meeting with Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights
Moscow, Kremlin

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Good afternoon, colleagues,

This is our second meeting. I decided to hold this meeting before the New Year so as not to let too much time go by between our meetings. We need to exchange views on events in the country, on the work done since last time we met, and on what we have not managed to do yet.

Whatever the case, I want to start by thanking you for the last discussion we had. It was a substantial and meaningful discussion. I can say quite openly that after that meeting, I ended up with a large number of documents on my desk, passed on by you. As I promised, I examined them all personally and issued relevant instructions. This does not mean that all of the problems they mentioned have been resolved, but at least what I promised you, what we discussed together (the president’s personal involvement in examining these issues) was done. Today, I think we should continue working in the same way.

On the question of what has actually been achieved within the framework of the agreements reached, we discussed the matter of improving public organisations’ legal status. A special working group on enhancing legislation in this area was established and drafted amendments to the law on NGOs. These amendments simplify the registration procedures, reduce the number of documents these organisations have to provide to the authorities, and also reduce the number of checks and the time allowed for registration documents approval. As you know, I summarised these proposals and submitted the draft law to the Duma, and it has now been passed and come into force as a federal law. This does not mean that NGOs now have no problems, but we have at least succeeded in removing a number of the significant difficulties that we discussed and agreed to address.

We also discussed the need to have the Government Commission on Migration Policy resume work. The commission was formed in May and it is functioning now.

Of course, there were other points too on which I issued the necessary instructions. We will review them today, go over the work done and the work still yet to be carried out, and examine the areas requiring particular attention.

The work on enhancing our NGOs’ legal status is important. We will continue our efforts in this area and will further support the non-commercial philanthropic organisations that help in solving various problems, including social problems. These organisations can make a particularly important contribution in our lives during this crisis time. I will not start quoting figures just now, but will merely say that this year the federal budget allocated what for the crisis period is a considerable amount of money for supporting public organisations ­ 1.2 billion rubles. What counts ultimately, however, is not so much the money, important though it is, but the attention we pay to this area.

In my Address [to the Federal Assembly], I proposed introducing the institution of non-profit associations with a social focus. These organisations would receive all-round support from the state ­ financial, property and consultation support ­ including in the form of duty and tax breaks, preferences for state and municipal procurement, and transfer of property for them to use in their activities. A draft law has been prepared and I have already signed it and will send it to the State Duma today for examination.

Certainly, I think it is our common duty to support non-profit organisations’ influence in society and help to attract talented people and philanthropists’ money into this sector, because this is essential for developing the activity in this area that is in our interests too. We therefore need to encourage philanthropists and help create incentives and motivation for the volunteers also working in these organisations.

There are several other matters that I think we will also definitely examine today. They include implementing the National Anti-Corruption Plan. There is still much to be done in this respect. We all know well what the situation is today. I am not in favour of over-dramatising things and I think that the steps we have taken already at least send a serious signal that this is the direction in which our society should develop and the road for improving our political system. It is easy to lament that corruption is impossible to eradicate so long as the bureaucrats remain in place, especially in Russia with its ill-adapted political and governance traditions. It is far more difficult to actually work, make decisions, improve laws and introduce restrictions. I am sure that you will be frank in sharing your views on this subject with me today.

We will discuss other topics too that come under the Council’s mandate. This includes above all the situation with civil society development, the problems it faces today, and also the situation with protecting human rights and the changes you think should be made to our political system and our country’s legal system.

I will not take up any more of your time, because I am sure you have far more interesting things to tell me than my own opening remarks. I therefore propose that we start work. But I want to say from the outset that we should all understand that our discussions are friendly and at the same time open. As last time, I have given the instruction that our meeting today be recorded and the transcript made public for everyone interested in following our discussions and the Council’s work.

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