How to create a strong civil society?
This was the subject of a round table on ways of promoting civil society in the current Russian reality, which took place at the Institute of City Economics.
The chair of the Regional Journalists’ Club suggested that an enormous potential for the development of civil society resided in the young. One example was the case of the Khimkinski wood. It was young people that had popularised the idea that the wood must be saved from being cut down and they had collected thousands of signatures in support of their petition.
The president of the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights agreed. He said that those who were continuously engaged in the thick of civil activities saw salvation in the young. They had an enthusiasm that older people tended to lack. He thought that instead of a developed civil society in today’s Russia there is only a thin layer of civil activists. Much had to do with the fact that there is no positive agenda. As a rule representatives of civil society were reactive rather than proactive. In addition, the legislative basis for the functioning of the part of civil society made up of NGOs needed reform. The pro-rector of the Advanced School of Economics at the State University said there were two lines of development that needed facilitating; the creation of suitable conditions under which NGOs can operate and demanding more from them. New opportunities should not be colonised by those that are smarter and closer to the authorities.
Another leading economist was persuaded that the development of civil society could also be stimulated by economic means and suggested altering the law so that the tax on personal income and the social taxes would be paid to the employees together with their wages and then these should pay the appropriate amounts back to the state. As of today the employer pays without the involvement of the employees so that citizens are not mindful of the fact that the state is maintained at their expense. This means that they are not keen to exploit this as a basis for the pursuit of public accountability.