Public Chamber reports on state of Russian society
Among other things, the Public Chamber is proposing the creation of a platform to facilitate cooperation between the media and NGOs and the introduction of a special subject at journalism colleges on promoting the work of the NGO sector.
The Public Chamber recently held its final plenary session of 2016 during which it presented its annual report on the current state of Russian society as well as highlighting plans for its future work. According to Alexander Brechalov, the Chamber’s priorities for 2017 will include “work to strengthen the status of SONGOs, principally in helping to provide them with access to the public social services market” and in supporting community projects.
“We’re mainly speaking of the Donors’ Forum, the Public Chamber University and the “I am a citizen” prize. We have an excellent campaign called “Take a holiday in Russia”. We’ll also focus on a project called “An hour with a Minister” because we’re very conscious of the needs of society and regional Public Chambers. One issue which will certainly feature highly is the work of Public Monitoring Commissions (PMCs) which we began a year ago. Elections to PMCs in new regions will be held next year and we’ll seek to ensure that there’s plenty of competition with a field of around 40 candidates for each Commission”, Brechalov added.
“Initiatives led by active citizens must receive every support. We have to help everyone and not make judgements as to who is nearest to or further away from power and the people. There are thousands of us out there working for the common good – let’s all just get on with it”, said Brechalov.
The Public Chamber wants to set up a special platform to facilitate cooperation between the media and NGOs and “provide grant support to make this happen”, said Svetlana Yaremchuk, First Deputy Chair of the Public Chamber’s Commission for the Development of an Information Society, Media and Communications. “We have already held five public hearings in a number of Russian regions during which we heard of many interesting projects which for some reason did not reach the media. However, once journalists got to know about these programmes, e.g. through the “Community” Forum, they found them to be very newsworthy – the trouble was they simply didn’t know about them! The media is not prepared to talk about the problems faced by NGOs while NGOs themselves find it extremely difficult to speak openly about their issues and achievements”, said Yaremchuk.
According to Novosti, the report on the current state of Russian society also includes a proposal to introduce a “specialist subject at journalism colleges on promoting NGO work and the volunteer movement in the media and social networks through appropriate training programmes and manuals”.
The Public Chamber is also proposing to “examine the feasibility of introducing legal provisions that obligate grant recipients to report on the implementation of their projects in the media” and to “consider the possibility of using 3-5% of their total grant sum to fund the costs of promoting their projects in the regional media”.
TASS reports that the Public Chamber is in favour of allocating resources for technical support to the work of PMCs. “A number of problems still remain in the Commissions’ work. Among other things, they don’t have their own budget, which means that their members aren’t even able to claim their travel expenses”, according to the Public Chamber’s report.
The Public Chamber’s report on the current state of Russian society will be published shortly on the Chamber’s website: www.oprf.ru