Themes and date for Civil Forum

The organising committee has fixed a date
for the Civil Forum to take place and discussed the main items



announced on 16 August by Aleksei Kudrin, co-chair of the committee, the
purpose of the forum is to help civil society and NGOs discuss the most acute
questions relating to both co-operation between civil society and the state and
internal relations within the third sector. The organisers propose that the
forum should be a one-day event (fixed tentatively for 23 November) and plan to
invite 1000 representatives of civil society from all over Russia.



promoting the forum consist of leading NGO representatives from: the
Moscow-Helsinki Group, the Institute of Contemporary Development (ICD), the
civil rights organisation Citizens’ Control, the Committee for Civic
Initiatives, the Russian branch of Transparency International, the New Literary
Observer, the Defence of Transparency Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund
(Russia) the Russian Information Agency News Centre for Social Ratings, and the
Altai Business Peoples’ Association. Elena Topoleva, the director of the Agency
for Social Information, is also involved. Altogether around 30 representatives
of Russian communal organisations are on the organising committee.



forum’s agenda is currently under discussion. Ms Topoleva thinks it extremely
important that it should help facilitate dialogue within the third sector and
that it is very important in view of recent events connected with the foreign
agents law for NGO personnel to feel that they are not alone but rather in the
company of like-minded people. ‘Just now I would put the issue of consolidation
within civil society itself at the top of the agenda,’ she stressed. Evgeny
Gontmacher (fellow of the ICD) associated himself with her comments, it being
his view that one of the most important outcomes of the forum should be the
creation of a major community of Russians active in the third sector. He
emphasised the importance of the idea of the forum not having been handed down
from above but rather being an initiative of the third sector alone. ‘The idea
of the forum was not agreed with anyone. We are acting ourselves,
independently.’ he explained.



of the key questions raised at the first meeting of the organising committee
was whether government representatives should be invited. One view was that
only those personally recommended by members of the committee should be
invited. Another was that the forum should help facilitate reciprocal relations
between the community and the government with the accent being placed on
creating mechanisms to facilitate the establishment of a stable system for the
purpose and to encourage positive responses to communications from below. It
was thought that a new contract between the governed and the government should
be drafted at the forum. The NGOs should be the initiators of a dialogue about
a new social contract, not the political parties. It was considered that the
scale of the forum was extremely important and that civil rights defenders and
ecologists should be at its core.



meeting concluded by setting up a working group to deal with selecting
participants. The next committee meeting is to take place on 12 September.



Civic Initiatives Committee had previously published an invitation to
representatives of civil society to participate in the forum.



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