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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08MOSCOW486 2008-02-22 12:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Tags:   PHUM PGOV PREL ELAB RS 
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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #0486/01 0531205
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221205Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6754
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
					C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 000486 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/20/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ELAB RS
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S MEETING WITH HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

REF: A. MOSCOW 460

B. MOSCOW 461

Classified By: Ambassador William J. Burns for reasons 1.4(d).



1. (C) Summary: In a February 21 meeting with Human Rights
Watch Moscow Director Allison Gill, the Ambassador confirmed
that the Embassy would continue to press the GOR on the
denial of a visa to HRW Director Kenneth Roth. Gill noted
that the denial had increased publicity for the rollout of
HRW's report on NGOs in Russia. Gill summarized the report,
which states that the 2006 NGO law has stifled small NGOs and
human rights organizations, and previewed HRW's
Russia-related projects for the coming year. End Summary.

Visa Denial for HRW Director Kenneth Roth


--------------------------





2. (C) On February 21, the Ambassador met with Human Rights
Watch (HRW) Moscow Director Allison Gill and Deputy Director
Sasha Petrov. HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth was unable
to attend because the Russian Consulate in New York denied
him a visa. Gill said that HRW was surprised by the denial,
which was only the second time in the organization's history
that this had happened (the first was in Nigeria). Petrov
speculated that the denial was "pre-election paranoia" and
said that his contact in the Foreign Ministry told him that
the denial was "half technical," and implied that the
decision to deny the visa was not made by the MFA. (Note:
Later on February 21, the MFA released a statement on Roth's
denial, noting that Roth's visa application contained false
information. Roth's application, prepared by a expediter,
listed Roth as a manager of the McKinsey Company working with
the Ministry of Agriculture, and that he failed to note the
true purpose of his visit. The MFA also stated that Roth
could freely reapply without prejudice if he provided
accurate information in his application. End note.)



3. (C) The Ambassador told Gill that he had raised the denial
directly with DFM Kislyak and that the Embassy had followed
up at other levels at the MFA (reftels), and that he would
continue to press the GOR on this issue. The Ambassador
expressed concern that the GOR would use the Roth denial as a
precedent for hampering the work of other international NGOs
and asked about Roth's plans to reapply. Gill said that HRW
had no plans for Roth to visit or to reapply, but would
examine their schedule to see if there were any appropriate
upcoming events.

HRW Report on NGOs


--------------------------





4. (C) Gill presented the Ambassador with copies of the HRW
report "Russia: Cut Red Tape that Stifles NGOs" (available on
the HRW website www.hrw.org), and summarized their findings
that Russian NGOs, especially small NGOs, are smothered by
Russian bureaucracy, and that the 2006 NGO law has
intimidated many NGOs who engage in human rights and civil
society. Gill said that an economic analysis of the NGO law
prepared by MGU professor Aleksandr Auzan detailed the cost
of the NGO law and estimated that the government would need
to spend "billions more rubles" in order to administer the
existing law fairly and adequately. Gill and Petrov said
that the Russian government's denial of Roth's visa had
greatly increased the publicity for HRW's report on Russian
NGOs, which they issued at a February 20 press conference in
Moscow. (Roth participated by telephone from New York.)

Suggestions for Addressing Human Rights Issues in Russia


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (C) Gill told the Ambassador that HRW had an uneven record
with the Russian government, and that she questioned the
sincerity of Medvedev's February 15 speech in Krasnoyarsk,
where he expounded on the importance of individual freedom
and the equal application of the law. She noted that they
had heard similar themes from Putin eight years ago, and that
in recent years the working environment for NGOs has
progressively worsened. Gill said that HRW did work well
with Ella Pamfilova, the Chair of the President's Council on
Human Rights, who supported their position on NGOs. "Although
Pamfilova is well respected, she has trouble finding traction
with the government," Gill said. (Note: On February 21, the
Council's Executive Secretary William Smirnov downplayed news
reports that the Council would be dissolved following the
March 2 presidential elections. Smirnov said there was only
a "30 percent chance" of the council actually being
dissolved. End Note.)

HRW Plans for 2008


--------------------------




6. (C) Gill said that HRW is planning four main projects for
the coming year. First, because Russia is a large market for
migrant labor from Central Asia, HRW will prepare a report on
labor and migrants, focusing on the construction industry
with some attention on the Olympics construction in Sochi.
Next, HRW will prepare an analysis of recent European Court
of Human Rights decisions against Russia, and examine the
government's record on implementing the decisions. Later in
the year, HRW will issue a special report on extra-judicial
executions in Ingushetiya, followed by a longer report on
Chechnya.



7. (C) Gill said that the USG could be most helpful in
supporting their work by acting in concert with Europe. "The
Putin administration has very effectively used a
divide-and-conquer strategy to separate the U.S. and
Europeans."
BURNS