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Cablegate: Russia's Institute for Democracy and Cooperation

VZCZCXRO4998
OO RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN
RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #0229/01 0301432
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301432Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6318
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 000229

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM RS
SUBJECT: RUSSIA'S INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY AND COOPERATION

REF: MOSCOW 5266

1. (SBU) Summary. As Russia's new Institute for Democracy
and Cooperation prepares to open its New York and Paris
offices, Institute Chairman Kucherena claimed to us that its
purpose was not "propaganda," but to provide a Russian
perspective on human rights and democracy and to aid in the
creation of common standards for measuring them. He laid out
the organization's structural priorities, defended the
organization's independence from the GOR, and explained the
source of funding (mostly government grants). In a
subsequent press conference, Kucherena introduced well-known
analyst Andranik Migranyan, as head of the New York office,
and pro-Kremlin NGO leader Nataliya Narochnitskaya, as head
of the Paris office. The Institute's priorities not
surprisingly echo Putin's efforts to project resurgent
Russia's increasing "soft power" abroad. End Summary.

Nuts and Bolts
--------------

2. (SBU) In a January 24 meeting with Embassy, founder and
Chairman of the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation
Anatoliy Kucherena stated that in his position as Chairman of
the Public Chamber Commission on Law Enforcement Bodies,
Power Agencies, and Reform of the Judicial System, he had
proposed the creation of a Russian human rights NGO at a
meeting with Putin in early 2007. Fifteen Russian regional
and inter-regional NGOs, as well as American and Western
European human rights organizations, were involved in
consultations about the Institute's format before Putin
announced its creation at the October 2007 EU-Russia Summit
in Mafra (reftel).

3. (U) Kucherena explained that the Institute's Paris and
New York offices would each be staffed by 10 employees, with
an equal number of American or French experts and Russian
analysts in each office. The Institute had obtained office
space in central Paris, and it continues to look for prime
real estate in New York. At a January 28 press conference,
Kucherena announced executive directors of the two field
offices:

-- President of the Historical Prospect Foundation Nataliya
Narochnitskaya will head the Institute's Paris office.
Narochnitskaya was previously the Deputy Chairwoman of the
International Relations Committee in the Duma as a member of
the nationalist Rodina party, and spent eight years at the
Soviet Mission to the UN in New York. She was a critic of
NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, and was known for
her opposition to globalization, supranational organizations,
and loss of national sovereignty.

-- MGIMO professor and former Yeltsin advisor Andranik
Migranyan will head the New York Office. Migranyan, a member
of the Public Chamber and vice-president of the NGO
Soglasiye, has been an outspoken, but moderate, advocate of
the Kremlin's worldview, as well as a leader in
Armenian-Russian circles.

Key Priorities of the Institute
-------------------------------

4. (U) Kucherena, Migranyan, and Narochnitskaya stated that
the primary goal of the Institute was to cooperate with
non-governmental organizations in Russia and abroad for the
development of civil society institutions and democracy. The
Institute plans to "monitor" and establish dialogue with
Western states -- and eventually Russia's own neighborhood --
in the areas of:

-- Democratic practices;

-- Human rights and religious freedoms;

-- Ethnic minorities, including xenophobia.

At the press conference, Narochnitskaya noted that the
Institute would take the socio-economic situation in a
country into account when inspecting the human rights
situation, and singled out Turkey, France, and Latvia as
countries where the situation of ethnic minorities was
problematic.

5. (SBU) Kucherena replayed to us the Kremlin's line that
this was a public initiative, "without state control,"
although it would bring in politicians, as well. Kucherena
described the Institute as a "political Davos." At the press
conference, however, Migranyan admitted that the work of the
Institute would be "coordinated" with the Russian
authorities, who expected joint work between public and

MOSCOW 00000229 002 OF 002


government experts. He compared this to analysts moving in
and out of government in Western countries, giving the
example of an American who transitioned from the Department
of State, to the Carnegie Center, to the NSC, and finally to
the Kissinger Foundation.

"Perspective, not Propaganda"
-----------------------------

6. (SBU) Kucherena told us repeatedly that neither he nor
Putin saw the Institute as an instrument of propaganda.
Kucherena insisted that both Western and Russian press were
completely off base in claiming that the Institute was
anti-Western or even a Russian version of "Freedom House."
The aim of the Institute was to introduce a Russian
perspective on human rights and democracy. America already
had influence on Russia, but Russian influence on America was
sorely lacking, and the Institute could help the world
understand Russia in its cultural context. He asserted that
the Institute would help "raise Russia's profile in the world
and improve Russia's image." However, Kucherena said that
Russia's image abroad would not be improved by criticizing
others, but by demonstrating its achievements.

7. (SBU) When asked about the possibility of preparing human
rights reports on western countries, Kucherena said the
Institute would not issue reports similar to the U.S. Human
Rights Report, but the experts would prepare analytic papers
on "various issues." Narochnitskaya and Migranyan said they
intended to fight against attempts to "monopolize control"
over norms and standards of democracy and human rights,
although both promised to monitor "problems, not states."
Kucherena added that the Institute would help develop common
standards for monitoring democracy and human rights, and to
spark debate in areas of common concern. Narochnitskaya
noted that "this was not retaliation," and that there were
thousands of organizations which study human rights in "every
country other than their own."

Financing
---------

8. (U) Kucherena stated that the budget for the Institute
was still unclear, as administrative issues were still being
considered. He mentioned that the Institute was still
negotiating prices for real estate in New York, along with
salary negotiations for experts, and that the budget "would
be approved later." (NOTE: When pressed by a Spanish
journalist for a dollar figure during the press conference,
Kucherena became defensive.)

9. (SBU) Although the Russian MFA told us shortly after
Putin's announcement in Mafra that the GOR was planning to
invest more than one million euros in the project, Kucherena
was vague about sources of funding. He told us that "as much
private money as possible" would be used to fund the
Institute, and expressed confidence that Russian businessmen
would be active in its financing. However, he admitted that
"as with most Western NGOs," the Institute would start off
with government grants.

Comment
-------

11. (SBU) The goals of the Institute remain ambiguous, but
the intent is obviously to continue Putin's efforts to
project Russian influence globally. This not-quite
nongovernmental organization is a novel step in Russia's
expanding outreach efforts. Mirgranyan and Narochnitskaya
are capable, and we expect them to be energetic, pro-Kremlin
public figures when they take up their new duties.
BURNS

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