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Cablegate: Foreign Ngo Re-Registration Nearing Its End

VZCZCXRO5630
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHMO #2784/01 3381630
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041630Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5653
INFO RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 012784

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM EAID KDEM RS
SUBJECT: FOREIGN NGO RE-REGISTRATION NEARING ITS END

REF: A. MOSCOW 12637
B. MOSCOW 12471

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Federal Registration Service (FRS)
has re-registered 176 foreign NGOs as of December 1, with
another 15 still under consideration, and it is nearing the
end of this process. Of the 29 NGOs tracked by USAID, 21
have been re-registered, and eight are awaiting decisions
from FRS. For the NGOs still attempting to get
re-registered, most have had applications returned for
corrections in minor, technical details. In the few cases we
know where an NGO has been refused, one has overcome the
refusal and two others are resubmitting their applications.
END SUMMARY.

LATEST COUNT
------------

2. (U) FRS is nearing completion of adjudication of
applications filed by foreign NGOs for re-registration.
According to the latest official statistics, as of December
1, FRS has registered 176 NGOs and has applications from
another 15 (six of them American) under review. FRS does not
post statistics of those NGOs that have submitted
applications but had them returned for revision. The Office
for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that 11
of 15 foreign organizations working in the North Caucasus
have been registered.

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3. (SBU) In its own survey of 29 NGOs, USAID found that
eight are still unregistered and in various stages of
resubmitting applications following comments from FRS. They
are ABA/CEELI, MiraMed, Doctors of the World, Johns Hopkins
University, International Rescue Committee, World Vision,
Foundation for Russian-American Economic Cooperation, and
Eurasia Foundation. Reasons for the delays in
re-registration range from minor revisions requested by FRS,
such as placement of apostilles or wording changes
(International Rescue Committee, World Vision, ABA/CEELI,
Johns Hopkins) to larger questions about tax-exempt status in
the U.S. (Foundation for Russian-American Economic
Cooperation). Eurasia Foundation was told that there were no
problems with its application, but that it had been sent to a
review "commission" pending a final decision. (NOTE: Eurasia
Foundation is the first NGO to have reported the existence of
this "commission," and it is not clear what the "commission"
is. END NOTE) NGOs that have been asked for minor revisions
told us they do not believe delays in re-registering them
were politically motivated, but rather, that FRS has
inconsistent in reviewing documents.

4. (SBU) FRS has not publicly released information on the
NGOs refused. Three NGOs have told us they have been
refused. One of them, Handicapped International,
successfully re-applied shortly after its initial refusal.
Russia Justice Initiative will submit a new application after
being refused and further discussion with FRS (ref A).
Doctors of the World was refused on November 27, despite
on-going discussions with FRS, and is awaiting official
notification of the reasons for its refusal.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
----------------------

5. (SBU) Other NGOs that have been registered are now in
the process of submitting required annual activity reports
and quarterly financial statements. They said that thus far,
FRS has taken a casual approach to these reports (ref B). An
interagency commission recently circulated the final draft of
reporting guidelines seeking additional comments from NGOs.
USAID's review of this final draft indicated some small
improvements on previous drafts, such as a revision that NGOs
had to report only on "major" activities in the annual
reports, but generally the guidelines seem to be a
restatement of the original forms promulgated in April.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Re-registration of foreign NGOs has not been
without its problems, but generally the results have borne
out the view that most NGOs would ultimately be registered.
At this point, it appears that the difficulties some NGOs
have experienced are more the result of the bureaucracy
instituting a new process than any ill intentions toward them
or their activities. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty
International, and some others that potentially could have
run afoul of the GOR were registered, and several of those
awaiting decisions have been told informally that there
should be no further problem in getting registered. FRS
continues to say that those refused may re-apply immediately,

MOSCOW 00012784 002 OF 002


and the two organizations we know that have been refused
intend to do so. We will continue to follow their progress,
and perhaps more importantly, the FRS's reporting guidelines
and their application.
BURNS

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