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Civil Society Unites Behind Kudrin

Published: December 4, 2013 (Issue # 1789)

Former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin recently hosted the All-Russian Civil Forum, with about 1,000 people representing all 83 of Russias regions and hundreds of diverse nongovernmental organizations attending. The forums organizing committee decided not to invite President Vladimir Putin, government officials or politicians in general. They held the forum at the pricey World Trade Center in Moscow and made use of the most modern technologies and the newest methods for moderating large gatherings.

Previous forums enjoyed support from opposition leader Garry Kasparov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, and the 2001 Forum was even held in the Kremlin. President Vladimir Putin spoke at that event and Moscow Helsinki Group director Lyudmila Alekseyeva then, as happened this year, sat in the presidium. However, that old romance between the authorities and civil society soon grew cold, and every forum since has carried a distinct opposition tone.

Kudrin brought together all of the most important organizations of civil society, the most well-known and respected NGOs from the Golos election monitoring association and the remnants of former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovskys Open Russia, to Transparency International and the World Wildlife Fund. The membership of the forms organizing committee included Alekseyeva, philanthropist and doctor Yelizaveta Glinka, economist Yevgeny Gontmakher, Transparency Internationals Yelena Panfilova, publisher and literary critic Irina Prokhorova, Pavel Chikov of the human rights group Agora, and other key figures from Russias independent NGOs.

The forum included five main sessions, with Georgy Satarov moderating the plenary sessions discussion on The Authorities, former Institute of Contemporary Development head Igor Yurgens moderating The Economy, Gontmakher moderating Life in Russia, and Panfilova moderating Society. The goal of that collective effort: to develop an Agenda for Russia. Over the course of the day, the dozens of working groups of forum participants managed to formulate the Russian third sectors view on the countrys existing problems and their proposals for resolving them.

During the final evening session, the four moderators summed up the results of the discussions. The day of collective brainstorming produced numerous novel ideas for solving the countrys problems. Those will be publishing by the Forum Organizing Committee and the Civil Initiatives Committee headed by Kudrin.

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Sunday, Apr. 20

Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.

Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.

Monday, Apr. 21

Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.

Tuesday, Apr. 22

SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.

The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.