Discussion on SONGOs’ involvement in social services

NGOs are one of the main themes at Vyacheslav Volodin’s meeting with human rights activists


Moscow 25 December 2015


At the meeting, in particular, problems were discussed that are associated with the release of NGOs into the market of social services, ways to attract people and businesses to support the third sector and plans to attract citizens to finance a monument to victims of political repressions in Moscow.


The First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Vyacheslav Volodin met with the President of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC). The non-commercial sector was one of the main themes at Volodin’s meeting with human rights activists, according to Elena Topoleva, member of the HRC. Volodin highlighted that in recent years there have been major changes in the sphere of state support of socially oriented NGOs and stated that in 2016 NGOs will be able to participate more actively in the implementation of services in the social sphere.


Earlier, in his address to the Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin called to provide NGOs access to budget financing. The President instructed the development of a programme of gradual access for NGOs, which are carrying out activities in the social sector, to budget funds allocated for the provision of social services to the population, “based on the feasibility of bringing them up to 10% of the funds allocated for the implementation of the respective programmes of the Russian Federation and municipalities.”


Volodin asked the HRC to take part in the work on the involvement of NGOs in the implementation of services in the social sphere. Non-commercial organisations will continue to receive grant support, highlighted the First Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, but the output of the third sector in the social services market will provide NGOs more extensive support. Volodin considers that socially oriented NGOs should become a real part of the economy, the basis of which is civic engagement. The activities of NGOs provide an opportunity for thousands of people who will be able to realise their potential, he stated.


Topoleva believes that a complex set of actions are needed, in order to provide NGOs effective access to the service sector and it is not possible to do this solely with new laws. She highlighted that even if, from the side of the authorities, they take all efforts to ensure that NGOs do receive 10% of the budget, which is allocated as compensation for the provision of social services to the population, these NGOs will need to be trained, since many organisations are not ready to enter into this market.


Topoleva believes that it is also necessary to change the mentality of bodies of social protection, health and education in the field in to ensure that they attract more NGOs to work in the social sphere. “It is also necessary to do something with property that NGOs do not have access to. At the moment they can only provide home-based services and not inpatient services,” she stressed.


During the President’s meeting with the HRC, which took place in October 2015, Putin urged citizens and businesses to assist non-commercial organisations. Volodin considers that it is necessary to organise a campaign to popularise what was stated by the head of state. He proposed to create special services, which could help people to effectively implement their desire to help. “Today many people already help NGOs but often they do it without knowing, succumbing to emotional outburst. It needs to be done more consciously. They need help with this,” Topoleva said.


At the meeting the construction of a monument in Moscow to the victims of political repression was also discussed. A decree on the construction of the “Wall of sorrow” at the corner of the Garden Ring and Academician Sakharov Avenue was signed by the President in October 2015. The project will be created at the expense of sponsors, private donations and budget funds. The collection of private donations for the construction of the monument continues today.


The Presidential Administration and the HRC consider that it is necessary to organise a campaign to explain to the public the meaning of this monument and to attract private donations for its construction. Topoleva believes that “this is not just fundraising so there is enough money for the construction. It is very important symbolically. For every man to feel their involvement in this important act of memory.”


Volodin also talked with human rights activists who are planning a change to the law on “foreign agents” in order to refine the understanding of “political activities”. Earlier, a working group on NGOs for the Presidential Administration adopted an approach, which was proposed by the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation. According to Volodin, the working group’s decision has already been approved by the President, who instructed the Ministry of Justice to develop and submit the corresponding draft law. Topoleva urged that the document that the Ministry of Justice is working on be carefully reviewed and actively engaged in public discussion.


Human rights activists discussed with Volodin the situation with respect to human rights in the Transbaikal Krai (in December 2015 the Presidential Council was there for an offsite meeting), problems associated with state control of institutions in the social sphere, measures to combat domestic violence, civil counteraction to terrorism and plans to monitor upcoming elections.


Author: Grigory Ivanushkin


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