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NEWSLETTER JUNE 2014


TOP NEWS
Sign the Online Petition Supporting the Memorial Centre of History of Political Repressions "Perm 36" >>
CSF's Presentation at the Baltic Sea NGO Forum and the Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Turku >>
Financial Support by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Open Estonia Foundation Secured >>

STEERING COMMITTEE

Appeal to the Newly Elected Members of the European Parliament >>
Statement "Amendments to the Russian Law on "Foreign Agents" Signify a New Level of Threat to Civil Society in Russia" >>


PROJECTS
Visa Experts' Group Meeting in Warsaw >>

MEMBERS' VIEWS
"Memorial" Left the Moscow International Open Book Festival >>
Public Discussion on Ukraine in Berlin  >>
Dr Fraser Cameron: What Now for EU-Russia Relations? >>

TOP NEWS

Sign the Online Petition Supporting the Memorial Centre of History of Political Repressions "Perm 36"

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum calls on its members and non-indifferent organisations and individuals to sign the online petition supporting the Memorial Centre of History of Political Represions "Perm 36" - the only GULAG museum in Russia experiencing a threat of closure now.

In 2012, "Civic Engagement Institute" (Perm) - along with its partners (Memorial Centre of History of Political Repressions "Perm 36", MitOst Associaton, and German-Russian Exchange) - organised the First Forum for Young Professionals "Pilorama Lab" as an event accompanying the International Civil Forum "Pilorama". A new format was inter alia supported by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

In 2013, when both "Pilorama Lab" and "Pilorama" were cancelled (officially due to lack of co-financing from the Ministry of Culture, Youth Policy, and Mass Communication of the Perm Region), the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum - along with its long-term local and international partners - organised a solidarity event, which included two discussion rounds on citizen journalism and actual EU-Russia relations as well as a visit to the "Perm 36" museum.

Full text of the petition can be downloaded
here

To sign the petition please go there.

TOP NEWS

CSF's Presentation at the Baltic Sea NGO Forum and the Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region in Turku

On June 2-4, 2014, Forum's work was presented at the 12th Baltic Sea NGO Forum as well as at the 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Both events took place in the Finnish City of Turku within the Baltic Sea Days.

The major target of participation was development of Forum's activities in the region. And the first try was successful: Their interest for the Forum was shown not only by NGOs from Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Sweden but also by representatives of the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the European Commission, the Baltic Sea NGO Network, and further entities.

Around 40 participants attended the Open Session "EU-Russia Relations: Civil Society Challenge in the Baltic Sea Region" moderated on behalf of the Forum by its PR Co-Ordinator Sergei Tereshenkov. At the session, such questions as unique co-operation experiences in the region, challenges for the EU-Russia relations in the times of the Ukrainian crisis as well as need for further support of the civil society in Russia were discussed.

More information on the events may be found at
www.bsngoforum.net
and www.bsr2014.eu.

TOP NEWS

Financial Support by the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Open Estonia Foundation Secured

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum received official confirmation from the Robert Bosch Stiftung (Germany) and the Open Estonia Foundation (Estonia) about financial support.

The Robert Bosch Stiftung granted a donation of EUR 43,000, which will be used for needs of the Donors' Conference next year as well as a part of the Visa Project. EUR 40,000 from the Open Estonia Foundation will be spent for the Forum's General Assembly, which will take place in Tallinn on Novermber 27-29, 2014.

It is worth mentioning that the major funding for the CSF activities comes from the
European Commission, whereas the Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland) gives additional EUR 15,000 for the Visa Project.

The list of current donors is available
here.

STEERING COMMITTEE

Appeal to the Newly Elected Members of the European Parliament

The Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum congratulates the Members of the European Parliament on their election. The Steering Committee calls on the new Parliament to use its powers to uphold human rights, rule of law, and democracy both inside the European Union and in its relations with Russia as well as to move Europe and the world towards a just and sustainable economic, social, and environmental model.
 
The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and its member organisations work to maintain and develop Europe as a continent in which both the European Union and Russia peacefully and productively cooperate and adhere to jointly agreed standards, in particular those developed by the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The overcoming of the current crisis in Eastern Ukraine and putting an end to violence there is possible only if the Russian government and security forces return to implementation of the international and European principles and mechanisms of law and common security, acknowledge inviolability of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and stop providing military and material support to armed insurgents. We call on the EP Members to stand on for this in all their relations to Russian deputies and officials.
 
We call on the EP members to monitor that the Ukrainian authorities would strictly adhere to international human rights standards in their efforts to protect territorial integrity of the country and to engage in meaningful reforms to ensure effective democratic transition. Development of an inclusive and rule-of-law based state, free from the plague of corruption, where the rights of members of all minorities are fully respected and the government is accountable to the public, would give a chance to Ukrainian people to overcome the legacy of the past and become a true part of a larger Europe. We urge the European Union member states and institutions to provide all necessary assistance to the people of Ukraine in this challenging and historical moment.


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STEERING COMMITTEE

Statement "Amendments to the Russian Law on "Foreign Agents" Signify a New Level of Threat to Civil Society in Russia"

On June 4, 2014, President Vladimir Putin signed a law amending the infamous Russian legislation on “foreign agents”. According to the new rules, the Ministry of Justice has received power to include NGOs on the list of “foreign agents” on its own decision. No court verdict would be necessary for this. This development creates a completely new situation in the implementation of the law and puts Russian civic organisations in much more difficult situation in the context of the continued crackdown by the authorities. Russian civic activists and their European partners express their concern in strongest terms about a new level of existential threat to civil society in Russia signified by this new amendment.

Obviously, the new amendments represent the government’s reaction to Russian NGOs’ refusal to abide by the repressive law and their strong resistance in courts. The government failed to force NGOs to voluntarily accept the status of “foreign agents”, despite of administrative and judicial pressure.

Immediately after the amendments to the law entered into force, the Ministry of Justice used its new powers. On June 5th it issued a decision to include five NGOs into the
list of “foreign agents”. Four of them had already closed down or are in the process of self-closure to avoid criminal prosecution of their leaders for refusal to register as “foreign agents”: National Association for the Protection of Voters’ Rights “Golos”, its Moscow Member Centre “Golos”, Kostroma Centre for Civic Initiatives (all of them are members of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum), and Saratov Centre for Social Policy and Gender Studies. One more, the “Union of the Women of the Don”, is still fighting in courts against a decision of prosecutors who ordered them to register as a “foreign agent”.

Read more

PROJECTS

Visa Experts' Group Meeting in Warsaw

On June 18, 2014, the CSF Visa Experts' group had a kick-off meeting organised by the Stefan Batory Founation in Warsaw.

After a successful first phase of the project in 2013, the project continued also in 2014-2015.

Visa expert group is comprised of experts of different professional background (law, politics, civil society, economics). For the first time, a business representative - Andreas Metz from the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations (Berlin) - joined the group. The experts were also happy to welcome Leonid Litra from the Institute of World Policy (Kyiv), as long as one of the group's objectives should be a comparative analysis of the visa dialogues in the context of broader EU-Russia relations and experiences of Eastern Partnership countries. Further members of the group are:

Konstantin Baranov, International Youth Human Rights Movement, Voronezh
Jakub Benedyczak / Krzysztof Mrożek, Stefan Batory Foundation, Warsaw
Bruno Melverede, Ghent University, Ghent 
Liubov Pasyakina, Russian Academy of Science, Institute of Europe, Moscow
Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, Secretariat at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Berlin
Vadim Voinikov, EU Centre, Baltic Federal University, Kaliningrad

In the course of the workshop, the experts discussed inter alia the arguments for visa liberalisation in current political situation, strategy for the advocacy work, visa-free impact on the EU and Russian economies as well as migration and security measures in the context of "Common Steps" (document describing the measures towards visa-free regime between the EU and Russia).

The first follow-up report draft shall have been prepared by the end of August 2014. Meanwhile, the visa group will be involved in the advocacy work and activities promoting recommendations of the Visa Report 2013.

More information on the activities of the group may be found here.

MEMBERS' VIEWS

"Memorial" Left the Moscow International Open Book Festival

 

In its protest against censorship The International, Historical, Educational, Human Rights and Charitable Society "Memorial" has refused to participate in the Moscow International Open Book Festival (MMOKF).
 

Below is the statement of the curators of "Memorial" stand on MMOKF - Natalia Petrova and Alexandra Polivanova:
 

A few days ago for the first time we encountered censorship at the festival. The leadership of the Central Artist House (CHA) asked us to exclude from our programme the reading of a documentary play of Natalia Vorozhbit, called "Maidan's diaries". This requirement was seen more like a friendly request. Thus, we decided to postpone the reading of the play until the fall to be organized within "Memorial". But on the 9th of June censorship applied to our friends and stand partners - "Colta". The Deputy Minister of Culture V. Aristarkhov demanded ban on showing of the following plays: "Pillow's soul" and "Herbivores".


 

Read more (in Russian)



 

Public Discussion on Ukraine in Berlin

 

On June 24, 2014, the public discussion "Ukraine After the Presidential and in the Run-Up to the Parliamentary Elections: How Does the Eastern Part of the Country develop?" took place at the Quadriga Forum in Berlin. It was organised by the European Platform for Democratic Elections.

The discussion participants tried to give answers to the following questions: How is the situation in the Eastern part of Ukraine nowadays? Under what conditions international and Ukrainian journalists are able to work? What impact do propoganda and disinformation have on population and social cohesion? What could be possible counter-strategies and perspectives in the run-up to the autumn parliamentary elections in Ukraine? 

 

 

Read more

 

Dr Fraser Cameron: What Now for EU-Russia Relations?

 

Director of the EU-Russia Centre Dr. Fraser Cameron wrote an article - “What now for EU-Russia relations?” for the World Commerce Review. The author analyzed mainly current crisis in Ukraine and its impact on EU-Russia relations. 

 

'The EU has frozen its relations with Russia following Putin’s annexation of Crimea and on-going machinations in Ukraine. Both the EU and US have imposed sanctions on Russia while G7 leaders reiterated their opposition to Russian policies at their meeting in early June in Brussels. This article considers the impact of the crisis on European security. It then examines the situation in Ukraine after the presidential elections and what the EU should do to support Ukraine. It then assesses the prospects for EU-Russia relations.'

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