Why we are against

In contrast to the two previous Congresses, the Penza event features the following:

  1. the leading role in the organization of the event belongs to the state authorities (the Council of the Federation Commission on the Development of Civil Society Institutions) and the representatives of the "official" non-governmental structure (Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, National Council of Youth and Children Associations, etc.);
  2. the organization committee doesn't include organizers of the previous congresses or any representatives of the NGOs of the region's key countries;
  3. several of the leading Russian NGOs that work on the issues of civil participation in building and consolidation democracy were only invited to take part in the organization process and in the congress at the very last minute when all the main issues (e.g., the programme of the congress, the principles of its organization, the principles of choosing candidates, the list of speakers and moderators) were already solved; they were confronted with the already set "rules" that couldn't be changed;
  4. as a result of the "quota" system for inviting participants announced by the organization committee, the participants list is dominated by the NGOs that don't deal with the issues of democratic development, civil participation and rule of law, while the leading NGOs and networks that work with these issues form a pitiable minority;
  5. the participants list contains no NGOs from Penza, though the attitude of the authorities towards independent civil institution in this region can be described as hostile;
  6. the agenda and programme of the event don't represent the priorities of the European Council ( the rule of law, democracy, human rights, the development of the civil society) and don't include the most topical issues that indicate their development in Eastern European countries with all their challenges and successes;
  7. the important following principle isn't abided: the meetings and discussions have to be moderated by those who have really contributed to the development of democracy, rule of law and human rights in Russia and the whole region of Eastern Europe, and who are respected by other members of civil society, including the representatives of the NGOs that organized the two previous Congresses;
  8. the projects of the meeting's final documents haven't been prepared and distributed beforehand.

The list of problematic issues can be extended but basing of the points that have already been mentioned above, one can draw a conclusion: the event in Penza can't be called the III Regional NGO Congress, as it doesn't really facilitate the real dialogue between NGO leaders from Eastern Europe, and doesn't contribute to the promotion on the main values of the European Council - democracy, human rights and the rule of law.