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Civil Society Unites Behind Kudrin

Published: December 11, 2013 (Issue # 1790)

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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.

Alexei Kudrin is attempting to expand his image by serving as a leader for those who advocate civil society, including the opposition.

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 published by the Forum Organizing Committee and the Civil Initiatives Committee headed by Kudrin.

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Thursday, July 10

Enjoy the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio Torino as they perform a free concert this evening in the Great Courtyard of the Winter Palace at 9 p.m.

Friday, July 11

Yevgeni Grishkovetz, a famous Russian author and director, will present his new book, Pain, at 7 p.m. in the Bukvoed book store at 46 Nevsky Prospekt.

Explore the mysterious Petrograd side of the city during todays English-language guided tour. The trip starts at 7:45 p.m. at Gorkovskaya metro station. The price is 250 rubles ($7).

Saturday, July 12

Russian culture will be the focus of todays Neva Rus Festival. Starting at noon, St. Petersburgs 300th Anniversary Park will be a venue for a round dance master class, hand-to-hand fighting, folk music concerts and a traditional handicraft fair.

Visit todays ShubaShorti urban flea market, where everyone can buy, change or just have for free various vintage knick-knackery, clothes and books. The event starts at noon at the Uppsala Circus at 44 Sverdlovskaya Naberezhnaya.

The 3rd International Opera for All Festival opens this evening with a free performance on Cathedral Square in the Peter and Paul fortress at 7 p.m.

The Tsunami Picnic Car Festival will allow visitors to see hundreds of exclusive cars outdoors and to watch races featuring professional drivers. The event will take place in the town of Sestroretsk at noon.

Coffee lovers will be able to try hundreds of different kinds of coffee and enjoy baristas shows as well as live music during Coffee Day in the Cultural Space Salon at 11 Bolshoi Kazachy pereulok.

Sunday, July 13

Starcon, a festival dedicated to science fiction and innovation, plans to lure visitors by exposing them to the best video games and comics as well as holding lectures on new and exciting technologies. The event will take place at Lenexpo, 103 Bolshoi prospect on Vasilievsky Island, at noon. The entrance fee is 850 rubles ($23).

Monday, July 14

More than 30 young artists will present their work including sculptures, painted skateboards and graffiti, during Boards & Paint, which will run through Aug. 3 at Loft Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt.

Tuesday, July 15

Be amazed by 50 life-sized moving dinosaur models at the Dinosaurs Show, the worlds largest such exhibition, which will be at Lenexpo on Vasilievsky Island until Sept. 21.

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