Having sought to destroy real non-governmental organizations (NGOs) because Vladimir Putin was angered by their democratic qualities and exposure of his regime’s faults, the Kremlin has decided to promote a variant that was notorious in Soviet times as GONGOs – government-organized NGOs.
Such groups, created, funded and staffed by the Soviet state, were used by Moscow to get representation in various international meetings of NGOs from elsewhere. Few Soviet citizens were fooled by these simulacra, but many in the West allowed themselves to be in the name of expanding bilateral cooperation.
In the last few years, the Putin regime has created various GONGOs to compete with genuine organizations of nations like the Circassians and Crimean Tatars in order to sow confusion; but an announcement this weekend suggests that the Kremlin is going to go into GONGO formation in a major way, quite likely even more broadly than did the Soviet regime.
At a meeting of the All-Russian youth educational forum “Territory of Meaning in Klyazma,” Vyacheslav Volodin, first deputy head of the Presidential Administration, said that the section of that administration responsible for domestic affairs was creating a working group to prepare proposals for supporting “socially organized NGOS.”
According to Volodin, the working group will begin meeting in September in order to prepare ideas for a Social Chamber session planned for November 3-4. He indicated that this was a step to the realization of Vladimir Putin’s March decision to promote government-NGO “cooperation in the name of development.”
Putin said that it was necessary to come up with ideas to create a “flexible” system of grant support for socially conscious NGOs” and to create “a mechanism of transferring to the third sector part of the functions of the state in the social sphere.”
At the present time, Volodin said, there are “almost 227,500 socially-conscious NGOs,” in which 669,000 people are involved.” Most of them are small and inactive, but the ones the Kremlin wants to boost–especially internationally–can expect to receive significant funding as well as clear directions about how to behave.