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NGOs to gather in Russia ahead of G8 summit

MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - Non-governmental organizations will hold a two-day forum in Moscow on July 3-4 in the run-up to the Group of Eight summit, which Russia will host later in July, the organizing committee for the summit said Friday.

The forum will discuss problems of concern to the international community ahead of the summit, the committee said, adding that NGOs could draft proposals to be considered when setting out agendas for further G8 summits.

Russia is presiding over the club of rich nations this year, and St. Petersburg will host a summit on July 15-17. The leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, France, Germany and Italy will be joining Russian President Vladimir Putin for Russia's debut G8 summit.

Over 500 people, representing prominent rights organizations, including the International Helsinki Group, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Charities Aid Foundation, and others, are expected to take part in the NGO forum.

The program includes roundtable discussions on global energy security, environmental problems, efforts to curb HIV/AIDS, and human rights, the organizing committee said.

The NGOs' meeting in Russia follows the passing of a new law in the country on public organizations, setting more stringent and complicated financial reporting requirements. The law, which came into effect in April, has been criticized in the West and liberal groups in Russia as being too restrictive.

Lawmakers and political scientists in Russia have claimed that NGOs helped "color revolutions" in neighboring ex-Soviet countries, particularly Ukraine and Georgia, which swept away the ruling elite in favor of West-leaning authorities.

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