The EU advocates a policy that includes a great deal of human rights promotion and support for Russian NGOs. The question for EU policy-makers is no longer whether but how to manage NGO involvement in a way that induces necessary changes in Russia’s human rights behaviour. This paper by Elena Klitsunova, a programme director at the Center for International and Regional Policy (CIRP) in Saint-Petersburg, argues that current EU policies often fall short of their potential to develop the non-state transfer of European ideas, norms, and practices to Russia or to assist the development of the Russian NGO community. If the EU is to become a serious actor in the field of human rights promotion, it will have to find new and creative ways to communicate with Russians about human rights matters. This paper offers policy recommendations to adapt EU strategies to the current context of the EU-Russia relationship and to redesign EU assistance programmes.