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20 NGOs Closed Down in Ingushetia for “Links to Foreign Intelligence Services”

15 October 2012

Source: (info)

The Federal Security Service has shut down 20 non-governmental organizations working in Ingushetia, accusing them of having links to the intelligence services of foreign states and collecting intelligence data. 

According to the Interfax news agency this move was announced by the Head of the Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Services in Ingushetia Yury Seryshev.

"It would be naive to believe that foreign organizations would invest large sums of money in non-governmental organizations in order to develop democracy. When they announce that they are working for higher aims, they are practically admitting that they are conducting intelligence work for foreign governments,” said Seryshev. He also said that foreigners are primarily interested in gathering different levels of information about the region, including social, political and economic, as well as information about the activities of law enforcement agencies.

Seryshev noted that there now remain three NGOs in Ingushetia, and that they are all considered “foreign agents” under the new law on NGOs in Russia. One of these is the human rights organization Mashr. The Head of Mashr Magomed Mytsolgov had earlier come out with a statement saying that his organization does not receive money from abroad. “We spend our funds on providing free legal assistance, and these funds do not come from abroad. People would find it far more interesting if the authorities and law enforcement agencies explained what they spend their money on. After all they are not under suspicion or subject to criticism if they keep their money abroad,” said Mytsolgov.

Employees of Ingushetian organizations have not been able to find out exactly which NGOs have been shut down. “Yesterday afternoon, my Ingushetian friends and colleagues from various non-governmental organizations started calling each other trying to work out if their organizations had been closed down. It turned out that none of them had been told to close, and we don't understand what it is all about,” said the Chairman of Memorial Alexander Cherkasov speaking live on the radio station Ekho Moskvy. “So far, it has been more like one of the more colourful scenes from a Saltykov-Shchedrin novel where a character has decided to outdo himself and announced all kinds of decrees before they have even been made.”

At the end of September, the Procurator General asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate foreign-funded NGOs based in Chechnya and Ingushetia for extremism. So far, foreign grant donors have financed projects in the region that aim to address corruption, encourage the growth of small businesses and safeguard human rights.

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